Sunday, August 24, 2014

Coral Cottage Featured on House of Turquoise Blog!

How fun!  Erin from one of my favorite blogs, House of Turquoise, has featured our little cottage on her blog!  Yep.  That's right.  The Coral Cottage is on House of Turquoise!


Erin is visiting Tybee this week and enjoying a little Tybee Time with her extended family!  

She features the many variations of turquoise on her blog and it's always fun and inspirational to see the beautiful rooms she finds to share.  Hop on over to 
House of Turquoise and have a look!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Henry, Vicky, and Triple D in Santa Fe!

Anybody else out there a fan of Guy Fieri from the Food Network?  Henry and I have enjoyed watching him cook and entertain since he competed to win the Food Network Star competition.  And he is really fun to watch on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives where he "takes us" to various restaurants around the country.

We've often watched him visit a restaurant and wished we could go there to eat...
last night we did!  

This is what happened...

There is a medical meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico later in the week that Henry is going to attend so we decided to come a couple days early and do some sight-seeing.  (A quick thank you to our house sitters for holding down the fort back home!)

We arrived mid-afternoon, and after settling into our hotel we took a quick walk around the plaza area to get a quick overview.

It's a shopping and restaurant mecca!  We poked around in a few stores...I know I don't look too happy in the photo below but when there are lots of boutiques to explore--believe me, I'm happy.

We made the acquaintance of this little burro statue...

And we came upon this beautiful church at the end of the street...Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.  We walked back to our hotel with lots of ideas about how we might spend our time exploring this week

When we finished this little scouting tour, we were hungry.  Our hotel concierge recommended a restaurant nearby that we could walk to called Casa Chimayo.

When we went inside we noticed a corridor leading to a courtyard...

There were some fun metal sculptures of a mariachi band.

Henry's favorite was the guitar player...He has a nice smile.

The sky looked ominous and we had felt some raindrops a little earlier so we decided to 
be seated inside.

I ordered chicken fajitas and Henry ordered their specialty:  stacked enchiladas made with blue corn tortillas.   They don't roll the enchiladas but they stack them instead!  We had just received our favorite part of any Mexican meal--the guacamole and chips--when we spotted this...

There was a poster of Guy Fieri standing next to the cool red convertible he drives when Triple D tours the country.  Guy autographed it when he featured the restaurant in a 
recent episode! 

Our wish came true!  Don't you love it when you get an unexpected perk? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tips For Feeding A Crowd!

Our yearly family reunion was held at Tybee Island earlier in the summer.  Years ago when we began this traditional vacation there were six of us--now there are eighteen with one more on the way in a few months!  And this year my sister Crystal joined the party!

We wanted to have maximum fun...

...with minimum fuss.

These are some things we did that worked well for us...

  • Divide and conquer.  There are lots of ways to divide up the work but after talking it over together, everyone in our group decided that each family (or team of two families) would be responsible for one meal--from grocery shopping, cooking, through to clean up.  Then they could relax and enjoy the other meals guilt-free when it was someone else's turn.  Crystal (my sister who joined us this year) is a great cook and she was in for helping out too.
  • Plan ahead.  We discussed and settled on menus before leaving for vacation and decided on a schedule so everyone knew what to expect and could bring anything needed from home along with them--or research which restaurant to call!  This also helped us avoid duplicating each other's meal plans.
  • Keep it simple.  Don't be overly ambitious.  Select an easy menu to prepare (unless you love to cook and don't mind spending the day in the kitchen.)  Disposable plates, cups, napkins and eating utensils make clean-up easy and you can be quite creative with all of the choices of colors and designs.  
  • Frills only if it is fun. I love to decorate--for me it is part of the fun. I bought some red tablecloths (easy care inexpensive ones on Amazon) and changed out the toppers plus added a few inexpensive props to make our mealtimes together more festive--totally not important but it is fun for me.  Only do the "extras" that add to the fun for you--skip anything else that drains you of energy.    
  • Assemble-it-your-way meals work well with large groups.  In our group we have vegetarians, meat-and-potatoes-only eaters, seafood lovers, seafood haters, gluten-free dieters, dairy-free dieters, Paleo dieters, etc.  Planning meals is pretty tough. We opted for meals such as a taco bar with a variety of options that allowed each person to customize.  Some other ideas:  Skewer your own shish kebobs offering meat and veggies as you like it or......Pasta night with sauce (meatballs option for meat lovers), salad, and bread---and yes, they make gluten-free pasta.
  • Order take-out.  My husband is fond of saying that I cook the best take-out in town.  When our kids were growing up and had after-school activities that took me away from the house all afternoon we would sometimes (all right often times) resort to picking up all or part of the meal at a local restaurant.  Some of the kids chose to forgo cooking altogether when it was their turn and ordered take-out Chinese food or pizzas and salad--I guess it reminded them of mom's "home cooking"...ha! 
  • Splurge for one fun evening in a restaurant.  If the budget permits, go out to eat and enjoy some of the local cuisine.  I like to factor this kind of a treat into the vacation budget when I am making plans.  In this case we walked to a nearby seafood spot that had land-lover options....not fancy but good.

Here are a few shots of our fun evenings.  Maybe they will be idea starters for you...

Mexican night hosted by Kristen, James and Crystal with chips, guacamole, and ingredients to build your own taco plus rice and beans.

I had sombreros in my party stash from a party I gave a while back.  They came in handy as a way to serve tortilla chips.

Chinese Take-out night hosted by Jonathan and Lisa and Tom and Meghan

I found this cool Chinese dragon on Amazon--it was inexpensive but looked like a million bucks in adding to the ambience!  

This dinner was also a celebration for Jonathan and Tyler who share a birthday....There was a delicious strawberry birthday cake and ice cream for dessert---Yum!

Memorial Day meal....Burgers and boiled shrimp with corn on the cob, 
baked beans, red rice, and coleslaw.

Same red tablecloths with red-checkered toppers and red, white, and blue all-American colors in honor of Memorial Day.  If you substitute white instead of blue napkins you would be ready for Italian night.

We were staying at three different cottages so each night we asked everyone to gather on the patio at Doc Holiday to visit until the final touches were put on the meal...this particular evening my brother Bill and his family joined us.

After we asked the blessing everyone served their plates and chowed down!  The beach always makes you hungry--why is that?

Toward the end of the week our numbers dwindled since some of our group had to leave early.  Jordan, Sarah, and Crystal found a pizza place at Tybee that had a gluten-free pizza option and they ordered delivery of several pizzas and salad according to the requests of  the remaining family.  We swam at the pool and ate informally on the screened porch--it was such fun and so relaxing that I forgot to take pictures!

How do you do things when you have to feed a crowd?  Any versatile menu suggestions?  Any do's or don't's that work for you?  Other pointers?  I'm up for ideas!  Please share. (Facebook friends please share here on the blog so everyone can benefit from your ideas.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Family Reunion Time!

A few years ago when our kids were still under our care but living separate lives in different towns and at different schools and colleges we began planning a yearly vacation to get everyone together in one place so we could re-connect. 

As time passed our kids met sweethearts and got married...

Then precious babies began to join the family...

And that old saying became very true for us...the days are long but the years are short.

Eight grandchildren later and we're still making time at the beginning of each summer for this family's more important now than ever that we continue the tradition of yearly family gatherings to facilitate family bonding.

Time to share thoughts...

Time to play and have fun together...

Time to make discoveries and share the wonders of nature...

To eat together...


...and laugh together.

Time to make some fun memories that will keep everyone close when we 
part to go home...

And I ask you, how else are the children going to get to know crazy Uncle Jordan and Auntie Sarah who live several states away?

Time.  Yes, we need time.

But it is challenging to pull it all off once you grow from one family into five.  How do you plan for a lot of people and do it for a reasonable budget with the work shared?  I've been talking to friends to learn what they do and next time I'd like to share what we did.  

Do you do a family vacation?  If so, please share any tips you have for making it a good time.  I'm still learning.