Gullah Geechee Charleston Seafood Gumbo

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Gullah Geechee Charleston Seafood Gumbo

Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 1.5 Hour | Serves: 6 - 8 People

What You’ll Need

  • 2 pieces of fatback bacon or 3 slices thick cut bacon

  • 1 smoked ham hock

  • 2 quart shot water

  • 2 cans of stewed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon of fresh parsley

  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced

  • 1 large yellow onion

  • 1 Andouille sausage

  • 1 1/2 dozen clams

  • 1/2 pound of lump crab meat

  • 1 pound of medium to large shrimp, peeled and devained, tails left on

  • 3 cups of okra, sliced

  • 1/2 cup of red bell pepper, diced

  • 1/2 cup of green bell pepper, diced

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce

  • 2 cups of white rice

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Step One: Prep the Pot

Using a large cast-iron Dutch oven, place on stovetop on medium heat. First, fry the bacon. Once cooked, remove bacon, leaving the fat in the Dutch oven. Next, add the smoked ham hock and hot water. Boil for 30 minutes.

 
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Step Two: Dump it In

Next, stir in stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, garlic, onion, clams, bacon, bell peppers, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow gumbo to thicken.

 

Step Three: Season it Up

Remove ham hocks. Add crabmeat, shrimp, andouille sausage, okra, sugar, salt, pepper. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Make sure that the soup does not become too thick. If so, add additional hot water.

Serve hot over white rice.

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This gumbo is the perfect combination of spices and seafood to enjoy, during these late summer or early fall nights, along the coast.

This was my FIRST gumbo, and I’m quite proud of myself. It’s flavorful, not too spicy, and of course - it’s seafood. Try this recipe and let me know your thoughts below!

 
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R and R Travel Guide to Charleston: Southern Charm in the Low Country

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Guide to Charleston

Southern Charm in the Low Country

I recently had to do some traveling for work, and was sent off to the lovely Charleston, South Carolina. My cousin got married in Charleston when I was in college. I hadn’t been back since; so, I’m so glad that I got this opportunity. I was there for three weeks (God, I missed Pepper), so, I tried to make the very best of it. Since my employer provided meals, I only really dined out on the weekends. I have no idea how I was able to complete everything on this list but I did. Charleston is not only gorgeous, but it is a food haven. If you’re watching your weight or dieting, this is not the place for you. As a daughter of a Georgia born and Florida raised man, I’m pretty accustomed to coastal seafood and soul food recipes. What makes Charleston so great and different from all of the rest, is truly its charm. It may sound cliché, but you’re immersed in it.

What fascinates me about the city is their dedication to preserving as much architecture and aesthetic of the pre-Civil War era as possible. When I walked the streets of downtown, I was in awe of the different architectural styles of the homes, dependent upon the year it was built. Walking down King Street, south of Broad Street, you’re surrounded by single family “carriage houses,” where the double porches were designed to face the side of the house to allow more airflow from the winds blowing from the harbor. Even when I would enter some restaurants, the interior designer would make it a point to incorporate traditional style with coastal elements, paying homage to Charleston’s harbor and the history of shipping merchants.

Here is a full list of where I stayed, ate and found things to do during my three week work trip.

Where to Stay

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French Quarter

I loved staying at the Elliott House Inn. Built in 1861 as a private residence, this charming bed and breakfast has 26 hotel rooms, fully renovated. The gorgeous coral B&B is located at 78 Queen Street, next door to the treasured 82 Queen Street, which offers room service. The inn sits at the intersection of Queen Street and King Street, near dozens of antique shops. Full disclosure: the antique stores in Charleston are significantly expensive.

Where to Eat

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Downtown Charleston

The Palmetto Cafe was by far the best meal I had in all of Charleston. Located in the Belmond Hotel at Charleston Place, the cafe offers a delicious brunch on the weekends. The brunch buffet is $31 each, with traditional menu items. I opted for the Seafood Club, which consisted of lobster, shrimp, applewood bacon, smoked salmon and tomato. The bread was perfectly toasted and buttered, probably with one of their house made butters. I paired this amazing sandwich with a mimosa and found my happy place. The lover of home design was also obsessed with architectural design, with plantation shutters all around and a gorgeous mirror wall. The menu is pricey but the food and experience were worth every penny. If you’re going to have lunch anywhere, have it here.

 
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Historic French Quarter

Poogan’s Porch is a true Charleston style restaurant, offering everyone’s favorite brunch option, shrimp ‘n grits. The restaurant is located in a Queen Anne style single family home, initially built in 1891. The home was converted to a restaurant in 1976. According to their website, the restaurant was named after the neighborhood dog, Poogan, who previously belonged to the last residential owners, who chose to leave him behind. Although he roamed up and down Queen Street, this porch was his favorite place to lay his head. The owner of the new restaurant named the establishment after him. I love their story! In terms of the shrimp n grits, I gave it a B+, as I tasted a few other Charleston style shrimp ‘n grits, and Poogan’s seemed a little runny that morning, and wasn’t as flavorful as expected.

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Historic French Quarter

82 Queen, located right next door to The Elliott House Inn, is your go-to Lowcountry bistro. I had initially planned on dining at another restaurant, but the weather had other plans, with a torrential hurricane like downpour. So, I opted to stay close and dine next door. So glad that I did! I ordered the Crispy Roasted Duck over toasted pecan rice pilaf in a raspberry orange glaze. It paired very well with their Muddled Creek cocktail item, which consisted of bourbon, orange slices, orange liquer and a splash of ginger ale.

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Downtown

Prohibition is one of those places, that if you ever come back to a city, you’d make it a point to visit there each time. Quite honestly, I need a Prohibition in Baltimore, D.C. or Orlando, because it was the ultimate food, drink and cool jazz combination. I went to the restaurant on a late afternoon, enjoying tapas until the jazz band came out later that evening. Reasonably priced, you can enjoy several shareables with friends, with live jazz in the background.

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Folly Beach

Gillie’s Seafood and Soul Food is your mom and pop shop, that no one tells you about unless you’re a local and true foodie. My brother found this place and couldn’t stop bragging about his locating skills. LOL. It was delicious! I got the catfish and shrimp over grits, with their special sauce that has a little kick to it — but not too spicey. If you go on a Sunday, just know it does get a little crowded with the after church crowd. The menu prices are very reasonable and the food is truly flavorful.

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The Battery

Pearlz Oyster Bar is near the Battery district. Known for their raw oysters and cocktails, this place is typically crowded during their daily 4-7pm happy hour. The Charleston location is very small, considering it is located on the first floor of a former Charleston carriage house. Thus, seating is tight and you will likely have a wait. I tried the fried oyster slider, which was amazing.

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Park Circle

Park Circle Creamery is an adorable ice cream parlor in a small suburb of Charleston. Park Circle has a little downtown area with eateries, a wine bar and a yoga studio. After you’re done having a yummy flatbread pizza at EVO Pizzeria, walk across the street to the creamery and order one of their homemade items. I’m slightly obsessed with their banana pudding, peach pie (cobbler) and Mexican vanilla flavors.

 

What To Do

Shopping

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Historic French Quarter

The Historic Charleston City Market first opened in 1804. The marketplace offers numerous vendors with a variety of crafts and goods. Most tourists check out the market in search of souvenirs, usually after sweetgrass baskets, where a basket the size of your palm will set you back $100.00. Since I had visited the Gibbs Museum and fell in love with Jonathan Greene’s Corene, I opted to purchase a framed giclee print of this painting, which was also signed by the local Charleston artist. #SCORE.

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King Street Antiquing

Historic French Quarter

If you’re like me and love antiques, and your options of gorgeous chinoiserie ginger jars, then walking up King Street is the place you’ll want to be. There were several antique shops on King. Full disclosure: antique stores in Charleston are immensely overpriced comparatively to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Shop at your own risk.

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Historic French Quarter

Book lovers should be sure to stop by Buxton Books, an independently owned bookstore on King Street. This adorable spot features tons of local authors and books on the low country.

 

Architectural Walking Tour

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South of Broad Homes

South of Broad

When you’re done shopping on King Street, continue on King, walking south of Broad Street, towards the Charleston harbor. While walking on King, south of Broad, you’ll find your variety of Charleston homes in all architectural designs beginning from Georgian homes built in the 1700s, to single family “carriage houses,” with piazzas or porches on the side of the homes. Enjoy the many pastel homes covered in ivy, with amazing front door envy. Best part: this costs nothing except the camera in your hand! For more information on the many historical architectural styles in Charleston, click here.

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Rainbow Row

The Battery

When I got to Rainbow Row, it seemed like every one had a professional photographer in hand and was having a photoshoot in front of the pastel homes. It’s a very popular location to check out homes. Street parking is available.

 

Museums and Other Must See’s

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Anson Borough Homes

During my stay, the city hosted their annual First Day Festival, where they encourage families to come together to receive school supplies, find school support resources, and enjoy live entertainment. On the day of the festival, held every year in August, admission to the South Carolina Aquarium is free. I’m not one for crowded places with hundreds of children (my inner introverted self was screaming), but it was free so I definitely was not going to pass up the offer. The aquarium is nice place, if you’re traveling with small children, as they have dozens of animals and exhibits. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the aquarium is not that large and will cost adults $30 each.

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Historic French Quarter

You cannot leave Charleston without visiting one of their many art museums. Charleston is an artsy city with almost as many art galleries as they have churches. With that being said, check out Gibbs Museum of Art, a short distance from the Elliott House Inn. It’s only $12 to get in; and if you’re frugal and remember to buy your ticket online before you get there (unlike myself), you can get up to $2 off your ticket purchase price. I recently was able to catch their exhibit, Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem. Gibbs Museum received various artworks from African American artists, on loan from the Studio Museum in Harlem, with art as far back as 1930 to present.

Charleston has several house museums, where descendants of former slave owners have maintained and retained their family properties. The Edmonston - Alston home, which overlooks the Charleston Harbor, was originally built in 1825 for shipping merchant Charles Edmondston and his large family. The home has both features of the “carriage house,” with three piazzas appropriately located on the side of the home to allow airflow; but, was built to reflect English regency style architectural design with influences from Greece and Rome. Edmondston eventually filed bankruptcy and sold the property to Charles Alston. The property was maintained by their two house slaves, George and Warley. When the Alston family returned to their home after the Civil War, the house was occupied by members of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Charles Alston had to request (and receive) a pardon from President Andrew Johnson to obtain the return of his property. Since then, the home is one of many family properties of former slaveowners in Charleston, where the homes are passed down via family wills, to the oldest family heir (the homes are not left to widows or widowers as the Alston-Middleton-Smith families only pass down the properties to descendants to keep the properties in the family names).

There were two amazing things about this property: the slaveowners kept a log of slaves and have actual diaries of the slaves’ names, years they were born and years they were baptized. However, the books are badly worn due to their age. Secondly, I couldn’t believe the craftsmanship by slaves that built the property’s library, fireplace mantles and door frames. Since Edmonston was a shipping merchant, it is believed that he had the slaves carve roping like features into the wood to replicate boat rope.

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Northwest Charleston

Magnolia Plantation was established in 1676 by Thomas and Ann Drayton, two English colonizers who resettled in the lowcountry swampland along the Ashley River. The Draytons cultivated the land for rice and purchased slaves from Charleston’s “Old Slave Mart,” the oldest slave port in America, to grow the plantation. The Drayton family continued to pass the plantation down to male descendants over the years, including Thomas’ great great grandson, John Drayton, who owned and maintained the property during the Civil War. The Draytons had 41 slaves at one time, cultivating the rice fields. According to the tour guides on the property, only 45% of Black males were expected to reach the age of 20 years old, due to the strenuous and life threatening conditions working as a slave on a rice field. After the South lost the Civil War, Drayton offered the now freed slaves paid work to assist him in the planting and maintenance of his garden. Many slaves stayed and agreed to work, and Magnolia Gardens opened for public viewing in 1870. The property, now reduced to approximately 500 acres due to previous sales, offers $20 general admissions, and additional $8 tours for their gardens, antebellum home, slave quarters, rice fields, swamp garden and nature tram.

I only participated in viewing the main gardens (general admission), the mansion and slave quarters, costing approximately $36. I arrived early (8:30 am), did the house tour and slave quarters tour immediately (finished by 11:30 a.m.), and then toured all of the gardens until 2:00 p.m. I highly recommend wearing sneakers, hat, sunglasses, and BUG SPRAY. I didn’t realize that the actual property was in the swamp. I swatted mosquito, that had clung to me so well, that when I finally realized I was being bitten and killed him, I was covered in blood all over my hand. (GROSS!) If you remember anything, remember bug spray.

 
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Saint Phillip’s Cemetery

Historic French Quarter

The historic cemetery sits across the street from Saint Phillip’s Episcopal Church. The cemetery has graves dating back pre-Civil War, including the seventh president, John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina native.

 

Parks and Beaches

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Joe Riley Waterfront Park

Historic French Quarter

This gorgeous park has views of the Charleston harbor and a nearby dog park area for your fur babies.

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White Point Garden

South of Broad - Charleston Harbor

White Point Garden is South of Broad along the harbor. There is plenty of street parking at this park and is well shaded during the hot and humid summer.

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Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island was my favorite beach because it was the least crowded. I parked near the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, where there was free street parking. Sullivan’s Island is surrounded by beach houses and feels very private. There were dogs allowed on the beach; however, pay close attention to beach rules which address months and times dogs are permitted.

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Isle de Palms

Isle de Palms is a gorgeous beach and quite popular, as it was more crowded than Sullivan’s Island. There are beach resorts available for lodging, as well as local restaurants.

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Folly Beach

Folly Beach was the most crowded out of all three beaches that I visited. Folly Beach also features a large fisherman’s pier, and has signs on the types of fish often caught along Charleston’s beaches. I hung out on the pier one evening and was able to catch glimpses of a dolphin, but forgot to bring my zoom lens for some awesome shots (*sigh*).

 

I hope you enjoyed this ultimate travel guide to Charleston. I found myself dreaming of living there, but then came hurricane Dorian, which is hitting Florida as of the date of this post. I left Charleston with Dorian’s not-so-friendly reminder that the area is called low country for a reason. Hoping that the hurricane doesn’t put the entire city under water, as the place truly is beautiful.

On that note, prayers to all those affected by this massive storm. May you all be safe!

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Pepper! Chicken Meatloaf Cake Pawty

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Pepper Mint!

Chicken Meatloaf Cake Pawty

It’s Pepper Mint’s 3rd birthday. Since we were in Florida, I wanted to make Pepper and her cousins, Ginger and Bleau, a special treat they could share. All three girls, especially Ms. Pepper, LOVE chicken. So, I concocted this recipe, along with some of her favorite veggies (e.g., sweet potato) and decided on a meatloaf. I discovered that bananas are good for your dog because of the benefits of Potassium — however, like anything, it’s a rare special and infrequent treat since bananas are high in sugar. Another reason why I opted on a meatloaf: my dog hates dog biscuits and other dog sweet treats. So, an actual peanut butter dog cake would have been a waste for her.

If you decide to make this for your pup, let me know if your fur baby loves it. Pepper and her cousins sure did!

Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 45 Minutes

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 Pack of Ground Chicken

  • 1 Sweet Potato (Cooked)

  • 1 Banana

  • 1/4 - 1/3 Cup of Carrots (Cooked)

  • 2 Eggs

  • 1/4 Cup of Panko Bread Crumbs

  • 1 Box of Mashed Potatoes

  • 1/4 Cup of Shredded Cheese

  • 4” Round Cake Baking Pans

  • Non-stick spray for greasing

First, mash banana, sweet potato and carrots in a large mixing bowl.

 
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Next, add ground chicken, eggs, bread crumbs and cheese. Mix thoroughly. Then, spray baking pans with non-stick spray. Place mixture in baking pans just like you would a cake mix.

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Place meatloaf in baking pans, in the refrigerator for one hour, minimum.

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Place in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. While meatloaf is cooking in oven, cook mashed potatoes per boxed instructions.

Once cooked, remove from oven and allow meatloaf to cool.

 

Lastly, remove meatloaf from cake pans. Spread mashed potatoes over meatloaf like frosting. Garnish with shredded cheese and you’re done!

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Speaking of Summer: Author Kalisha Buckhanon Making Waves in Literature

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Speaking of Sumer

Author Kalisha Buckhanon Making Waves in Literature

Author: Kalisha Buckhanon | Genre: Fiction | Published: July 2019

I was very excited to get this book in my hands, when it was released a few weeks ago. How could you NOT want to read this book, based on the cover alone?!? Isn’t it gorgeous? The hardcover jacket was designed by artist Jaya Miceli, who also did Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger.

Anyways, Speaking of Summer is about Autumn Spencer, a young woman with a twin sister named Summer. They’re from the midwest, but venture to the city that never sleeps, in search of the same ‘ol same ‘ol that most young people pursue when they move to New York City. While Summer is characterized as the struggling artist whose paintings haunt the history of the girls’ past, Autumn is the writer, with several business clients. It’s Autumn’s work, that funds their apartment in Harlem, keeping their lifestyle afloat. Then one freezing winter night, Summer goes missing. She was last seen on the roof of their apartment building, her footprints still in the snow. And the that was last time anyone saw her.

What I liked…

I greatly enjoyed how the author really highlighted both external and internal issues that a family member may face when their relative goes missing. The author properly articulates the trauma and difficulties that Autumn personally experiences as a result of Summer being a missing woman of color. For example, the author makes it a point to remind the reader that Black girls and women who go missing are often overlooked by law enforcement and the media. In 2018, over 424,000 children were reported missing to local law enforcement officials. Researches contend that there are approximately 75,000 missing Black women and girls nationwide. Autumn repeatedly goes to see Detective Montgomery, who is assigned to her case, but he seemingly lacks motivation in the search for Summer. Autumn notices that her only two girlfriends haven’t brought up Summer or her disappearance; so, Autumn purposely avoids the topic of her sister feeling as though no one is concerned about her untimely departure except her. Buckhanon also illustrates how trauma can alter and affect your mental and emotional health; and, how left untreated, can procure harmful results.

Then there’s Chase, Summer’s boyfriend. In a moment of complete vulnerability, due to the death of their mother, Autumn sleeps with her sister’s boyfriend. They begin their affair, right before Summer goes missing. Now, Autumn can’t help but wonder if it was her own selfishness that pushed her sister away.

What I loved about this book is that nothing is what it seems. After about 75% of the book, the author does a complete plot twist and you won’t know what to think. In the end, Autumn begins a dedicated attempt to find herself; and in the process, answers the main question of whether anyone found Summer.

What I didn’t like…

I couldn’t think of anything negative about this particular book. This was my first Buckhanon novel and I was genuinely impressed by her creative writing style and the relatable character of Autumn.

This is one of the few books that I can honestly say I will probably read more than once. Have you read this amazing novel yet? What did you think of Autumn’s relationship with Summer and Chase? Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book!

You may also like…

 
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Bringing the Chesapeake Indoors: Nautical Home Decor in 8 Easy Steps

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Bringing the Chesapeake Indoors

Nautical Home Decor in 8 Easy Steps

I’ve spent my entire life living on the East Coast, from Jersey down to Florida. But, Maryland is probably the closest that I’ve lived to water, in terms of mileage. Since moving to Baltimore, I noticed that Marylanders take tons of pride, living on the Chesapeake. When I went to Saint Michaels and Tilghman Island, so many homes were painted different shades of blue to replicate the Atlantic Ocean, with bright yellow, coral and red doors. Even the rooms at the Wylder Hotel and common areas, maintained the blue and white nautical theme. As time goes on and I think about the next place I liked to relocate, I know that I want to be close to water (near someone’s lake or beach), and I want to incorporate beach and nautical elements into my next home.

But how?!?

Let’s talk about which design elements can give any home a nautical vibe!

 

Step One: Blue or White Exterior

Numerous homes in Saint Michaels were painted different shades of blue, often with white trim.

Sherwin Williams offers a selection of preselected blues, whites and tans in their Northern Shores and Seaports collection. My favorite is Storm Cloud, which speaks for itself, offering a beautiful grey undertone. Another one of my favorites, Comfort Gray, is more of a sea green and both are complimented with Alabaster.

 

Step Two: Choose a Bright Colored Front Door

Another thing I loved about the homes in Saint Michaels is that so many of them painted their entry doors a bright and bold color. I suppose this made me excited given I painted my front door this past Spring in a gorgeous Benjamin Moore Dutch Tulip. For those that painted their home a neutral cool blue, generally chose a warm toned door with reds, corals or yellows.

 

But, for those that opted a cool color instead, mostly chose teal frond doors.

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Try Benjamin Moore’s Aura Grand Entrance , in a high gloss finish, to replicate these gorgeous entries.

BM Dutch Tulip | BM Coral Gables | BM Hawthorne Yellow | BM St. Lucia Teal

 

Step Three: White, Gray or Blue Interior Walls

Another mental note while checking out homes and interior studios in the local area, designers chose classic white walls, calming grays or deep navy paints.

 
 

Step Four: Woven Natural Fiber Rug

At least one of your rooms should have a woven rug, made out of natural fibers, pulling beige and tan tones of beach sand, with the roping texture of boat dock lines.

 

Step Five: White Bedding

Think classic, crisp minimalism, with simple white bedding to compliment your cool blue and natural tones.

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Step Six: A Blue Sofa

With a natural fabric woven rug, you’ll want a blue sofa as your main focal point in the living room. Dress the space up with a gorgeous painting of the Atlantic right above.

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Step Seven: Accessorize with the Ocean

Every decor store had blue and white ginger jars, rattan stools, and coral accessories. Dress up your side tables, coffee tables and mantles with the beach elements.

 

Step Eight: Maritime Lighting

Lastly, it’s easy to forget to pay attention to the lighting hardware style. I noticed that in addition to the “fisherman” wall sconces, a popular decor option was a brass gooseneck or barn style wall sconce.

 
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R and R Guide to Maryland's Chesapeake Bay: Tilghman Island and St. Michael's

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R and R Travel Guide: The Chesapeake Bay

At Tilghman Island and St. Michael’s Island

My girlfriend’s and I recently took a girls’ trip to the Eastern Shore. I suppose this qualifies as a staycation for me, since I’m the Marylander. This was my first time on the Eastern Shore, since the furthest I’ve gone on the Chesapeake was Annapolis. Best decision ever! Honestly, it’s only 2 hours from Baltimore (approximately 3 hours from Washington, D.C.). I’ve been itching to take another trip to Martha’s Vineyard, but just couldn’t do it this Summer because of work constraints. So, a quick three days vacationing on St. Michael’s Island and Tilghman Island were just what I needed for a quick recharge before some serious work travel.

The Eastern Shore proved to be the perfect beach location when places like the Hamptons, Martha’s vineyard, or Cape Cod are just too busy or too expensive. I know that I’ll get a lot of questions about how I mapped out my itinerary for the weekend, so I thought I’d do a quick travel guide for you all.

 

Where to Stay

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Stay at the Wylder Hotel on Tilghman Island

We specifically chose to stay at the Wylder Hotel on Tilghman Island because of its location, a little further away from the hustle of St. Michael’s but still easy access to the Chesapeake Bay. The fully renovated hotel has a saltwater pool, is home to Bar Mumbo and Tickler’s Crab Shack, and available daily sailing on the Lady Patty Yacht.

Wylder Hotel has beach bungalows that were recently remodeled. They have porch seating, are a quick walk to the saltwater pool and Tickler’s Crab Shack. The main house has second floor rooms with views of the Chesapeake Bay.

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Day One Morning

Brunch at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club on Kent Island

On the way to our hotel, we first stopped at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club on Kent Island. The beach club has a small restaurant called The Market, which makes decadent sandwiches and pies. I ordered the Italian, which was amazing. The sandwhich was too big to finish in one sitting. We sat on their patio, where they played great music and also had a cocktail bar. I’d drive back to Kent Island just to have one of their sandwiches again.

 

Day One Afternoon

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Relax at the Saltwater Pool at the Wylder Hotel

After touring the hotel in awe of the gorgeous nautical decor and beautiful water views, the ladies and I hung out at the hotel’s salt water pool. The place wasn’t too crowded and we got to soak up the sun all afternoon. There are also some cute lawn activities that you and your family can enjoy.

 

Day One: Late Afternoon

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Have a local ale at Tickler’s Crab Shack

After relaxing for a bit, we stopped at Tickler’s Crab Shack and had a couple of drinks. There was a large wedding party having their dinner rehearsal on the premises; so, we opted to only stay for a bit and have dinner in town instead.

 

Day One Evening

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Dinner at Awful Arthur’s

Our first meal in Saint Michael’s was at Awful Arthur’s seafood restaurant, on the main road. IT WAS DELICIOUS. I couldn’t wait to dive into my fried oyster po’boy, that I started devouring it before I snapped this picture (oops!). The oysters were seasoned to perfection, and their crab cheese dip will melt in your mouth.

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One of the things that you’ll quickly notice about Talbot Street in downtown Saint Michael’s is that almost all of the shops and restaurants are historical homes that were remodeled or commercialization. Many of the restaurants are victorian farmhouses, like Awful Arthur’s, and offer outdoor seating. I also noticed that many of the places were dog friendly and provided patrons with dog bows for their furry pups.

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Ice Cream at Justine’s Ice Cream Parlor in St. Michael’s

After dinner, we stopped at the local ice cream shop that’s been in business since the late 80s.

 

Day Two Morning

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Pick up Snacks at Tilghman Island Country Store

We made a quck pitstop at the locally famous country store on Tilghman Island. The store is simply a convenience store, but also provides groceries and locals. Thus, it was the go to for cold water and snacks.

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Breakfast at The Galley on St. Michael’s Island

We decided on breakfast at The Galley, a local breakfast café on Talbot Street. It was very crowded, so the food took longer than expected; and, I didn’t think there was anything special about the options on the menu itself. If you like a simple breakfast, without any fancy tweaks to traditional menu items, then this place is for you.

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Day Two Afternoon

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Shopping in Saint Michael’s

Stuffed, we walked up and down Talbot Street to visit the local shops. There were antique shops, gift shops, art galleries, and home decor interior studios. While you can find reasonably priced souvenirs and t-shirts, the antiques, art and home decor options were on the expensive side, especially nautical art and decor.

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Wine Tasting at Saint Michael’s Winery

Saint Michael’s Winery is at the very beginning of Talbot Street, as soon as you drive into downtown Saint Michael’s. It’s a small winery that opens at 11:00 a.m. each day, and offers $1.00 wine tasting samples. You can taste wine a la carte or taste all of their dry wines for $5.00, or all of their sweet wines for $7.00. If you want to try all of their wines, it’s $10.00 total. Steal, right?

My favorite wines were the Maryland Chardonnay, Gollywobbler White and Gollywobbler Pink. I purchased a bottle of the Gollywobbler White, which was only $15.00!

In the summertime, the winery offers homemade slushies made from their Gollywobbler White and Gollywobbler Red wines. So delicious in 90º weather, I must say.

The winery gets a little crowded, but they were well staffed and we were able to start wine tasting as soon as we got there, not needing a reservation.

 

Day Two Evening

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Stars Restaurant at Perry Cabin on Saint Michael’s Island

First, let me just say that Stars Restaurant at Perry Cabin has $$$$ on Yelp, but it was worth every single penny. Stars is probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life. Every single plate we ordered was seasoned and cooked to perfection.

We ordered the Maryland Crab Cakes, and the lump crab meat was sweet and buttery, and were very large, almost difficult to finish.

I personally ordered the rockfish, since I noticed that many of the local restaurants had rockfish on their menu. The fish was flaky, moist but not undercooked. The skin was crispy and well seasoned. Under the rockfish, there was crab meat, golden raisins, capers, pine nuts and roasted cauliflower, topped with vegetable jus. It was divine. Now, I’m tempted to replicate the recipe some how, but haven’t the slightest idea what he seasoned the fish with.

For dessert, we shared a rich chocolate brownie cooked in pork fat. Yes, you read that correctly. Pork fat, not butter, oil, or margarine. The brownie had an outer crust, that tasted something like a pie crumble, with a graham cracker bottom; the center was a moist brownie with cake texture, with small pieces of bacon. OMG. Talk about needing to master my baking skills.

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Finally, Perry Cabin is worth visiting for both the architectural and Chesapeake views. It sits on the bay, a much larger property than Wylder Hotel, with large outdoor seating. Quite honestly, it’s a wedding planner’s dream for a wedding venue.

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Day Three Morning

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Brunch at Limoncello’s Restaurant

After spending the morning at the saltwater pool, we checked out of our hotel and headed back to downtown Saint Michael’s for brunch. Limoncello’s is Saint Michael’s famous Italian restaurant.

 

This trip was the perfect girlfriends weekend getaway. I think as long as I’m living in Maryland, I’ll make a mini vacation on the Chesapeake Bay an annual ritual. Maryland is such a big state, although deceivingly small when people only know Baltimore and it’s neighbor, D.C.

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Maryland Old Bay Crab Cakes with Chipotle Aioli and Tomato Salsa

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Maryland Old Bay Crab Cakes

With Chipotle Aioli and Tomato Salsa

I’m excited to share this recipe because I usually do NOT like crab cakes but OM….G….these were SO good. I also opted NOT to be traditional and cook these in the oven. Instead, these babies were cooked in the waffle maker. That’s right. Nice and crispy with a pretty little presentation. :) Your family is going to love these.

This recipe makes four since each quarter of the waffle is about the same size as a traditional baked crab cake. I was only able to eat two of these in one sitting.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes (Makes 4)

What You’ll Need

Crab Cakes

  • 1lb. (16 oz.) of Lump crab meat

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2.5 Tablespoon of Mayonnaise

  • 2.5 Teaspoon of Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard

  • 1 Teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce

  • 1 Teaspoon of Old Bay

  • 1/4 Teaspoon of seasoning salt

  • 1/4 Teaspoon of cracked black pepper

  • 1/4 Cup of chopped celery

  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/4 Cup of Panko bread crumbs

  • 4 Teaspoons of Ghee Butter or Olive Oil

  • Arugula for garnishing

Tomato Salsa

  • 1 Cup of plumb tomatoes (yellow and red mix)

  • 1 Red onion

  • 1/2 of a lemon

Chipotle Aioli

  • 4 Tablespoons of mayonnaise

  • 1 Tablespoon of black pepper

  • 1 Tablespoon of salt

  • 2 Tablespoons of garlic powder

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In a large bowl, combine eggs, mayonnaise, dijon mustard, Worcestershire, Old Bay, salt, pepper, celery, and parsley and mix well.

 

After mixing, add the crab meat and panko; fold mixture gently, as to not shred the meat.

 

After crab meat is mixed well, turn on waffle iron. Grease waffle iron with either Ghee butter or olive oil. Once heated, add crab cake mixture to waffle iron and cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

 

While crab cakes are cooking in waffle iron, begin dicing tomatoes and onions. Place in a bowl and squeeze the lemon, coating the tomato and onions. Mix well to ensure. You may add salt and pepper to taste for the tomato salsa; however, I opted not to because the crab cakes and aioli have so much flavor.

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Finally, in preparing the chipotle aioli, mix mayonnaise, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl. Next, place mixture in a small ziplock bag. Make a small cut at the bottom of corner of the bag.

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After you remove the crab cakes from the waffle maker, place crab cakes on bed of arugula. Next, top crab cakes with tomato salsa. Then, squeeze aioli out of the corner of zip lock bag.

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Before I took my mini vacay trip to Tilghman Island and St. Michael’s island, I made my way down to Florida and served these up to my parents. My dad is slightly obsessed now, and after you have a bite, I think you will be too. So easy. So quick. So Tasty. Enjoy!

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Dog Days of Summer: Dog Beach Safety Tips for Your Pup

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Dog Days of Summer

Safety Tips for Taking Your Furry Friend to the Beach

 

I recently took Miss Pepper Mint to Downs Dog Park and Beach and we had such a blast! It was both our first times at the dog beach and this will definitely become a frequent summer outing for us. I don’t take Pepper to the dog park very often, so she seems to suffer from “Napoleon Syndrome” and shows aggression towards larger dogs that walk just a little too close to us. I suppose that’s my fault, thinking trips to the dog park weren’t necessary since we have a pretty nice size backyard. Not to mention the fact that she’s very sociable and friendly with her fur cousins in Florida.

In prepping for our picnic at the dog beach, I made sure that she had a separate beach bag of all of her necessities:

Dog Beach Essentials

  • Leash and collar

  • Food and water

  • Dog bowls

  • Towel

  • Sunscreen

  • Beach umbrella (if no shade)

  • ID on collar

  • Poop bags

  • Chew toys

  • Garbage bags

 
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Dog Beach Etiquette

Downs Dog Park is right along the Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County. There is a large lawn that overlooks the bay, with large trees providing substantial shade. Thus, we found some shade, laid out our picnic blanket, and watched the waves (well I watched the waves) as we snacked on goodies. I made sure that Pepper and I practiced some beach safety and etiquette tips, not to disturb other dog owners and obviously to make sure Pepper didn’t get overheated from being in the sun too long.

Keep Your Dog on a Leash

Per dog beach rules, all dogs must be on a leash so that all dogs can enjoy the beach while in the control of their owners. I brought Pepper’s woven Vineyard Vines for Target leash, and a retractable 10 ft. leash, just in case the beach wasn’t too crowded and she seemingly enjoyed the water.

Pick Up After Your Dog

Don’t be that person that takes their dog to the dog park and beach and doesn’t clean up after themselves. If you don’t clean up after Fido, then you run the risk of local councilmen justifying the closure of dog beaches. Keep it clean for other pups.

Keep Your Dog Away from Other People

Granted Down’s Dog Park and Beach is a place for dog owners and their pups to enjoy outdoor activities, it is still open to the community. It’s important that you maintain control of your dog. Don’t allow Fido to interfere in other patron’s space, while they’re picnicking, beaching, etc. Pepper is a little 10 lb Pomeranian, who definitely suffers from Napoleon syndrome. She doesn’t like strangers, particularly if they get too close to her or I. The good news is, she won’t just run over to a random person and /or their dog. But, it’s still important that she understands basic commands and stays in her place. But I definitely allowed her to sniff fellow noses and greet other pups on the beach, when we had put our food and picnic away.

Don’t Mess with the Wildlife

Fortunately, there wasn’t too much wildlife on the dog beach. However, if you’re at a beach that has wildlife, such as seagulls, seals, etc., don’t allow your dog to chase after them. That’s another reason why local laws require leashing; it’s their habitat. We’re just visiting.

 
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Dog Safety Tips

Beware of Hot Sand

Hot sand can burn your pup’s little paws.  If the sand is hot, you may want to purchase a set of paw boots for Fido.  Pepper has some, which I did pack just in case; but the sand wasn’t hot in the beach area and we also picnicked in the morning, before it got excruciatingly hot.

Provide Shade and Water

I knew that there were shaded areas at the dog park, and beach areas.  Since I wanted to picnic first, we sat under a tree the entire time, to prevent overheating.  When it was time to pack up the picnic and head down to the beach area, there were lots of trees close by, for when Pepper was done playing in the water.  If there is little to know shade at your local dog beach, you should bring an umbrella or beach tent to prevent your dog from getting heat exhaustion.  

I also packed a cold large bottle of fresh water for Pepper.  I kept the bowl of cold water out for her the entire time we picnicked. 

 
 

Use Sunscreen

Both you AND your dog need sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Yes, dogs can also develop skin cancer (I had no idea either).  My local pet store did not have dog sunscreen.  However, according to PetMD (https://www.petmd.com/dog/seasonal/can-dogs-wear-sunscreen), I can use sunscreen for adults or children; BUT, only sunscreens that do NOT have zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA).  I use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen (SPF 55).  According to the back label and their website, it is PABA free!  And, there was no indication of zinc oxide.  So, I rubbed sunblock on Pepper’s ears and underbelly.  She has a pretty thick coat, so I didn’t put any on her full body or legs.  I could have put some on her nose, but I didn’t want to chance it since she likes to lick her nose.

If your dog goes swimming, you should reapply the sunscreen after they get out of the water.

Beware of Loose Dogs

At our dog beach, pups must be leashes at all times. However, you will come across an owner or two, that think their dog is the most highly trained and won’t bother other dogs. Whether your dog is well trained or not, dogs are curious creatures. Even though Pepper was leashed at all times, there were moments where I had to keep an eye on her as another owner’s dog would attempt to straggle over and say hi. Not knowing whether someone else’s dog is aggressive or not, be aware of you and your dog’s surroundings, in the even that someone’s pup isn’t leashed.

I hope all of you and your fur babes are having an amazing summer so far! If you have additional tips, leave a comment below!

 
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