Cooking My Mother’s Day Dinner

Cooking my Mother’s Day Dinner, sounds odd, I know, especially since my own mother is in New Jersey.  What mother in their right mind would want to cook their own dinner on Mother’s Day.  That would be me, the girl jumping up and down in the back of the room, waving her hand wildly in the air, I am the mother that is overly excited to be cooking her own dinner on Mother’s Day.  Let me elaborate.

I LOVE to cook, the kitchen calms me, unfortunately 95% of the time my cooking is more hip hop after coffee, frequently rushed, sometimes balanced, sometimes not, but we all eat together, the outcome is there, the preparation is sometimes not so calm.    The thought of being able to dance a slow waltz with my dinner, without hearing mommy called a multitude of times, is something I am stupidly excited to do.  After an afternoon on the beach where our 5 year old friend declared, “I wish the ocean were made of bacon”, I am  am excited to be home in my kitchen preparing a feast.

I picked the menu, it is Mother’s Day afterall.  Oysters Rockefeller, Grilled NY Strip Steaks topped with Diver Scallops, Sauteed Spinach and Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese and Walnuts.

DSCF4866Oysters Rockefeller will be given a post of their own given the intensity of their role in my third pregnancy.

I shucked them myself.

I shucked them myself.

And for this Mom, only a real charcoal fire will create the steaks I want wanting, it smells so good, and is right in line with the slower pace I was after.

I find charcoal much less scary than propane.  Propane scares the hell out of me.

I find charcoal much less scary than propane. Propane scares the hell out of me.

To all the Moms, none of us would be the parents we are without the Moms that taught us what we know.   So to all the Mother’s out there, I say this.  I hope you had a fantastic day, and a fabulous dinner, cooked by you, only if it is what you want to do.

Yum.

Yum.

And, the best Mother’s Day gift a girl could ask for…the baby slept through the entire meal.  Not only did I get to thoroughly enjoy the preparation of this feast, I got to enjoy the feast itself.

 

 

 

A Stormy Sea Trout

When we moved to Hilton Head, it came with an Honorary Meteorology Degree from the college of weather.com.  I am a compulsive weather checker, I check the 5 day, the 10 day, the hourly, I look at the radar maps, the works.  The last thing I want is to find myself stuck on the beach with the kids in the middle of a thunderstorm.  I say stuck, because sometimes these storms come out of nowhere in this sub-tropical climate, and with two kids and a baby, getting off the beach in general  makes for good entertainment to those around us.  If we have to do anything quickly it becomes comedy hour.  I try to never have to rush.

One of my first memories of bad weather was Fourth of July in the mid 80’s on a sailboat.  We were on the Chesapeake Bay, and it got nasty fast.  I think my parents were scared, but to my eight year old mind, it was memorable because It was the first and only time I ever got sea sick.  I think I turned green like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Circa 1984

Circa 1984

We do not have a boat yet, much to my husband’s dismay, he would love a small fishing boat, I would love a small boat with a cabin for napping babies, mixing drinks, and using the port-o-pots small boats are famous for.  I am only speculating, but I assume that when we do get a boat, it comes with a neatly framed Doctorate Degree in Meteorology, from the school of google.  Well boat or no boat, storms do roll in, and tonight my husband was fishing when this one came through.

...and the clouds roll in.

…and the clouds roll in.

I used to call him when I would see a storm rolling in and tell him there’s a storm rolling in.  He would laugh and tell me that he was standing on a little piece of sand surrounded by water, of course he knew there was a storm rolling in.  He saw the storm long before I did.   So therefore, I don’t call him anymore, now I just keep checking the front window to see if he is home.    Tonight he got home before the rain started, and didn’t have tales of fighting the big one, but he did have tales of a big mullet in his cast net and a stormy sea trout.

A stormy little sea trout.

A stormy sea trout.

So even when the clouds are rolling in, the fish are still biting.

When Wednesday feels like Friday

It’s Wednesday night on Hilton Head but feels like Friday.  This is normally a terrible realization.  That split second when you think its Friday, and then woops, it’s only Wednesday.  Those weeks usually stink.  It is different today, I truly keep forgetting that my husband has to work tomorrow.  The schools are closed because of the Heritage Golf Tournament, so it really does feel like a Friday.  My daughter is at a friends, the baby is sleeping and my husband just walked down to the pool with the with our son and his friend. So I find myself alone on this Wednesday Friday Night.  To quote Adam Sandler, “Not to shabby”

There are two important things any coastal parent must always have on hand.  One is bug spray.  The blood suckers down here will eat you alive.  The best bug spray in the world is  Cactus Juice. .  I have a hard time finding this locally, I have seen it in one store on the island, down in The Fresh Market Shoppes, in the Hilton Heat Shirt Company.  This is a very typical Souvenir Shop, but one I always take visitors to.  I even found a really cool blue beaded turtle that was lovingly given to a turtle loving friend.   Cactus Juice is on their shelves, along with some really other cute things.  But I have not ventured down to the Hilton Head Shirt Company recently, so I must settle for the an old stand by.

Always in the medicine cabinet.

Always in the medicine cabinet.

I also recently saw a post about making your own bug spray.  I can’t wait to try this recipe from www.wellnessmama.com.  I love her stuff, she makes all kinds of all natural living recipes and lots of other good stuff.

Wellness Mama Essential Oil Bug Spray

Wellness Mama Bug Spray Ingredients:

  • Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
  • Natural Witch Hazel
  • Distilled or boiled Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (optional)

How to Make Homemade Bug Spray:

  1. Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
  2. Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
  4. Add 30-50 drops of essential oils to desired scent. The more oils you use, the stronger the spray will be. My personal favorite mix is: Rosemary, Clove, Cajeput, Lavender, Cinnamon and Eucalyptus… it works great and smells good too!

I mentioned earlier that there were two things a Coastal Parent needed to have on hand at all times, the first was bug spray, the second is beer.  There is something amazing about an icy cold beer on a really hot day.  Something about being so thirsty that all you can think about is an ice cold beer.  Like my bug spray I am generally pretty particular about my ice cold beer of choice.  My preferred cold brew of choice is the very boring Miller Lite bottle.  However, following suit with the bug spray, I am out of Miller Lite bottles, so I am drinking a Longboard Island Lager, “Liquid Aloha” as the can states!

beer and bugs 001

“Liquid Aloha”

I guess you could say it is a back-up kind of night.  I may not have my first choice of things, but I am unexpectedly sitting on my back porch by myself, so my back ups are just fine. After all when a Wednesday feels like a Friday, any beer will do.

 

Beach, City, Suburbs, sometimes it doesn’t matter.

It is early on our little island, and my two girls are awake.  The baby has been up since the 5’s and my 6 year old followed suit.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter where you live, somethings never change, and some things should change.  Early April on Hilton Head is usually a dream, the weather is beautiful, the pools are open, the beaches are not crowded, except for today.  Today it is grey.

A grey morning on Hilton Head Island.

A grey morning on Hilton Head Island.

April, is also the block of time the public schools administer the MAP tests.  Measure of Academic Progress.  My earliest post college career was as a teacher, so I am well educated in measuring academic progress, I am not however a fan of standardized testing starting in Kindergarten.

Last night my 6 year old called me back to her room close to 9 o:clock, which is past her normal bedtime, I was surprised she was still awake.  When I asked her what was bothering her, she, without hesitation told me, “my MAP test is tomorrow, and I don’t know what the symbol means.”  Feeling like a detective I told her I did not know what symbol she was talking about, she immediately sits up and draws an X with her fingers on her covers.  Multiplication, she is laying in her bed stressing about multiplication, she is in kindergarten.  I tried to explain to her that she was very smart, and the only reason why the “X” was showing up on her test was to see how far she could stretch with her knowledge and if she didn’t know the answer to the “X” questions no one would care.  Again, her tears started flowing, and she told me that she cared.  I guess there is something to be said about a child who puts more pressure on themselves then their parents do.

Now, I don’t do stress, I learned this from www.ChicksWithMagnetude.com, and I certainly don’t want my children to do stress.  So I let her get up, watch the end of American Idol and then had my husband carry her back to bed.  She fell asleep immediately, but woke up abnormally early.  This little girl is stressing about a test and it breaks my heart.

There is only one thing to do on testing day, and that is to make a hearty breakfast, I didn’t say healthy, because the cinnamon buns she requested are far from healthy, but add a little fruit and the meal will stick with her for most of the morning.  There are four days of MAP testing, and a few nights ago, she told me she had MAP testing the next morning. So that morning, we all wake up and I make a BIG breakfast.  When I picked her up from school I asked her how MAP was and she started giggling like only a little girl can giggle, she tells me she didn’t have MAP testing, she just wanted a big breakfast.  Little Stinker.

Our hearty, and could be healthier breakfast.

Our hearty, and could be healthier breakfast.

So this morning, I sent her off with braids in her hair, a belly full of food, an extra long hug and warm wishes to not worry about her MAP test.  Beach, City, Suburbs, sometimes it doesn’t matter!

Holy Guacamole!

Living on an island you would expect to find lots and lots of seafood restaurants, and you will.  Some are amazing, some are tourist traps.  I delve deeper into seafood options in a coming blog.  I was completely surprised however by the quality of the Mexican food.  There are some great options if you are looking for a Mexican feast.  Before we moved from the Philadelphia area, I anticipated great low country fare, seafood and Smoked BBQ.  I was absolutely not expecting good pizza, anything that resembled a real cheesesteak or a hoagie.  I once read about a Mexican restaurant somewhere on the island that was back in a corporate park with tables in the parking lot.  According to the article I read, it was the best kept secret for good Mexican food on Hilton Head Island, we looked for it when we first moved here and I haven’t looked for it again, but I will.

It is either an awesome secret, or is gone because we couldn’t find it.   After searching the corporate parks for this hidden gem, and not being able to find it, we decided to head over to Shelter Cove.

Love all the flowers.

Love all the flowers.

Shelter Cove is a waterfront complex with shops, restaurants, and a marina.  I am sucker for a marina, it takes me back to my youth, sadly, the farther I get from my youth the more I like to revisit it with memories.   If you are looking for Shelter Cove, don’t use the Mall at Shelter Cove as a land mark.  As I type, they are tearing it down.

Good Bye Mall:(

Good Bye Mall.  I had never been, I prefer to preserve my big hair and mall memories from Exton and King of Prussia.

Good Bye 1987....out with the Mall.  Malls were what we did back in the day.

They are putting in retail shops, restaurants and another grocery store.

 

You can still expect to see the huge statue of Neptune welcoming you to Shelter Cove.

soccer and blog pics birthday too 359

Fantastic Photo Op, and fireworks on Tuesday nights in the summer.

 

Tucked all the way to the left, past the rocking chairs, ice cream place and boats, you will find a little gem we stumbled upon, San Miguel’s.  They have an outside ‘tiki’ bar, live music, tables on a patio with big ceiling fans overhead, air conditioned traditional Mexican decor inside, and a very diverse menu.  I always order Mexican when I go to a Mexican Restaurant.  It is my belief that when going ethnic, go ethnic.  My husband on the other hand loves the grouper sandwich from San Miquel’s.  I love their tacos, and fajitas and my kids love their chicken fingers, tacos, coloring pages and crayons.  San Miguel’s has very good food, a pleasant experience and a fantastic view.

Another Mexican experience I stumbled upon was when I was in the hospital when I had the baby.   I was an emotional hormonal mess, with a 12 hour old baby and no food. Bad Combination.  I cried when they came for my tray and it wasn’t there to remove.   Finally someone sent up a cheese burger wrapped in plastic that looked like it came from a vending machine, again the tears flowed.  The nurses were my great (gotta love a nurse) and the one nurse told me she would come back.  When she returned she was holding a generic white bag.  What she pulled out of the generic bag was so far from generic.  The nurses had ordered lunch from Fiesta Fresh and got an extra bit of deliciousness.  OH MY WORD….the contents of this bag were indescribable.  It was fresh greens in a crispy tortilla bowl, with spicy (but not too hot) shrimp with a cilantro cream dressing.  We had forever talked about having to check out Fiesta Fresh, but hadn’t made it there yet.  Fiesta Fresh is a small take out restaurant mid-island in the BiLo shopping center.

Although they just blend in from the outside, there is nothing boring about what comes out of their kitchen.

Although they just blend in from the outside, there is nothing boring about what comes out of their kitchen.

Authentic Mexican made fresh, with crisp produce, local shrimp and all the good stuff you always anticipate but don’t always get at other Mexican places.  If you are looking for something to take to the beach, bring a Fiesta Fresh Picnic, you won’t be disappointed.  There is not a lot of seating though, so I suggest Fiesta Fresh for a take-out night.

Finally there is what appears to be a little place on the northern end of the island.   It is a little hole in the wall type restaurant that if you drive by during their off time, you may be slightly hesitant to stop there.

This is the front of the building.

This is the front of the building.

(Something about it reminds me of a similar type spot in Richmond, VA Mama Zu’s)  Drive by during dinner and there is not a parking spot to be found.  The yellow paint, and spanish inspired archways welcome you to Mi Tierra.

Turn the corner and you find the 'real' entrance, complete with arches, and a big ol' gringo.

Turn the corner and you find the ‘real’ entrance, complete with arches, and a big ol’ gringo.

If you don’t care about the view, but are looking for truly authentic Mexican Cuisine and a to die for Margarita, check out Mi Tierr, it is a great spot.

Dolphin Head Playground

We moved to Hilton Head Island on July 1, 2010.  This adventure started in a rental I saw online with a lease signed via fax.  We had  never seen the house.  I left Ocean City, New Jersey, where we had been living with my sister, in a SUV packed to the gills, a 5 year old, a three year old, and CadyGirl our 10 year old black lab.  We took two days driving the 14 hours down 95 S,  and pulled in around noon the day our lease started.  My husband and his buddy were about 4 hours behind us in the rented Uhaul and an old but beloved Honda Accord.  We unpacked all day and most of the next, as his buddy headed back north he wished us good luck and good vibes for unpacking.   Shortly after he left, our kids told us they wanted to do something fun, this to parents everywhere is a good indicator that they are bored and could be on a one way trip to trouble.

Our first house.  The only house I ever lived in that I did not see before move in day.

The only house I ever lived in that I had not seen before.

We took a break, got in the car and headed to find a playground.  Prior to this, we had been to Hilton Head one time and one time only, and that was to go house hunting.  As I previously mentioned, we were renting this house, so the house hunt was unsuccessful. The world of renters was actually a nice break from the responsibility of home ownership.  We did not know the area, or the roads, and were not acclimated to Hilton Head Plantation at all.  We knew there was a playground here, but had no idea how to get there.  We were trying to find Dolphin Head, and ended up on Ribault Island.   There is no playground on Ribault Island, but if the gate is open, (and it is usually not) it is an experience to look at the beautiful homes that make up this  ultra-private section of Hilton Head Plantation.

When we finally wound our way along the beautiful tree lined streets, past the golf courses, and lagoons, we found the Dolphin Head Recreation Center.  The Sea greeted us with a warm smile.  For a moment I sat in the car and took it all in.  The playground equipment, basketball courts, Mossy Oaks, Sea Wall and the Port Royal Sound.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  This was my playground, this was where my children would come to swing, climb and spin.  I thought about the playgrounds back in Pennsylvania, and even in all my beloved New Jersey Beach Towns and nothing could compare.  We had made the right choice.

The view from the Swings at Dolphin Head Playground.

The view from the playground at Dolphin Head Recreation Center.

Dolphin Head is so much more than a playground, there is a little beach house you can rent with a full kitchen.  We have had many a birthday and family event in that little house.  There is also a walking path along the bluff and a beach you can walk, play and have awesome scavenger hunts on.   If you walk all the way to the end of the beach and around the point,  you will find yourself at a point between two bodies of water, it is beautiful, and is also my husbands favorite fishing spot.

My husband's favorite fishing spot.

My husband’s favorite fishing spot.

Dolphin Head Recreation Center in located within the private gated community of Hilton Head Plantation.  Unlike Sea Pines, you can not pay to enter Hilton Head Plantation, you have to know someone to visit so they can call in a guest pass.    I believe hands down that the playground at Dolphin Head is the most beautiful playground around, and as an added bonus, if you get there at the right time, you can catch the most beautiful sunset around.

Sunset from Dolphin Head.

Sunset from Dolphin Head.

I will be highlighting many of the playgrounds on Hilton Head, and other coastal towns in the coming months.

Lions, and Tigers, and Gators….Oh My.

Coastal Parenting is a unique life.  Before we sold our house, quit our jobs and moved to an island off of South Carolina to raise our children by the sea, I didn’t really give alligators much thought.   Now I think of alligators daily, you hear stories about them crawling up onto peoples porches, mistaking the backyard pool for a lagoon, and sometimes, (once in three years) they will show up lost and disoriented in the sandy surf of the ocean where they don’t belong.

When we started our hunt for our ‘forever’ house, we were island newbies, and I was insistant that we did not look at a single house on a lagoon.  I had small children and a dog and I had heard too many crazy alligator stories.  I googled alligator attacks on children and found nothing, so I felt safer, but still would not look at property on a lagoon.  Well as life would have it, my ‘forever’ house, the one that spoke to me, directly in my ear with a persistent “buy me, buy me, buy me” the one I made my husband go back and look at 3 times, the one that had more square footage than we ever imagined, but needed a complete overhaul, the house we closed on was on a lagoon.

ImageI talked to the woman we bought the house from and she told us that there were gators in the lagoon, (a given) there are gators in every lagoon, but that she had only once seen one on her side of the lagoon, and never in the yard.  This reassured me a little bit.   So early on, we would see a gator sunning himself on the other side of the lagoon.Image,

He generally does stay on that side of the lagoon, that is where it is sunnier.  The thing about gators that a lot of visitors to our island do not know is that once they are fed by a human, they become more aggressive.  They are not smart creatures, they have been on this earth for a very long time, but I believe they have a very small brain.  So, if you are a visitor to this island, please look from a cautious distance, and

 DO NOT FEED

THE GATORS.