Treasure Hunting: Family Adventures

Every year for the past three years at least, our family tries to make our way over at least a few times from Jan-Feb to one of my favorite spots on the GA coast, Jekyll Island. If you are unfamiliar with the island its a small island off the Southern coast of Georgia that was once a vacation spot for big names such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Pulitzer, etc who built “cottages” there and had an exclusive hunting club. The island is now a State Park and home to both historic landmarks and beautiful beaches.

During the cooler months when tourism is down, we find it the best time to partake in the many trails/bike paths all over the island as we don’t have to become food sources for the insect population. It’s also this time of year (Jan 1- Feb 28) when the island hosts its annual treasure hunt!

The treasure hunt is based on a hobby from the 1950s when beach-goers would collect hollow glass balls/floats that fishermen would use to mark their nets when they broke free and drifted on shore.

As you may have read in my New Year’s post, the Moose and I have made a joint decision to disconnect this year and spend more time outdoors with the girls. We took the somewhat warmer day (above freezing) as a sign to do just that. We packed up the girls and dressed them and ourselves warmly and went on an adventure.

We went along the trail leading towards the historic district keeping our eyes out for treasures and stopping along the way to read and discuss some of the historic sites with Little Bit.

We did make it all the way to the historic district but the wind had picked up, the clouds started to come in and the girls were cold. We headed back, walking about 3 miles round trip and having a lot of fun!

While we didn’t find any treasure this weekend we hope to come back soon with better luck!

I’d love to hear from you! What adventures do you like to go on with your kiddos or significant other?

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Good for the Soul Kinda Weekend

Friday ended up being a surprise date-night for hubby and I when I called to invite a friend and her daughter to dinner with us and she said yes but then called back and said that her hubby was getting off of work early and didn’t really want to go out so why didn’t she keep Lil Bit and let her play while we went out. This is probably something normal for most folks but we don’t go out much without Lil Bit despite the fact that we know we should. I think we have that duel-working-parents guilt so time not at work should be spent with our child.

Anyways, the stars continued to align and we made excellent timing to a restaurant that my husband had made a reservation which apparently ended up being pointless as we walked right on in, something usually unheard of on a Friday night. I guess the ran or threat of had held everyone off….

Then Saturday baby girl and I made excellent time to go to the local Farmer’s Market, got everything we came for, grass-fed, free-range milk, fresh goat cheese, handmade pastas, and Merlot salt. The weather, normally hot at the time of day we attended the market, was gorgeous. When we came home the rain came down, we spent a lovely evening with my husband, curled on the sofa watching old Disney movies and eating popcorn.

My good fortune continued when the rain had stopped the next day, the three of us headed to do some volunteer work for our local state park. Afterwards we headed to the beach where we thoroughly enjoyed all the beauty and relaxation that pre-tourist season and cloudy weather offer.

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When we’d all had just a little too much sun and not enough food in our bellies, we drove back to civilization and enjoyed another quicker-than-normal meal, it started raining on the way back home but the rough weather held out until we were home and bathed. That night after hubby and I put Lil Bit to bed we heard the whippoorwill crank up outside and opened the backdoor to our own little serenade….I think we just all have to be grateful for small blessings like these. Those moments we hold onto in the weariness of days coming when it’s all we can do to make it through the work day, kick off our shoes and start cooking dinner, caring for kids and albeit crawling into bed. I hope it gets me through this work week before our family mini-vacay. Anyways, here’s hoping your weekend was a good.

Our first M ‘n’ M day

No not the candies….although that does sound pretty good at the moment…

Today was our first of what I hope to be many Mommy and “Lil Bit” days. The Empress here finally got the grande ok from all persons (including herself) to go from full-time “40 hours” (truly closer to 60 most weeks) down to “32 hours” (probably actual 40 hrs a week) thus allowing more time for things like the Lil Bit, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, sanity……

My main issue when deciding to do this was really the perception of how things were supposed to be in my head versus what they really could and probably should be. I’m not loosing (that) much monetary or otherwise by dropping down to 4 days/week, but as today already has shown me, I’m gaining so much more.

My Lil Bit and I had planned since last Thursday to go to the Toddler Time gymnastics at our gym early this morning. She’s under-the-weather with the tail end of a cold but depending on how she was doing afterwards I’d take her to the Tot Drop (that she views as a treat) and go workout a bit myself. Well those plans came to a halt when the wicked witch lady at the front desk informed us, somewhat callously, that Toddler Time had been changed to Tuesdays and Thursdays….great, now I’ve built my darling up all weekend long and am now going to deal with her crushed hopes and dreams hurt feelings. To my surprise she was upset for all of two seconds and then excited to go play with the swarm of other children who just happened to be there when I needed them today.

The rest of the day was grocery shopping, cooking dinner and hanging with daddy….at a much less rushed pace. It’s hard to describe this almost “weight-lifted-off shoulders” sort of elation I’m enjoying at the moment (although some of that may be do to my full belly and half-a-beer warmness I’m enjoying post-consumption this evening.)

So tonight I cooked my famous (at our house anyway) version of Ina Garten’s engagement chicken, I always do variations of it but it’s a quick easy dinner with lots of leftovers that I use the pulled chicken from the bone for other recipes.

The Everyday Empress’ Roasted Chicken

1 whole roaster chicken (I prefer Springer Mountain brand) 4-5lbs

2 lemons

2 heads of garlic

kosher salt or coarse sea salt (approx 2 tsp)

1/2 to 1 cup low-no sodium chicken broth (White Wine and Herb this time)

1/2 cup white wine (if not using above White Wine and Herb)

2 tbs butter, melted and set aside to cool slightly

(optional small roaster potatoes, onion in chunks or carrots, we used rainbow carrots and sweet onion tonight from our local organic co-op)

  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Remove giblets if present from chicken, rinse chicken off and dry with paper towels, salt liberally inside and out
  • cut 1 lemons into 8ths and 1 head of garlic across the top leaving the cloves exposed, removing most of the husk either cut in half or place with 8ths of lemons into cavity until full. (You can tie the legs together but I don’t find the need)
  • Cut remaining lemon into quarters and peel remainder of garlic throw into large basting pan with chicken and veggies
  • place about half of chicken broth/white wine in the pan and if desired the veggies mentioned above
  • Coat chicken with butter using basting brush
  • Cook for about 1 hr then check internal temp with meat thermometer (if you don’t have one, get oneseriously!!! cooking meat to temperature leaves you with juicy, safe-to-eat meat)
  • If top of chicken browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil over it loosely to reflect heat
  • Once chicken to temperature pull it out to serving place to rest and cover with aluminum foil loosely
  • If remaining veggies not quite done, lower temp to 350’F and cook for a few more mins (5-10 usually does the trick)
  • Use drippings and veggies to pour on top of carved chicken and serve immediately
  • Remaining chicken is great to use in chicken salad, chicken tetrazzini or even to toss on top of a salad

Your Mama is not a Llama

So you know that point in your child’s life when they become a monkey? Mine has apparently reached this milestone. Not only is Lil Bit climbing all of the furniture but also all over me.

Llama

I know I’ve mentioned mother’s guilt before and how busy my schedule is but I think it may be beginning to get a little worse. This blog is my retreat from real life and journal to record Lil Bit’s moments and growth. I absolutely love my sweet girl. Until she was born I didn’t know it was possible to feel so incredibly proud and love someone so much who was able to spontaneously fill my heart with love and at the same time aggravate me to the point of pulling my hair out.

The llama above was in a petting portion of an animal safari thing we went to that Lil Bit loved. The whole weekend was one of the best we have had yet. Despite her driving me crazy at times, getting to watch her grow up and learning new things and experiencing things for the first time is truly my privilege. Christmas was one of those things this year.  Last year she was pretty new to this world but this year she toddled into the living room and her face lit up and her mouth formed that perfect little surprised “o” as she saw all of the presents Santa had left for her.  “Brrrmmmmmm” was her reaction to her pink princess quad that Santa left her as she climbed on and after we showed her where the button was she was off running her other presents over. It was both precious and hilarious as the poor cat ran away for dear life. There are so many things I can’t wait to do with her as she continues to grow. I hope I can continue to try to look on the positive and humorous side of things as this year moves forward. I think this is my new year’s resolution, to try to find the funny side of things this year.  I think last year’s was pretty well met as my simple resolution was to be happy, and I can surely say that snuggled up in the bed with the hubby and little one sleeping soundly THROUGH THE NIGHT in her crib, I ended my year happy and grateful.

What is your new year’s resolution?

This is not a sad post

I actually started working on this a couple of days ago before the tragedies today. So it is entirely unrelated and not devastating like the news right now.

So after the Sunday of Suck, little sister and I took Lil Bit shopping for the remainder of her Christmas (She’s only a year old so she didn’t much notice). It was such a great and busy day. Japanese food, Target and groceries where I spent $113 for $223 worth of food. And mind you, we try to feed Lil’ Bit mostly organic and whole foodstuff.  No unfortunately all that savings did not come from Whole Paycheck Whole Foods as I don’t have one near me (it’s an hr away).

I coupon, but I’m not one of those get-everything-for-free-rearrange-my-house-to-store-it kinda folks. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch an episode of the couponing show on TLC. One episode is enough though, unless you like that sort of thing. Anyway I can highly recommend this site if you are interested.

Life seems much better at the moment, except Elmo is creepy as hell sometimes. Just sayin’.