This past week was a tough one to put it mildly. Thursday (October 19th) was the 2nd anniversary of my brother’s death. (Anniversary is a weird word to use because I like to think of anniversaries as happy times). Anywho, Corey and I drove to San An]]><![CDATA[tonio to spend some time with my sweet Momma at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort. We’re definitely Hyatt people – all their resorts are adult + kid friendly. There’s a ton of stuff to do, and each resort is always in a gorgeous and reflective setting. Perfect for a very pineapple trip.

Corey was very excited to see his Noni – he’s actually cheering for her in this picture “Noni! Noni! Noni!”

hyatt regency hill country resort

We had a beautiful balcony where Corey could run around + Mom and I could sip cocktails. The view was perfect.

hyatt regency hill country

 

Big Guy saw the AAASSSTTTRRROOOOOSSS (hooray for the World Series!) on the TV in the bar at the hotel. We had to go in for dinner so he could watch the game. This guy loves him some Astros baseball.

That hat though… Mr. Cabana Man.

hyatt regency hill country resort

It was definitely a somber, reflective trip for us. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way though. Lots of memories, tears, laughter, and missing my brother + daddy like crazy.

hyatt regency hill country

On our walk Thursday morning, we saw two cardinals. I’ve said this before, and it may be weird to you, but I really believe that birds represent loved ones. Jimmy’s high school mascot was a cardinal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been missing him and not moments later, I see a cardinal. I never see them when I’m just having an ‘ordinary’ day. My mom and I took that as a sign that he was with us on our walk.

hyatt regency hill country resort

hyatt regency hill country resort

Corey was mesmerized by this rabbit. This guy was brave – we walked within a couple feet of him and he just gave us the stare down. Brave Little Bunny.

hyatt regency hill country resort

At the end of our walk, we walked by this gorgeous tree where dozens of birds + squirrels were eating (the resort lays feed out so you can watch them chow down). All of the animals ran away as we approached except for this dove. Like I said, I think birds represent people. Guess who this one is. The day my dad died, my mom, aunt, and I all saw doves in different places. My aunt is frequently visited by a dove on days when she’s feeling very blue. I’d like to think this portly, tenacious dove was my daddy. The sign says it all, too.

hyatt regency hill country resort

As a dose of humor, I’d like to show you proof of Corey’s current shoe obsession. He really digs my heels.

hyatt regency hill country resort

On our last night, we bravely decided to take Corey to the resort’s fantastic upscale restaurant: Antler’s Lodge. We were a bit early, so Corey got to stare at all the golf carts and yell at all the golfers as they were on the driving range. I’m sure they just loved his enthusiasm…

hyatt regency hill country resort

Noni + Grandbaby

hyatt regency hill country

My snuggly little man. He was the great distraction + source of ‘busy-ness’ that we needed.

hyatt regency hill country resort

In an unrelated note – I did get to wear some of my favorite new pants on the trip. These babies are wicked comfy. Case in point: I loaded the car, gave Corey a bath (all thanks to him playing with his poopy diaper – gross), drove 3 hours, unloaded everything, and walked around the resort. Felt like I was wearing leggings all day instead of jeans/pants. Definitely a winner! Gotta find the positive even on bad days, right?

Wit & Wisdom Ab-solution Stretch Twill Skinny Pants

wit & wisdom ab-solution stretch twill skinny pants

On the drive home – all I’ve gotta say is praise the Lord for DVD players in cars + Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Three hours is a long time when your toddler won’t nap in the car.

road trip

I hope y’all had a great week!

Oh, and GO ASTROS!!!

We had such a great summer of travel + family + friends + FOOD! But now that we’ve been back to normal for a couple of weeks, I’m already dreaming of our next vacay. I’ve been brooding over the places we’ll go, the food we’ll devour, the drinks we’ll sip (or devour, too), and the things we’ll see. I love a place that has culture, food presence, and also natural beauty. Charleston definitely fit all of those criteria, so the next place has a lot to live up to.


Idea #1: Traverse City, MI

I know this may seem super weird to you if you’re not into the food scene, but this is quickly becoming one of the culinary capitals in America. I love it for that, of course, but also because a certain sooommmeeeonnnee has his summer house there. Who could that be, you ask? MARIO. FREAKING. BATALI. That’s who.

haserot beach park

I follow him on Instagram, and his pictures are just breathtaking. The water is clear, the flowers are beautiful, and the weather isn’t one hundred mother loving degrees. I’m sold. They also have microbreweries, distilleries, and wineries that I’d love to try. Take me now!

forty five north vineyard


Idea #2: Nashville, TN (Smoky Mountains)

Jon Boy has wanted to visit Tennessee for a long time. We were actually going to go before we found out we were pregnant with Big man, but those plans quickly changed! I’d love to taste some Nashville Hot Chicken, go listen to some rugged, raw country music, and tour the many musically historic sites that Nashville has to offer.

hattie b's hot chicken

After exploring Nashville for a couple of days, Jon Boy and I want to stay up in a cabin in the mountains. It kind of freaks me out to be so secluded, but I’d also relish in the absolute quiet that would be happenin’. These have a ton of different cabins you can rent in all price ranges (and not in the “glamping” kind of way either), so I’d be down for doing this for at least a couple of days.

great smoky mountains

Smoky-Mountains-National-Park

[check out these gorgeous photos of the Smoky Mountains]


Idea #3: Boston, MA

I think this is Jon’s #1 next destination. I told him that since I picked Charleston, he can pick our next boy + girl getaway (which probably won’t happen for another 5 years). I imagine we’ll end up in good ole Boston. I’m totes okay with that! Super fresh seafood + rich history + that accent – how could you go wrong?

boston freedom trail

Another great thing about Boston would be visiting the Newport Mansions [who, it turns out, work in partnership with one of my fave jewelry brands: Alex and Ani]. I’m definitely in love with history and architecture, so this would be a must-do on our list! It’s a bit of a drive from Boston, but that’s part of the draw of New England. You can get to so many places in such a short amount of time and cover so much history that it makes it worth the effort to get around.

newport mansions

I think we’d also have to visit Nantucket. I mean come one. So freaking beautiful.

nantucket


Idea #4: Florida Keys

My brother + sister-in-law both said that the Keys are a must-do. They’ve been a couple of times themselves and say that it’s one of the most unique but fun experiences they’ve ever had. Jon and I have been watching Bloodline (if you haven’t – for shame!), and we’ve been talking about how beautiful the setting is. The Keys seems like America’s best beach, but if you disagree, lemme know where a better one is.

florida keys

A beach vacation is always a good idea, but I love that the Keys has its own character. The food is apparently fantastic, you have a wide range of options for lodging, and they boast that you should “come as you are”. Deal. I’m in yoga pants + a camo t-shirt. Be there ASAP.

florida keys food


Where do you want to go next? It doesn’t have to be in the States, we’re just cheap like that.

I love these dunes. I don’t know why. They’re just grass and funky fences really, but they’re just so pretty! They remind me of all of Nicholas Sparks’s novels [but without the tears].

[and yes, that apostrophe “s” is correct… don’t make me go Grammar Nazi on you…]

charleston travel

We slept in super late [again] and then headed to the beach. Jon Boy did some body surfing while I did some body tanning. It was the perfect “do-nothing” day on the beach!

charleston travel

After showering and resting, we headed out to our anniversary dinner in our sweet ride!

Check out my sexy driver…

charleston travel

So… we decided to try Sullivan’s Restaurant for dinner. We heard the seafood was good, and the prices online looked pretty reasonable. I have to say we were definitely NOT impressed. This place might be good if you’re looking for something cheap and fried. We ate maybe 1/3 of our food and decided we would leave as soon as we’d eaten enough to be polite. If you like fried seafood, this is your place.

charleston travel

After Sullivan’s, we decided to go have a cocktail on the water to celebrate our official five year anniversary. The Boathouse at Breach Inlet was on the way back to the condo, so we just stopped over for a couple of drinks. The view was beautiful [we saw tons of dolphins!] and the bartender was hilarious. Definitely a great spot!

charleston travel

Love this [had-slightly-too-much-sun] man!

charleston travel

Jon really wanted to see the marina that’s near our condo on Isle of Palms, so we ventured a little ways to go have an appetizer and a beverage at Morgan Creek Grill. [We weren’t necessarily full/satisfied after Sullivan’s…] We had the peel and eat shrimp and a few beers. It was a great way to end the day! The view was really fun because we saw all kinds of boats, yachts, and folks going in and out of the marina. The menu looked pretty great, too. We wished we’d eaten here for dinner actually!

charleston travel

Meanwhile… back in Houston with his Noni…

Corey

We spent the next morning drinking coffee and watching THE one-and-only Harry Potter! What else would we be doing as 30-something parents w/o kids?

charleston travel

Then, we ventured out to the beach for our last full day in paradise. I LOVE this bathing suit + cover up. I spared you the full-body shot, though… you’re welcome. We decided to keep it low-key and cooked at home for dinner [we made THIS winner, winner chicken dinner]. It was the perfect, intimate ending to our wonderful time in Charleston.

charleston travel

We were sad to leave, but so ready to see our little man! It’s tough to be gone so long when they’re so little. I swear he became a teenager in just the 5 days we were gone…

charleston travel

And this is my current mood… Thank you, Grumpy Cat, for understanding me.

need vacation grumpy cat

Day 3 was a busy, busy, busy and FUN day in Charleston! We started the day by running [cough* I walked *cough] on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge near our hotel. Jon actually ran the whole 2 1/2 miles one-way and walked back with me the rest. Let’s just say I got to the highest point, took my pictures, and headed on back.

charleston travel

It was definitely worth this view though.

charleston travel

charleston travel

We tried some fantastic coffee after we got back from our run. It was right next to the hotel, and it turns out, they actually have a few Revelator Coffees in Texas. They even sell it in Whole Foods! Guess where I’m going when we get back! This coffee was smooth and not overpowering at all.

revelator coffee

After we showered and checked out of the hotel, we walked around near the Waterfront Park for a bit. We didn’t last too long walking around because it was HOT, HOT, HOT!

charleston travel

I loooooved this fountain! So indicative of Charleston’s history and beauty.

charleston travel

After we had walked around [and sweated our butts off], we went by the Old City Jail really quickly to get a glimpse of the haunted place our tour guide told us about.

charleston travel

It’s said that the average life expectancy in this jail/asylum/workhouse was only 3 months. Horrible conditions contributed to this figure, but it’s sad nonetheless. Lots of residents have said they hear voices and see flickering lights event to this day. They do have night tours of the jail, but I’m way too much of a chicken for all that mess. We would’ve done the day tour, but we just ran out of time.

charleston travel

See how these doors are painted blue? It’s that Haint Blue I was talking about yesterday. Superstition says that it will keep the evil spirits away that live in the jail [which btw is just across the street].

charleston travel

We traveled out to Boone Hall Plantation after leaving Downtown Charleston. It was on the way to Sullivan’s Island, which is where we’re staying now, so it worked out perfectly to stop in for a couple of hours.

boone hall plantation

The most poignant part of the plantation for us was the slave history portion of the tour. It’s a self-guided tour in which you walk in-and-out of nine different slave houses. They depict different pieces of the slaves’ lives back in the day. I was struck by a few things:

  1. These homes are actually some of the NICEST slave homes that were in existence. Can you imagine? This tiny little place being the best of the best.

boone hall plantation

2. The tour guides went on-and-on about reminding us that if it weren’t for these slaves, the plantation wouldn’t be what it is today.

[mixed emotions about that]

boone hall plantation

3. I wondered how many hundreds [or thousands?] of people lived and died working this plantation [and all the others] for their masters. It was very much like walking through a Holocaust museum, to me anyways. It was really tough to say the least.

boone hall plantation

boone hall plantation

4. I’m glad we went, but it definitely surprised both of us how emotional we felt. I’m not sure I’d be up for visiting another plantation again. I think what hit the nail on the head for me was walking the plantation house and seeing a receipt for goods purchased in town. At the top of the list was a line item for a “Negro Girl” listed at $995.

boone hall plantation

boone hall plantation

We ended up not being able to get on the tour that goes around the [still working] entire plantation, but it was so hot, we were kind of okay with that. The house tour was beautiful though, and we saw so many gorgeous artifacts dating back to the 1700’s. Pretty cool to see that.

boone hall plantation

boone hall plantation

After walking around so much in the heat, we decided it was time for some gooooooooooood [and I mean GOOD] food and some refreshing cocktails. So, we went for the restaurant that was at the TOP of my list: The Obstinate Daughter.

the obstinate daughter

Buenos Melones: tequila + keylime + cantaloupe + peach + pineapple

Jon Boy had the Low Tide Tura’Lu Irish Red Ale

the obstinate daughter

The decor in this place was so cute! Beachy yet modern and not in an annoying way. It was very welcoming, too.

the obstinate daughter

the obstinate daughter

the obstinate daughter

the obstinate daughter

Low Country Shrimp Roll + Geechie Frites [basically polenta french fries – salty, crunchy, freaking yummy]

the obstinate daughter

Peel + Eat Shrimp

the obstinate daughter

Here’s the story of the Obstinate Daughter + the cartoon mentioned in the story

the obstinate daughter

The King’s Honey: vodka + St. Germain + honey basil soda + lemon

the obstinate daughter

Genuinely, and I don’t say this lightly or easily, the BEST thing I’ve ever put into my gluttonous mouth. I can’t even. I’m going to have dreams about this for YEARS.

Ricotta Gnocchi + Short Rib Ragu + Horseradish + Pine Nut Gremolata

the obstinate daughter

The waitress suggested a fantastic wine to go with the gnocchi, too. I had the Grechetto Arnaldo-Caprai “Grecante” 2012. And no, I can’t pronounce it and wouldn’t have remembered it if I hadn’t taken a picture of the menu. But I do plan on trying to find it in Texas, my friend. This wine was smooth, buttery, and mineral-based. And I drank it in 5 minutes flat. Sorry, not sorry.

the obstinate daughter

Once we were stuffed, we went to our final destination: The Wild Dunes Resort at the Isle of Palms.

charleston travel

charleston travel

We’re literally a 30 second walk to the beach, but not facing directly into any sun. It’s got a screened-in porch, kitchen, living room, and all the comfiness and privacy we wanted!

charleston travel

Hello, you sexy thing, you.

charleston travel

Cheers to another great day!

charleston travel

Day 2 is in the books! Charleston did not disappoint by any means on our second day here. We slept in super late (because hello… no toddler + no schedule = parents sleeping in well past an acceptable time). Once we were ready to go (around noon, my friends… NOON), we headed out to Palmetto Carriage Works for our horse-drawn carriage tour of Charleston. We’d definitely recommend this company over others because all their drivers must pass tests in order to become tour guides. Ours was fantastic and gave us so much history of the city as well as a few laughs along the way.

charleston travel

I like their sense of humor, too.

charleston travel

You check in about 30 minutes before your time (and DEF buy your ticket online because you save a couple of bucks and don’t have to wait in the heat). Then, they organize you into groups that work for the carriage, and you’re off at your scheduled time (ish – ours left about 10 minutes after the time, but this barn is worth waiting in, trust me). Here’s a picture of our little bench we waited on:

charleston travel

charleston travel

Look at these cute little muffins! Gah! I want seven, please.

charleston travel

Our tour was unbelievably interesting – our driver was the best. He even threw in jokes about his ex-wife. Our two horse buddies you see were named Yogi and Boo-Boo. I knew we were off to a good start by the names alone.

Charleston has their tourism down, let me say. To find their route [and no – there isn’t a set one for each tour], the drivers head to a centralized station where an – no lie – old Bingo machine chooses which route that driver will take at that moment. Only a certain number of carriages are allowed out at a time, so each one can’t take the same route. It was pretty cool to see actually! Their sanitation system is on-point, too, but I won’t go into those details.

charleston travel

The pictures speak for themselves, so… sorry-not-sorry for the tons of pictures of these gorgeous homes in this gorgeous city!

charleston travel

History nerd here again: these pineapple pieces you see [sometimes aren’t even pineapples but are actually some fancy, funky acorn] are meant as a symbol of welcome and joy. Back in the day, sailors would return from their exotic destinations with baskets of exotic fruits for their wives. The wives would then spear a pineapple out on the fence posts as a sign of good tidings and welcoming of guests to their homes. Jon and I both remarked that it’s an interesting [and big God moment] that I have my pineapple moments that are very mixed in emotion while these are so obviously a positive piece of history. I love, love, love their symbolism.

charleston travel

THE. FREAKING. FLOWERS.

I can’t even.

charleston travel

charleston travel

THIS HOUSE!!! Y’all… it’s been on the market for around 9 years. Listed at a mere $19.5 million if you’re in the market. It’s so small though – only 17,000 square feet. A place for peasants, indeed. It’s known as the Sword House because of the swords inlaid into the gate of the home.

charleston travel

charleston travel

One super cool thing about these homes [besides being preserved SO beautifully] were their outdoor ceilings. I don’t know if you can tell, but they are painted Haint Blue. This is because of an old Western African superstition that a spirit would come and suck your soul out at night while you slept. These spirits fear the water, however, so folks would paint their ceilings blue to keep them away. Nearby, at the freaky jail/insane asylum/workhouse, people kept seeing flickering lights and hearing scary sounds at night. They decided to paint their doors this same Haint Blue to keep bad spirits out. We’re thinking of touring the jail tomorrow, so we’ll see how scary that turns out to be. Super interesting history, though!

charleston travel

This is the market square. So, the super history nerd in me was super intrigued. Our Uber driver the previous night said this place was the Slave Market. I hated it instantly for obvious reasons. However, our tour guide told us it was actually the Slave’s Market. As in the place where slaves went to purchase goods for their masters’ homes. Not where they were sold. It made me feel slightly better that it’s still standing [and is actually a fantastic market to shop in btw]. This first building was actually the butcher’s market [you can kind of make out the heads of cattle inlaid into the building’s architecture]. They’d slaughter the cattle in the arch beneath the building and sell it above that.

Another interesting fact: Charleston “eagles” would perch above the building and eat the scraps the butchers would throw out [and therefore help with sanitation]. You’d be fined $500 [back in the day, clearly a large sum] if you hurt the birds in any way. Oh and… btw… these “eagles” were actually turkey vultures.

charleston travel

So, as you might have seen in my 284 pics before this one of beautiful homes, most houses are long, rectangular homes with an open porch [called a piazza] on the sides. Their front doors actually open into the piazza and not straight into the home. This is because back in the day, folks would purposefully build their homes to get the most breeze. They’d even sleep on the piazza. If this front door was open, it meant guests were welcome into the home. If the door was closed, that was a subtle way of saying, “Get lost.”

charleston travel

charleston travel

You can barely see it in this picture [I’ll take a photography class at some point], but this little building was actually where all the work was done that the home needed (i.e. the ugly parts of cooking like slaughtering something, cleaning gross things – hello, chamber pots, and even keeping the horses cleaned, watered, and fed).

charleston travel

charleston travel

These. Freaking. Stairs.

How do they even do this with the plants?! I can’t even keep my eyebrows groomed this well…

charleston travel

After our beautiful carriage ride, we were famished so we went to a great place right near the Red Barn of the Palmetto Carriage Co. Henry’s Bar + Restaurant was FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC! The service was quick, the beer was cold, and the food was soooo good. I had the Fried Green Tomato [ohh yes] BLT with fries.

henry's charleston

Jon Boy had his favorite food ever, the Shrimp Po’Boy. It was delicious.

henry's charleston

I didn’t snap a picture of these bad boys yesterday, so I had to throw them in here. Charleston Rice Beads are a huge thing! They can be colored [like mine below] or they also come in sterling silver or plated gold. All of them are beautiful, but I wanted to start my collection off with these colored lovelies. It’s actually a necklace that can become a wrap bracelet as well. We got mine at Candy Shop Vintage right near our hotel, but you can find them anywhere. I’d suggest starting at the market. Gold Creations is another fantastic jewelry store that will ship to your home [located in the market, too].

charleston rice beads

Heading out to dinner… blurry but full of love.

{Yes, mushy… get over it.}

charleston travel

For dinner, we knew we wanted to get into Husk. Jon’s brother and his wife actually visited Charleston just last week and told us we HAD to go here. They were so right! We got there at 5:15 to put our name on the list [they do take reservations, but I’d have had to make them a month ago – seriously]. If we wanted to sit inside, we’d have to wait until 8:45, but they sat us immediately on the patio. It was a little hot, but the food and drinks were delicious. I mean, just look at how beautiful!

husk charleston

whipped ricotta + fig + honey

husk charleston

the BEST oysters you’ll ever eat in your life

husk charleston

homemade *freaking amazing* rolls + a fancy cocktail with tequila + sauvignon blanc

husk charleston

*pardon me while I swoon*

husk charleston

We are loving our time together! This guy makes everything fun.

XOXO

charleston travel

Whew! We are so pooped. We actually got our dinner to-go and ate the rest while watching Harry Potter in our hotel room with some screw-top cabernet. It. Was. Perfect.

Cheers to another great day!