Apple Picking at Sky Top Orchard


It is no secret this is our favorite Kummerow Family Tradition. It’s also no secret we go more for the photos than the apples. I think I love it here so much because our first time visiting Sky Top Orchard was just weeks before Eleanor was born. I knew then we would have to come back every year.


Alex took the day off work on Friday so we could beat the crowds this year. We also went earlier in the year because of our hectic fall schedule. I like waiting a few more weeks so it is cooler but we always wind up hot and sweaty from traipsing through the orchard anyhow.

We chose Sky Top for our fall apple picking tradition for one reason. You can get apples at any orchard, but only Sky Top’s fresh apple cider doughnuts rank in the Williams Sonoma list of Best Doughnuts in America.


I know kid, it’s exciting news!


Yes we seriously go for the doughnuts! It’s always our first stop. I was so shocked to find there was no line when we arrived. Usually we go on a weekend and the line is an hour long. On Friday at 10:30am we walked right up, paid four our dozen and gobbled them down. It all took less than 10 minutes.


We do things in the same exact order every year. Doughnuts, check. Obligatory yearly photos, check.


For comparison’s sake…


Oh my goodness, when did Ruthie grow up? Look at that feisty big girl! I’m not sure I can even call her a toddler anymore!

Our family photo was next.


Then we took to the hills. Quite literally. It isn’t easy to pick apples at Sky Top with young children. Nestled right in the mountains, the apple orchard is very steep in some places. Alex and I muscled through the morning, but I was a sweaty mess by the time we returned from picking apples. We stopped to get all the good photos first, then wondered through orchard letting the girls stop to pick every now and then.

The girls weren’t really into it this year. I’m hoping next year we will all be climbing trees and reaching for the best apples.

On the way out Eleanor managed to walk most of the way. On the way back in she insisted on a wagon ride. (By the way, this is against the rules, shhh, don’t tell!)


It was my goal this year to purchase at least as many apples as doughnuts. I believe we failed. We bagged our eight or ten apples, played at the playground and then retreated to the car for our packed picnic lunch.


I don’t think we have enough apples to make all the fabulous treats I talked about last week but maybe I’ll still manage to bake us a pie to go with our chili Sunday night.

What are your family traditions? Do you go apple picking?

I gotta mention here, after we were back in the car headed home, Eleanor started talking about wanting to go apple picking again. I was so excited that she enjoyed our family tradition, but then she said, “when we go next time we aren’t going to take photos though, right Mommy?” Kid, I gotcha, taking pictures sometimes sucks all the fun out of things. I am the worst at the Wait, let me take a photo! game. I understand it drives my family nuts. You should see the production it takes to get these beautiful photos! I wish I could just get them to understand that if they sat still and smiled it would go so much quicker. I wish I could say that next year we will go just for fun and not for pictures but I don’t think that will be true. But I am going to use this gentle reminder to put the camera down and live in the moment more.

Meal Plan Monday: the week before vacation

Meal planning is like a puzzle. Sometimes I get it right and I feel like running around high fiving everyone. Sometimes I get it all wrong and the week feels awful and long. It’s one of those kind of weeks around here. I blame our vacation looming on the horizon. I’m just so ready to be away from the kitchen for a full week!

This week I tried to plan through the weekend to get it us to our trip and it failed miserably. I even thought I could plan right into our road trip food all in one swoop and I was wrong. I got excited when our initial grocery bill was just under $100. But now we have been back to the store at least twice, I’ve had one more Walmart online grocery order on Thursday and we still need to go to Target for diapers before our trip. This week has been a total and complete fail! But so you can learn from my mistakes I’m posting it anyway. Your welcome!

Sunday: Dinner out at Bad Daddy’s

Monday: Pork Nachos

Tuesday: Pork Fried Rice

Wednesday: Burgers and green beans

Thursday: Pasta with Cauliflower Sauce for the girls Melting Pot for the adults

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Burgers and sweet potatoes and roasted cauliflower

Sunday: Chili and cornbread

Above is what we ended up eating on each day. It actually didn’t resemble my plan at all.

On Sunday I originally planned to make Southwest Veggie Bowls. Sometimes I will just push a meal back in the week if my time doesn’t work on the exact day, but I never got around to making it this week. I ended up throwing the kale away and using the sweet potatoes in another dish. Instead we dropped Eleanor off at Awanas and took Ruthie to Bad Daddy’s and used a coupon to help with the cost.


For Monday night football we planned a fun treat. I made this recipe for Kalua Pork in the slow cooker and started it Sunday afternoon. I topped chips with cheddar cheese, pork, roasted broccoli, black beans and salsa and served with guacamole and greek yogurt on the side.


You guys, I think my taste buds are changing, or just finally settling into a rhythm. I hated this pork. And it wasn’t the pork at all. My family gobbled it up. I am usually a huge fan of pork but I couldn’t touch it this week. I picked all the pieces off my nachos. I tried it again the next day and still couldn’t eat it. The girls really loved eating nachos for dinner though!


On Tuesday I used the rest of the pork to make a quick fried rice. I wish I would have done our usual cauliflower fried rice instead of real rice because I feel like we were lacking vegetables all week. For this recipe I prepared mine on the side without the pork. The girls didn’t eat the fried rice very well but Alex loved it! I didn’t use a recipe but just mimicked what we have been making in the past.


Wednesday was a rough day. I had nothing left in me and we resorted to eating freezer food. Alex came home from work and cooked burgers and green beans. I didn’t even manage to snap a photo but I was so grateful to Alex for picking up the slack. I had originally planned to make chili this day and the leftovers would have been great to have for the week. I hate when I fall off my plan! I need to have one of those freezer cook days and stick 4 or 5 casseroles in the freezer for such a day as this.

We had fun plans Thursday night. Our friend Carrie turned 40 and we were invited to a surprise birthday party for her at the Melting Pot. I boiled noodles and mixed with the last of the cauliflower sauce for the babysitter and the girls and Alex and I enjoyed a feast of fondue!


It was half-price wine night and without the kids in sight it was going down so smooth! We ate the Wisconsin Cheddar as our first course, I had the California salad and Alex had the House. Then we enjoyed shrimp, chicken, pork and steak cooked in broth and some deep fried with tempura batter. I didn’t eat a single vegetable and then I had three times my share of chocolate! At our table we had S’mores and Dulce and Dark Chocolate. It was such an indulgence. We don’t have big nights out like this often and so I just went with it!


We felt rough on Friday for sure. Thankfully Alex had taken the day off work so we were able to move a little slower in the morning. I planned to make pizza Friday with a store bought dough and leftover toppings from previous pizza nights. The girls hate the cauliflower crust we have been making so they were excited to have real crust.


On Saturday we had burgers and sweet potatoes and roasted cauliflower. This meal is a standard in our house. Understandably so because it is easy and I can usually pass it off to Alex. In about one month we will be moving into our house and I will be so excited to have a grill again. As if we don’t eat burgers often enough, but they will continue to be on the rotation!

Finally on Sunday I made Chili. When I didn’t get to it Wednesday I knew I would keep it for football day. The Bears played in the Sunday Night game and we enjoyed pretending like it was Fall. But seriously where is the cold weather! Fingers crossed it will be here when we get back next week.

We spent a small fortune on food this week which is shocking since we also ate out so much. I’d love to share our grocery orders with you this week but I don’t think they would make much sense at all considering I didn’t make half the meals I planned. I am so excited to have a week without a meal plan. Good riddance!


So you went apple picking…now what to do with all those apples

You might have guessed at the end of yesterday’s post that we are headed apple picking on Friday. This is one of our favorite Fall traditions since before Eleanor was born. This year we are hoping to bring home at least as many apples as photos. I want to put a purpose behind the trip (besides the delicious doughnuts) so that the girls can really get into it this year.

If you know me at all then you know that I never buy food without a plan, and apples are not excluded. So before we head off to the orchard and bring home all the delicious apples, I’m taking a few minutes to decide what recipes we will make to utilize all of our bounty.


Obviously a new Pinterest Board was in order. Here is what I pinned:

  1. Easy Skillet Apple Pie


Alex loves apple pie and we love baking in the skillet (see skillet cornbread from last week’s meal plan). This is a no brainer! Plus it uses store bought crust and they recommend butter pecan ice cream as an accompaniment. This will be so good!

2. Slow Cooker Naked Apple Butter


I have been wanting to make apple butter my whole life. I’m finally going to do it with this very simple recipe. I’m hoping to have several jars we can keep in the fridge to last through the fall!

3. Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats


With some of the aforementioned apple butter I plan to make several jars of overnight oats to fuel us through the weekend and possibly even our road trip next week. These Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats look amazing!

4. No Bake Apple Cinnamon Bites


Don’t those look amazing? I think they would also make great road trip snacks. I love that it uses grated apple to give it a tart twist.

Because of said road trip, I think that will be all I have time for. What are your favorite ways to use up apples from your picking adventures? What are some of your favorite family traditions?


Joe’s Doughs, gymnastics and Awana nights plus more random thoughts and I found my JACKET!

Alternate title: all the photos from my phone that don’t fit in anywhere else.

On Friday last week Girls on the Run turned 20 years old! The girls and I drove to Charlotte to eat a GOTR themed doughnut. It seems a little crazy. We drove 24 minutes one way to eat a fried piece of dough. The strawberry basil flavor was almost worth the drive. A break in our normal routine was what made it really worth it.


A doughnut is never quite bad, but Joe’s Doughs didn’t really exceed my expectations. I had read a few bad reviews and I agreed with them. The chocolate on the sprinkle doughnut had a funny taste and although the doughnuts were fresh they weren’t that spectacular. I loved the flavor of the GOTR doughnut, but the lemon poppyseed was so strong it was hard to eat. I didn’t taste the cinnamon sugar one but brought it home for Alex. He didn’t have anything to say about it at all. Still, we had fun and got out of town and that’s all that matters!


And Eleanor was happy!


In other news: Ruthie got her first pair of icings (ruffly pants), fitting that we wore them to get doughnuts covered in icing!


I also got some fun mail this week.

I’ve been wearing my new shoes (Kenneth Cole via Ruelala similar here) all over trying to get used to heels again. I bought them for an upcoming trip to Lake Tahoe. I never wear heels and I will be wearing them every night on the trip so I have to do some practice.

Totally unrelated: our favorite activity of the week is gymnastics! We were invited to a birthday party at a local gym on Saturday. I had all three kiddos on my own and it was difficult, but they all had so much fun. And the other moms were eager to jump in and help when my arms were too full!


Eleanor and the birthday girl:


We also made it to a free play at the Lake Norman Y today. The girls just love to run crazy throughout the gym!


This kid is hysterical. I can sit and watch her all day. I’m not sure if it’s because she is so little, just so much personality wrapped up in a tiny little cabbage (<-what E calls packages) package or what?


I love that Eleanor has started Awana. Two reasons, she loves it and is learning so much, and we get a little quality time with our little while Eleanor is in class.


This week we had a coupon for Bad Daddy’s and got to enjoy a meal out with just Ruthie. She insisted on standing on a chair and refused to sit in a high chair. She thinks she’s 10, not 1. She refuses to be a little girl and wants to do everything big people do. It’s so funny but so dangerous!


I guess another title for this post could be The Ruthie Post. It sure seems like I have a lot of pictures of her this week.

The big news of the week is I found my beloved jacket. Or more accurately, my babysitter/friend found it. I cried tears of joy when I got this text Sunday:


And for fun…anyone else slice onions like this?


Alright, I’ll leave you with just this last photo.


I hope you guys have a great week. We have a very short one. On Friday Alex is taking the day off work so we can check off a big item on our Fall Bucket List. Any guesses?

Meal Plan Monday: eating like it’s Fall even if it still feels like Summer

We have a tradition in our family of exclaiming “Winner, Winner, _______ Dinner!” (fill in the blank). This week we had a Winner Winner Sweet Potato Dinner, a Winner Winner Rice Dinner, a Winner Winner Pasta Dinner, and a Winner Winner Cornbread Dinner. We let Eleanor fill in the blank and she just picks her favorite part of every meal to give it a name (obviously the girl loves carbs–don’t we all?!)

Sunday- Pizza and salad from Alino’s

Monday- Paleo Sloppy Joe’s on sweet potatoes

Tuesday- Gluten Free pasta with cauliflower sauce and roasted broccoli

Wednesday- Chickpea curry with rice

Thursday- CHICK FIL A!!

Friday- White bean and roasted mushroom soup with cornbread

Saturday- leftover pasta and Italian sausage and green beans

meal plan monday.png

We drove home from the beach Sunday afternoon. After a big breakfast we plowed right through lunch so were very hungry when we reached home around 3pm. We grabbed a pizza and salad from our favorite spot and had an early dinner before Eleanor’s first Awana class.

Monday I baked sweet potatoes and mixed up this quick Paleo Sloppy Joe. The family all thought it was chili but either way it was delicious. Kale chips on the side.


Tuesday we began respite care for a little boy Ruthie’s age. I knew it was going to be a busy week so I planned this meal so we would have plenty of leftovers to get us through lunches. We even had enough to make dinner on Saturday night as well. This Cauliflower Sauce is one of our family favorites! It takes a little effort and is best to prep in advance. Then dinner time rolls around and I boil noodles and voila, the meal is done! And who doesn’t love perfectly roasted broccoli?!


Wednesday we made a quick chickpea curry. I flavored the chickpeas and vegetables with Garam Masala and salt and pepper, mixed together a quick sauce with coconut milk and red curry paste and cooked rice in our microwave rice cooker. The girls ate everything but the chickpeas and our Little Man ate only the chickpeas.


We had a mess of a day on Thursday. I was so indecisive! I promised E we would go to gymnastics open gym but then got a text from a friend welcoming us over to play. I promised E we would have Chick Fil A for lunch instead but then by the time we were heading home the babies were both asleep in the car. Instead we waited until Alex was home from work and enjoyed dinner out! It was such a treat and I exclaimed we should do this more often! Chick Fil A for the win!


Finally Friday! The happiest day of the week. I made an old favorite, White Bean and Roasted Mushroom Soup. Eleanor only drank the broth and gobbled down the cornbread. The babies sort of just picked at everything. Alex and I were happy though!


Is there anything better than skillet cornbread?


By Saturday we still had more cauliflower sauce and I boiled another bag of noodles and heated frozen green beans. We also had a package of Aidell’s Italian Chicken Sausage and it was amazing! I love this sausage so much!


We literally ate the kitchen this week. By Sunday morning we were scrapping together oatmeal for breakfast with little fixin’s. I was so happy to pick up our Walmart order after church. The meals you see here were shopped for at Publix while Eleanor was at Awanas last week. I spent $200! To be fair we didn’t go to the store at all through the week but that is still our most expensive shop in a very long time. It was a relief to see my Walmart order cost just over $100 this week to balance it out!

Anybody else willing Fall to show up by cooking all the casseroles and soups? At least football is now on! Have a great week all!

Important contributions food bloggers made to the world

Once upon a very long time ago I was a food blogger. This came up just the other day when my dad called to tell me he liked my new blog but wondered where all the recipes were. I laughed it off with a “if you need a recipe for baking a sweet potato or smashing together ground beef and grilling it and calling it a hamburger then I’ll start writing them up, otherwise…”

It has been a long time since I created recipes or even felt adventurous in the kitchen. However, this conversation made me remember when I first discovered blogging and how it opened my mind to a world of food possibilities. Who knew bananas could make ice cream or pumpkin spice everything was a thing?


Here I have compiled a list of important contributions food bloggers have made to the world in my opinion. Where a recipe or idea is listed I have linked to the first site that taught me. Let me know in the comments other important contributions you can think of and feel free to call me out if you don’t agree that these were food blogger contributions!


1. Banana Ice Cream (Nicecream, Banana Soft Serve, Yonanans, etc.): I can remember first finding this recipe and being blown away! Who knew frozen bananas could become such an amazing treat? Of course I had to start here with this one because I can’t think of a more important food discovery in my own life. I believe I first found this idea on The Full Helping back when it was Choosing Raw, which also appears to be the top Google search. I know so many other food bloggers, including myself, have written about this idea too. Where did you first learn about Banana Ice Cream?


2. The Green Monster Smoothie: I’m not sure we will ever know who first decided to put spinach or kale in their smoothie but I’m certain the greens intake in our nation has increased dramatically since that day. I found the idea first on Oh She Glows. I think it is safe to say the green smoothie is a most important contribution to our world!


3. Pumpkin Spice Everything: I can’t remember a pumpkin spice craze before the food bloggers of the world first did it. At least no one was talking about their pumpkin spice obsessions before the internet gave us endless space and time to discuss such topics. Nevertheless the obsession is here and most likely sticking around for a dozen or so more decades. I mean August is hardly flipped on the calendar before everyone is talking about a PSL and UGG boots. I for one am on the wagon. I love pumpkin spice!


4. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip: once my girlfriends and I discovered this treat we could hardly get enough. We convince ourselves it’s healthy but the chocolate chip to chickpea ratio in mine is starting to become a little off balance. Also, eating a whole batch on your own in one sitting is hardly healthy. I first discovered this treat on Chocolate Covered Katie but my good friend Brittany has also written about it and even did a segment on our local news for “dessert hummus.”


5. Hangry: Did you ever hear this word before food blogging existed? I’m pretty sure the first time I heard the term was on Hungry Hungry Hippie way back in 2009 or 2010! It has been an important part of my vocabulary ever since and has come right alongside a cultural shift of food obsessive Americans.


6. Overnight Oats (aka the best thing ever!): Alex is still weary of cold oats but this is my very favorite breakfast. Curse you Whole 30 for making me think oats are bad because most of this summer passed without enough Overnight Oats in my life. My first introduction to Overnight Oats was through Oh She Glows. Kath Eats has also helped popularize this recipe and taught me to put it in an almost empty peanut butter jar for eating.  And in case you are like me and into Pumpkin Spice everything, here is my old recipe for Pumpkin Overnight Oats on the ole’ blog. And now that I’m reminded it will certainly be on the meal plan for next week!


7. Food Photography: sure the magazines were doing this first. But in the age of social media and blogs food photography is now a widely accepted career and pastime. Ten years ago it would have been odd to snap a photo of your dinner and now I take a photo every single night for my Meal Plan Monday posts. What a very strange world we live in! From the most talented photographers to the most amateur (moi!) everyone is getting in on food photography!

I’m sure there are so many more food blogger trends to mention but these are the ones that stick out to me as the most important. I don’t think it would be an overstatement to claim that the blogging world has helped to shape the eating habits and trends in our world!

Thursday Thoughts

Who doesn’t love a good alliteration. Am I right?

What are you guys up to today?

I felt so guilty for not punching out a blog post yesterday. But then I reminded myself that this is not my job and to forget about it. Still, I don’t love slacking on my obligation. I have a pretty good excuse though.

Three kids is no joke y’all! We are keeping a little boy for the week while his foster family is away for an unexpected trip. He is about Ruthie’s age so basically I have twins for the week. Only when it’s not your own it is harder to know everything they are thinking. So basically I feel like I’m just playing guess all day. Still we are all happy and enjoying the extra company this week, but man it is hard! Most notably getting in and out of the car.

I assume most moms of three have two that can walk, but having two kinda walkers who need a ton of help to the car can be complicated. Let’s just say I have perfected the baby on each hip hold.

Additionally this week all of our activities have started back up. Bible study is in full swing and with that comes homework. Eleanor started Awana’s and that too has homework. I am absolutely loving both of these activities for Eleanor. She is memorizing scripture and talking about Jesus. We are having so many conversations at home too! Basically it is all we talk about. Eleanor also started In His Steps, a Christian dance program for girls and Sunday School started again this week. Just a few weeks ago I was worried we didn’t have enough going on for the fall and now I am certain we don’t need anymore activities!

I have also been making a bigger commitment to working out starting this week. I was slack for the last few weeks of summer. And while the weather hasn’t quite changed yet, I’m hoping some cooler temps will help encourage me to get out there even more.

Consequently I am sleeping much better at night. At first I thought it was simply the relief of having my bed back after our camping trip. Now I believe it’s the combination of putting in a hard day each and every day. By the time the girls are in bed at night I collapse ready to put my feet up. At the end of the day it feels like I have given it my all. And it feels good!

This week we also squeezed in a hair cut for Eleanor. This is her very first hair cut and while she was a bit nervous she ended up loving the experience! Her hair looks so healthy and pretty now!

And with that, I hear Little Man stirring in the other room ready to be up from his nap. I’m just praising God he slept today. Naps have been hit or miss while he adjusts to our home. I’m hoping to be here tomorrow but I’m not going to put any pressure on it! Have a great weekend if I don’t make it back before then!


Carolina Beach Camping Weekend


I’m struggling to begin this post because I’m afraid to leave out a single detail. I’m also having trouble narrowing my hundreds of photos from the trip. Indulge me as I know I will fail to keep this short and sweet.

It took exactly four hours for us to drive to Carolina Beach State Park on Friday afternoon. Alex left work early. There was no traffic. We were sure to drive the speed limit the entire way to avoid any potential tickets. And just before 5pm we arrived to our campsite.

Check in was a breeze. We drove by our site first and then on to the marina. I love that this state park has a little store where you can purchase firewood, ice and many other camping and boating essentials. Carolina Beach State Park is situated right on the banks of the Cape Fear River and has so much to offer. We didn’t take advantage of this park to its fullest since we were so busy on the beach the entire weekend, but we are already looking forward to another trip in the future!

While the campsites were close to one another, they still offered a good deal of shade and my social toddlers didn’t seem to mind at all that there were other kids and people to meet nearby. We quickly set up camp and jumped back in the car. We were anxious to see the ocean before the day ended.


We only planned to walk out and take a look before finding dinner in town but Eleanor was anxious to get her toes in the water.


This is only Ruthie’s second time to the beach. She was just four months old when I took her to Florida to visit family. She was unsure of the waves and crashing sound when we first arrived but quickly warmed up to all the fun the sand and water offered.


While we could have stayed for hours, it was already 7pm and we still needed to find dinner. We rushed the girls off the beach promising hours of fun the next day.


Dinner was disappointing. We were hangry, and therefore in a hurry. We started to walk around a bit and then tried Yelp. We ended up in front of one of the top rated seafood restaurants in Carolina Beach, The Shuckin’ Shack, but it was so crowded and only offered high tops for seating and we had no idea if the girls would be happy with anything on the menu so in the heat of the moment we jumped next door and settled in at a booth at The Dive. The name should have given it away. Our expectations should have been lowered. This place wouldn’t have been so bad…if we were without kids and it was about 4 hours later. I’m sure it is a great place for night life. Somehow we ended up with a table full of fried foods and they were all disappointing. The one promising dish, fish and chips, were the worst of it all. I don’t want to just give this place a bad review, I’m sure it is a fine place for a different purpose, but we were really craving a quick but fun seafood meal on the coast and this did not deliver.

Back at the campsite we made up for it with s’mores.


Saturday was beach day. We woke up and ate a breakfast of overnight oats and iced coffee. By 9am the car was packed and we were headed for the beach. We found public parking less than a block away and paid $8 for the daily rate. We loaded our double stroller with all the beach necessities and found a great spot to play on the beach. It was quiet with only a handful of other families already out. The weather was incredibly warm for the early morning and we were happy to jump right into the refreshing waves.


We brought a small pool from home and Alex and I took turns blowing it up and filling with buckets of water. The girls had a blast splashing in the water in the pool until they grew comfortable enough to really splash in the waves.


This may go down as one of the best beach days in history. The girls absolutely loved the sand. They played happily for hours.


Every so often Alex and I would scoop up their sandy bodies and whisk them out into the water to rinse and cool off. It took both of them a few tries to enjoy being out in the ocean. Finally they were laughing and splashing as we jumped the waves together.


Back on the sand Eleanor focused on making “cakes” and we all took turns shaping mermaid tails for each other.


Probably the scariest/funniest moment was when Eleanor, laying on her belly in the water, began being pulled backwards by a wave. Alex was right behind her and so easily scooped her up but while that chaos was happening, another wave pulled the entire pool out into the water with Ruthie inside! I went clamoring to save her and the pool as Alex was saving Eleanor. In the end we all had a good laugh but I was so thankful we were watching the girls diligently and able to pull them right up!


We played right past lunchtime and into the afternoon. The girls hardly seemed to notice except when Alex bought an icee from a beach vendor and they ran to him excitedly. I didn’t expect to play so long. I thought we would all be bored after an hour or two which led to my worst decision of the day, I forgot to put sunscreen on myself. By 2pm my skin was crispy. When we finally left the beach we walked around the boardwalk and the town of Carolina Beach for about another hour which didn’t help!


We stopped and had ice cream before finally heading back to camp for lunch. I had packed leftovers from last week and we devoured burritos made from the skillet taco filling.


Ruthie had an amazing nap in the tent. Eleanor and I took a shower. And we all relaxed at the campsite for the afternoon.


Saturday night we headed back to the beach so I could capture a few photos of the girls in their Eleanor Rose Sailboats. Since I bought these outfits early this summer I have been dying to get the girls to the beach in them. I may or may not have planned the entire weekend around this one photograph:


I tried not annoy them with too many photos, instead I just let them run and have fun while I snapped a few fun pictures.



We talked an unsuspecting stranger into taking a family shot of us:


After our little photo shoot on the beach we walked around once again trying to find a place we could pop in and enjoy a quick seafood snack and a beer and we really didn’t see anything that appealed to us. I’d love to know if anyone has a great recommendation for Carolina Beach. I really should have done my homework and researched in advance. Instead we took just a few more photos and headed back to camp to build our fire and cook dinner.


We used our pie iron to make grilled peanut butter and jellies for dinner. Eleanor invited our neighbors over for s’mores and we all stayed up late into the night getting to know one another. Eleanor fell asleep in Alex’s arms and finally around 11pm we called it a night.

Sunday morning the girls decided to sleep-in. I snuck out of the tent around 7am and squeezed in a 4 mile run along the trails at Carolina Beach State Park. I took the Sugarloaf trail around and enjoyed beautiful views of the river, the dunes and the marsh. The girls and Alex woke up just before I arrived back at camp and we had another breakfast of overnight oats, cold coffee and cereal.

We originally planned another beach day but Alex and I were both sunburned. We discussed driving to the aquarium at Fort Fisher but ultimately decided to relax at camp and then pack up and head home.


It was a quick trip but full of family fun. It was a ton of work (packing, setting up camp, taking toddlers to the beach, clean up, etc) but Alex and I both agreed it was so incredibly relaxing too. The girls both napped on the way home, although Eleanor claims she didn’t. We arrived home, grabbed a pizza and settled in just in time to watch the second half of the Chicago Bears losing to Houston (boo!) and also in time for Eleanor to attend her first session of Awanas!

I was so unsure about camping at the beach before this trip. I didn’t know if all the sand and dirt would be just too much. After this trip I am convinced it is the way to go. We had such a blast and will hopefully be back again!


Meal Plan Monday- a short week

Y’all just tell me if you are tired of hearing me talk about burgers, pizza and tacos. I’m trying to mix it up in the kitchen, but life you know? Here’s last week’s meal plan.

Saturday- BBQ with friends

Sunday- Burgers and Pasta salad

Monday-Cauliflower Pizza

Tuesday- Chili

Wednesday- Zucchini Tuna Cakes with Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday- Skillet Tacos

Friday- Camping

I managed to do our grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s again this week so for the BBQ on Saturday I brought along a sampling of our favorite snacks from TJs.


Goat cheese, plantain chips, greek yogurt spinach artichoke dip and sriracha hummus.

On Sunday we basically repeated Saturday’s dinner by grilling burgers and mixing up a quick pasta salad. I used Trader Joe’s gluten free pasta and mixed in feta, olives, artichoke hearts, cucumbers, tomato and a Greek dressing. It was delicious and so easy!


Monday was another pan of Daily Garnish’s Cauliflower Pizza. My girls actually don’t love this meal but Alex and I do so we keep making it in hopes they will change their minds.


I put Chili on our meal plan because the temperatures seemed to dip a little last week. However, by the time I got around to making it we were back to 90 degrees and higher. Nevertheless, on Tuesday we all devoured our Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili. We are ready for fall and football season!


I made a new-to-me recipe of Zucchini Tuna Cakes on Wednesday. Another meal that Alex and I gobbled up but the girls hardly touched. At least the sweet potato fries went over well.


Our final meal of the week was another Skillet Taco dish. I included all of the food in our fridge to use up before our weekend trip including ground beef, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and salsa. We wrapped our taco filling in soft tortillas and topped with guacamole and finally we had a meal that the girls couldn’t get enough of!


And that brings us to the weekend. I’ll be back tomorrow with some of our beach and camping adventures. But in case you are wondering, I spent way too much money on grocery shopping this week. Our Trader Joe’s haul amounted to $178 and I popped into Publix once for oats, raisins and almond milk for another $20 purchase. I blame it on the holiday weekend and snacks for our camping trip.

Must haves for camping with toddlers

We are off on our camping trip and I am crossing my fingers I didn’t forget a thing. This is a real concern because once Alex and I took Eleanor camping when she was little and basically forgot everything except the baby. We arrived only to discover we had no sleeping bags or blankets, camp chairs, or pillows. It would have been a very uncomfortable night except we found a Kmart close by and grabbed the essentials. So to help you and me when packing for the next camping trip, here is our must haves list.


Before I dive right in, let me explain how we camp. It is called “car camping” around here, meaning we drive our car right up to the campsite and unload. We don’t camp where hiking-in is necessary because let’s be honest, with toddlers we need a ton of stuff.

We also need a quick getaway plan. We once packed up camp in the middle of the night, woke the camp host to unlock the gate, and drove home because Eleanor would not stop screaming. Camping with toddlers isn’t always easy, but as with most advice I give, lower your expectations, be prepared for anything and always willing to change plans at a moment’s notice.

We prefer to camp at state parks. Generally we can book in advance, check out the sites and campground online, and we are guaranteed usable bathrooms and showers.

Camping must haves


Kelty child carrier//pie iron//Kelty tent//towels//knives//bug spray//Pack n’ Play//foil//camp chairs//shampoo//sunscreen//food trays//air mattress//rain jacket//hiking shoes//kids camp chair

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The first thing we pack in the car is the tent. A small one works just fine for our family of four. We have had the same Kelty Tent (similar) since before Alex and I were married and have never felt the need to buy a larger one. While it can get cramped with a Pack n’ Play, we don’t spend much time in the tent apart from sleeping. Speaking of Pack n’ Plays, we just got a new-to-us one that is the Travel Lite version. It is so much smaller and we are hoping to have so much more room in the tent. Eleanor will sleep with Alex and me. We use an air mattress. I just couldn’t camp if I wasn’t guaranteed some sleep. Sleep is too precious as a parent and that makes the air mattress necessary. We also use real pillows and blankets, see previous statement if you need an explanation.


We used to love getting creative over the campfire. But just like in the kitchen at home, our camp meals are quick and easy now that we have toddlers. If it’s not cooked in foil or in the pie iron then it isn’t going to be made. Our favorites are grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly’s using the pie iron.

We also love Hobo Stew cooked in foil packets in the coals. Occasionally we will bring bagels and toast using s’more skewers. For dessert we stick to s’mores but banana boats have also been a favorite in the past but are just too messy with toddlers. We love our hanging high chair (similar) that makes outdoor eating a breeze for babies.


In addition to cooked food we also pack a ton of grab and go food. This is the one time that our kids get to snack as much as they want. Cereal, trail mix, plantain chips, baby carrots, apple slices, and grapes are all easy snacks to have ready. For meals we will eat sandwiches, cereal and almond milk or hard-boiled eggs packed from home. This time I also made coffee and chilled in the fridge for iced coffees in the morning.

We always pack reusable knives, silverware and plates. There is something about camping outdoors that makes you want to reduce, reuse and recycle. For plates we actually use old Panera trays (those black ones your food used to come on). We have these amazing and fun knives that come with a cover and just cheap forks and spoons. I pack a small container of dish soap, cloth napkins that we reuse and a few kitchen towels for clean up. Also important to mention here a fire starter and long lighter. And a corkscrew. No explanation needed.


This trip we will be camping close to town and planning to spend a ton of time at the beach so we aren’t packing as much food as usual. We plan to eat lunches out and maybe even one dinner.

Hiking Gear

What is a camping trip without hiking? Actually, this current camping trip probably won’t have a lot of hiking at all. Still I am packing my favorite Vasque Hiking Shoes, our trusty Kelty Pathfinder Child Carrier, and a CamelBak for water.


Clothes and Toiletries

This may be the one place I am not a minimalist. I pack for every possible scenario. I have running clothes, jeans, shorts, swim suits, jackets, rain jackets, hoodies, sweats, tank tops, flip flops, hats and more. This trip is a little different since we are hitting the beach as well. While showering is always optional while camping, I like being clean. We always pack shampoo and a towel and I always pack these cleansing cloths to wash my face instead of soap and bug spray and sunscreen are also essential. I also typically pack a roll of toilet paper and disinfecting wipes for all the “just in cases.”


Activities and Toys

We don’t pack a lot in this category. A book each and usually we let the girls pick out one or two toys like a baby or ball. We packed crayons and one coloring book this time because Eleanor colors so much right now and it entertains her for hours. We pull the Pack n’ Play out of the tent during the day and let the girls sit in there and play if they like.


We also just let them run around and get dirty and play with sticks. It’s really the one time in life when I try not to keep them from getting dirty.


This year we also bought the girls their own camp chairs and I think they are going to get a ton of use and I will already bet that Ruthie will fall out of her’s a dozen times. I’m sure they will be a hit though. And of course we are packing our own chairs too.

I can guarantee I’m leaving out at least one or two important items (like a first aid kit). Our car is always so full, packing for a weekend trip often looks like we are moving away. While I try to keep things simple, I also want to be prepared for everything.

Do you enjoy camping? What are your must haves?