Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cool vacation locations for hot summer days

Going to the beach for vacation is cool…..but you can have a cool vacation by heading the opposite direction! 

You don’t always need air conditioning to stay cool.  Believe it or not if you head up to the mountains this summer you will find it far cooler than in the valley.  Of course, there has to be some cool features at these cool spots!

They say there is always a cool breeze along the coast, but after spending many vacations in the Beauford, SC area in rentals on or very close to the water, that just isn’t so!  Now move that South Carolina vacation up into the hills in the northwestern part of the state and things will be different.  The mountains will be cooler and you can still enjoy yourself and find some water activities at a lake or river. 

The TN/NC border, a real cool place!

We have visited the Smoky Mountains many times as we lived in that area for several years.  I remember the first fall we went to check out the color and it was warm in the car in October, until we got closer to the top of the mountain – the temperature dropped considerably.  So if you want to vacation in a beautiful spot and still be cool, take your camper to one of the many campgrounds in a National Park and enjoy the beauty and the weather.

Cool river water at a cool vacation spot in Blue Ridge, GA

Other cool places to vacation would include:  Blue Ridge, Blairsville or Helen, Georgia.  Not only are there fun things to do and fantastic places to shop and dine, it will be a few degrees cooler.  

Even the dog got cooled off in a lake near Bryson City, NC

We are going to be heading to Maggie Valley, NC this summer and I noticed that several of the rentals only have window A/C units.  I asked about that since I’m so into the cool comforts of a good HVAC system!  I was told it is so much cooler there that window A/C units are the only thing you need.  Since I like to be cool I opted for a rental that provides more than window units!  But I guess that shows that it is cooler in the mountains, but I’ll find out for myself soon.

There are other cool places in North Carolina such as Asheville, and the surrounding area, which isn’t all that far from Maggie Valley.  If you want to limit your vacations to cool places (temperature-wise and fun-wise) head to the mountains!

One example of a cool restaurant is Christy Lee's Courtyard Grille in Blue Ridge, GA.  Try the Prime Rib, you won't be disappointed!  We have eaten there many times and wish we lived closer!

A real cool place to dine!

For more information check out these links:

Photos belong to AbbyG

Monday, June 20, 2016

Try thrift shops for bargains and unique vacation souvenirs

Thrift shops and travel can go together like a hand and a glove. People are beginning to shop in thrift stores to look for unique souvenirs and inexpensive items when they are on vacation

My daughter and I have been scoping these stores out as we prepare for her wedding and all important honeymoon. Talk about some cool finds! We picked up a Lorton China frame, a silver plated tray by Gorham and a very special souvenir. It's in the video below.

I would be glad to tote any of these finds home from a getaway, vacation or honeymoon. How about you?

Shopping at thrift shops on vacation is a good way to pick up things you need but couldn't fit in the suitcase. Are you going from a warm climate to a cool one? Pick up a couple of long sleeve t-shirts, wash them and donate them back.when you leave.

I was a few thousand miles from home when I pulled out my camping gear and realized that my cookware was back home. A thrift shop hooked me up with a $2.50 saucepan that still travels with us. Then I noticed some souvenir mugs in the corner, and well, you know how it goes. 😃

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Swiss chard – one of the ‘other’ greens!

Many of you are familiar with what are referred to as ‘greens’ in the south:  kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens. There are probably a few others I’m not sure of.  Don’t forget, I’m a Yankee transplant living in the south so ‘greens’ to me always meant various types of lettuce!

However, one of the greens I’ll be talking about today is not necessarily a southern green, as it was introduced to me by my husband.  He grew up in New Jersey and ate a lot of Swiss chard…his mother introduced him to it.  I was always a spinach lover, but since chowing down on Swiss chard I like it much better.

Two feet long tip to bottom!

As you can see from the photos the leaves are huge, spinach doesn’t get leaves that big.  From the top of the leaf to the bottom of the steam most are measuring 2 feet and the leaves are about 10 inches wide. 

Did I mention big leaves?

In the above photo the leaf is on a 10-inch dinner plate and you can hardly see it!  I will chalk the size of the chard up to our raised bed that is full of mushroom mulch (not dirt).  Last year we planted 18 plants and we couldn’t eat it or give it away fast enough.  This year we cut back to 9 plants and we are still giving some to the neighbors.

Big pot of chard cooking on my stove right now!

My preferred cooking method:  I wash the chard in a big pan of cold water; make sure the bugs are off!!  I cut the stems into 2-3 inch pieces and put them in a big pan of boiling water.  Once the stems are getting soft I add the leaves.  They take up a lot of room at first, but they cook down.  Stuff as many leaves in the pot as you can.  Turn the flame to medium-low and let it slow cook.  I serve it with lots of butter, salt and pepper. 

Swiss chard is very good for you.  It is extremely low in fat and calories (until you add that butter!).  It is loaded with antioxidants.  This colorful veggie is loaded with all kinds of good things for you.  Check it out by clicking this link.

If you don’t like it boiled, you can Google recipes and try it different ways.  I recently sautéed it and it was a little more time consuming to prepare, but worth the effort!  If you live nearby stop in and I’ll give you some fresh chard from our garden!

Photo taken today, June 15, 2016

Photos belong to AbbyG