Best Beaches for Families: St. George Island, Florida

As soon as school got out this year, we hit the road with with my sister and her family for Florida. We took the recommendation of a friend to give St. George Island a visit.

Beach view of St. George Island Gulf side beachIt did not disappoint. The island is low key, relaxed and friendly to families. The closest Wal-Mart is over 40 miles away and all the restaurants are local establishments. We rented a house towards the middle of the island in what the locals refer to as a “Skinny.”

Beach view of skinny houses on St. George IslandThe great things about these houses is the location. They are close to the middle of the island where everything meaning we could ride bikes everywhere. Golf carts are also allowed all over the island except in the Plantation area.

Boy riding his bike on SGI

riding bikes on sgi

Our house was conveniently located close to the lighthouse and playground.

view from the beach of the lighthouse

St. George Island LighthouseThe kids loved being able to see all around the island from atop of the lighthouse.

kids at the top of the lighthouseSee, you can see our skinny house.

view from lighthouseBut, let’s focus on the important things, the beach.

kids walking on the beachIf you do head to St. George Island, you want to be three or four house from public access points. This isn’t a big deal during the week, but if you are there over a weekend it will increase your traffic on the beach. The mornings make you almost think you are on a lake it is so placid and peaceful.

ocean in the morningWe would come down early and assume our position on the lounge chair we rented for the week.

rented loungers from SGI beach chairsAnd the fun would begin. Burying Boo in sand.

Boy buried in sand up to his neck

Burying CrewAnd playing in the sand.

little girl chewing on sand toy

girl walking on the beachWe even practiced our swimming stroke a little bit.

backstroke in the ocean

teaching how to swimBut by afternoon, the wind and surf picked up steam. It was time to chill out with few refreshments.

Yuengling beer on the beach

eating popsicles on the beachBut be careful, a few too many refreshments can lead to sunburn.

sunburned on the beach
And fly a few kites.
flying kites on SGIAnd by the evening the low tide makes for perfect Barbie doll beach time.

Playing with Barbies on the beachWhich meant it was time to eat. And the oysters are fresh on the island!! In the morning fishermen are out get the days supply.

Oyster fishing in the bayAnd in the evening it is pure heaven…Cheddar Gorges from Eddy Teachs covered in spinach, garlic, cheddar, bacon and jalapenos.

Cheddar Gorge OystersI mean look at that guy. Yum.

Cheddar Gorge Oyster close upEddy Teachs is a must go to raw bar when you are down in St. George Island.

Eddy Teachs signThe kids loved leaving their mark!

leaving your name at Eddie TeachsBut even if you don’t want to go out you don’t have to go without some peel and eat shrimp from one of the local trailers selling seafood.

Dail's Seafood Trailer

Peel and eat shrimp dipped in lemon butterBut honestly, the best thing about the vacation is that we got some time with family and time to just relax.

cousinsBe a little goofy…

posing on the beachWhat is your favorite beach vacation?

Where to go in Wine Country – Napa Recommendations


I have had several requests on where to go out in Napa and Sonoma Valley. Because I am the expert of course:) Let’s start with getting there.

Decanter of wine with bottles and vineyards in the backgroundWhere to fly to when going to Napa or Sonoma area?

You have a couple of choice on airports, but I want you to think about airlines first! Southwest still lets you have two free bags. One case of wine is less than 50 pounds. Coincidence? I think not. Fly Southwest people!!

Which means you can fly into San Fransisco or Sacramento. Do you want to also experience home of the sourdough?

Sourdough breadBut flying into Sacramento means easy access to In-N-Out and an agricultural tour as you head to Napa.

In n Out Burger restaurantHonestly, San Fran is closer to Sonoma and Sacremento Napa if it is all about time to get to the wine.

Where to stay in Napa or Sonoma?

Now, the first time I went out to wine country, we stayed really cheap in a Best Western over in Sonoma County. But the second time, we scored a great deal at the The Meritage Resort and Spa which sits in the hills of of Napa along its own vineyard. It has a great pool and hot tub along with fire pit for evenings back at the hotel when you are looking to stir up some fun with other wine lovers. But don’t take glass glasses down to the pool area…

I have heard rave reviews about the Yountville Inn north of Napa but haven’t stayed there personally. Someday. Someday.

Another option is to find the ideal bed and breakfast Inn on That is if you are into that kind of option. There is a gorgeous Farmhouse Inn over in Sonoma County.

What Wineries to Visit in Napa?

If you love Cabernet or Merlot, then Napa County is going to be your preference. But with more name recognition, more well known wineries, comes a bit more pretentious attitude in many of the wineries. You are going to pay for most of your tastings in Napa. However, many times you will get your tasting comped with the purchase of a certain dollar amount of wine or joining a wine club. The experience at the wineries will be fantastic with little cafes or sales of food in many of the wineries. I love Napa for all it’s touristy attractions.

I will admit one of my favorite wineries is one of the biggest tourist traps in Napa. V. Sattui.

V. Sattui WineryThe thing about Sattui is that you can only get their wine directly from them. You won’t find it at Costco or Sam’s Club. You won’t be able to source it from your liquor store. You must order direct.This is beautiful marketing for a sucker like me. I of course joined their club and get two bottles of red wine a month. That’s right and some months I meet the FedEx man in the drive way. The other thing that got me on my first visit was that one of the cutest family members was wine consultant and pulled a few bottles of his favorites for me to try.

Sattui family memberBut, honestly, as good as their wine is, I still dream about the food they serve out in their courtyard.

fresh mozzarella and sundried tomatoes

They make fresh mozzarella everyday.

Fresh Mozzarella Bar

Does anything else really matter? Well, in case it does, here are some other food options.

Sattui ood fired pizzaSattui BarbecueOK, now that I am done drooling over Sattui, let me make some other recommendations.

If you are not wanting to make appointments and have private tastings at set times, then here are some other recommendations.Friends Wine Tasting

  • Alpha Omega Winery – Their unoaked charonnay changed my attitudes toward white wines. Tastings Run around $25 and wine ranges from $45-100.
  • Sequoia Grove-This was a great, smaller winery. It had some great wines. The wines from Sequoia Grove can be found in Costco and stores which makes it great for buying as needed when you get back home.
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery-This is the Hollywood of Napa. This is Nicholas Cage’s family winery and has cinema history as part of the winery. You could spend the day here!
  • Darioush-The winery is owned by by an Iranian immigrant and offers wine with a Bordeaux style wines in a Persian atmosphere. It is a cool place to visit on the Silverado Trail.

What wineries to visit for private appointments in Napa:

I am sure everyone has there favorite winery in Napa. The first one they visited. The one where the proposed to their spouse. But, for me it is the one with the experience that was unbelievable. The wine was amazing. The winery is…


The wine is not cheap but we all need to celebrate with friends from now and then. And this is the bottle I plan on celebrating with next time.

A bottle of Celani Family Winery TenaciousYou literally sat on the back veranda of the estate home and tried bottles of wine their consultant brought out for you.

Celani Wines VerandaWe could have stayed all day. I highly recommend finding a winery to have a private tasting for the experience a small intimate winery has to offer.

couple at wineryMy first trip to Napa, we had a private tasting out at the Burgess Cellars.

Where to eat in Napa Valley?

If you are going to drink all day, you better start with a good breakfast. I would recommend you start at ABC, the Alexis Baking Company.

ABC Alexis Baking CompanyWe actually loved this place so much, we ate breakfast there twice during our last trip. They have everyday items plus specials on top of their regular items.

French Toast Brioche with fruit

Since breakfast will fill you up, snack at the wineries or be sure to eat at V. Sattui. Then for supper, I highly recommend that one night you eat on the wrap around porch at Auberge Bistro and Bar. The views are breathtaking.

Augerge Bistro ViewThis place has a great combination of small plates mixed with full meals. A little bit of everything for everyone!

Planning on hitting Sonoma County too? Be sure to watch for my Sonoma recommendations coming soon.




Did I shave my legs for this? Big Splash Groupon

Are you one of those people who checks out Groupon on a regular basis but don’t buy much or at least much that puts you out a lot of money? Yeah me too.

But when I saw the Groupon deal for the Big Splash Adventure in French Lick, IN I decided it was worth the risk of purchasing. What did we have to lose?

Since we cancelled spring break, we had promised the kids a stay in a hotel with an indoor water park. Well, it didn’t happen during spring break week so Easter weekend turned into a perfect time for a quick get away.

Might as well have a reason to shave my legs.

And a cheap one too. Thanks Groupon!

It was the perfect size for our kids.  They of course had differing ideas of what was fun.

They both loved the Lazy River.  Tubes were optional I guess though.

Boo loved hiding and jumping up to see if I was quick enough with the camera to catch a shot of him.

While the other one practically posed in the water for me.

They had some fun slides too. Especially if you have your dad sitting the back of the tube to help you pick up speed.

But not everyone in our family thought they needed to go down a slide that big or fast.

The great thing was that regardless of what they preferred, we were able to easily be within a few steps of both of them at the same time. The night stay, hours in the water park along with some snacks and arcade equals a great buy for $160.

Thanks Groupon!

Redneck Spring Break

What a difference a year makes! We had planned to be basking in the sun of Panama City Beach again this year. Because of my crazy travel to India and then DC for work, I couldn’t afford to be gone again. So, we canceled five days before we were to leave to have the redneck spring break instead.

two kids standing on a wagon with muddy feet in summer clothes.

Thanks to some unseasonable Indiana weather, my kids didn’t notice they were not at the beach. Especially when they put on their swimsuits and went to the sand cage!

girl buried up to her waste in sand.

We took our lap dog mudding.

muddy small lap dog

We even went over to Illinois to visit our cousins. Of course we took our classy attire on the road show…

But had a lot of fun none the less.

We got to meet the new baby in the family, too.

Not this baby. This baby became a big sister the week before spring break. We had to get our baby fix while we were in Illinois.

And then we squeezed the baby one last time and headed back to Indiana.

And spent more time in the sand.

Enjoying the random bon fire thanks to daddy burning brush around the fields as he was getting ready to plant soon.

And spending plenty of time being silly with each other.

What memories did you make on spring break?

Holiday Hangover

I love Christmas.

The decorations.

The music at church.

The lazy days.

The non-stop food.

The lack of schedule.

The new toys.

The reflecting on just how much we are blessed.

But, Christmas is over. It is time to move on. But, my tree is still up.

OK, both of them.

Who am I kidding? All my decorations are still up.

I just don’t want the images of the Christmas play to leave my memory.

Or the fun with family to end.

I thought a trip to Hawaii would motivate me when I got back home. After all some fun in the sun should do that.

All the beautiful sunsets…

And climbs up craters.

In the moonlight.

In order to watch the sun rise.

With one of your dear friends.

Or even a little parade through the rain forest looking for water falls should get you out of the

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And jumping into 60 degree water should wake up the soul.

And it did. But all good things must come to an end.

So, good bye Christmas tree. See you next Thanksgiving. I will miss you and the memories while you are gone.

Hunk of Meat Monday: Fremont Diner is dishin’ in Sonoma

Have you ever had a life changing breakfast? I recently did, and felt I had to share the incredible hunk of meat I had for breakfast at a random hole in the wall with you all. I feel as if my most recent trip to Napa and Sonoma  had big expectations for the wine, but I think the breakfast I had at the Fremont Diner in Sonoma will be one that I will dream about for years to come.

But, let’s start at the beginning. The Fremont Diner is a dive. You wouldn’t notice the little dump joint if you weren’t looking for it.

Luckily there is a big diner sign that gets your attention.

When you go it you are quickly drawn to the counter where you can watch the cooks working their magic.

But, on a cool summer morning, we were drawn to the picnic tables outside.

Besides the weather, the view wasn’t bad from our seats outside.

Of course after coffee was quickly ordered it was onto the choice of picking what to order for breakfast.

We were so excited to see some southern specialties on the menu. Can you tell I was drawn to the Chicken & Waffle. But, we couldn’t pass up a little something else.

Cheesy grits for the table. And boy did they not disappoint.

So, the next time you are in California and out in Napa or Sonoma be sure to stop by the Fremont Diner. You will not be disappointed.

What recipes are you sharing this week? Got any good breakfast goodies? Or lunch keepers? Link ‘em up and be sure to get some new ones from those linking up!

Hunk of Meat Mondays

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