Thursday, December 8, 2011

Telling Ryan

I've had several people ask me how I told Ryan that we are expecting a baby, so I thought I would share the story with you today.

I was just over 4 weeks along the morning that I found out I was pregnant. Ryan was already at the library studying for his Pathology midterm. After staring at the test for a couple minutes and then crying for the next couple hours, I began to think about how I would tell Ryan.

While we were home this past summer, I bought a little gift to bring down with me in case the opportunity presented itself. And this was the perfect opportunity. Ryan actually came home for lunch a few hours later, and I managed to act normal and not say anything. I wanted to make the moment special. So once he was back at the library, I set to work baking him a chocolate cake and making one of his favorite meals - cinnamon apple pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheese, and maple-glazed bacon. And I placed a little package on his pillow.

When he came home for dinner, he immediately saw the gift and asked what it was. I told him it was a "just because" gift. He tore off the blue wrapping paper and was left holding a tiny pair of baby scrubs. He looked at them for a couple seconds, rather confused, and said, "This is a just because gift?" I replied, "Yes, just because we're pregnant!" He asked if I was serious, and I assured him I was. It took a few minutes for the news to sink in, but we couldn't be more excited!

Speaking of the new daddy, he has now finished his fourth term of medical school. We'll be flying back to Greenville on Monday and spending a few weeks with our families for Christmas. One more term in Grenada (January - May) and then we'll move home for the summer while he studies for and takes the USMLE (US Medical Licensing Exam). We look forward to keeping you all updated on our adventures!

Monday, November 28, 2011


We've been quite busy these past few weeks with two Thanksgiving dinners, a soccer championship, a kickball championship, and getting ready to fly home in a couple weeks. But those posts can wait for another day or so, because I have even bigger news . . .

We're expecting a baby!!! I am due on June 28, and I'm almost 10 weeks along. Ryan and I could not be more excited. And we're especially thankful to the Lord for arranging the timing of this baby so perfectly. We will leave Grenada on May 16. And we will move to New Jersey around the middle of August. So we have a good six weeks on either side of the due date, which means, Lord-willing, that the birth won't interfere with either move!

I have been feeling terrific, with no nausea, morning sickness, or fatigue. Once in a while, the smell (or thought) of certain foods doesn't sound appealing, but I've been able to eat just about everything so far. I haven't had any cravings, although I've heard they can still come. We are so grateful for such an easy beginning to this pregnancy.

The University has a clinic on campus, less than a minute walk from our room. I was able to see the doctor this past Friday, asked for an ultrasound, and scheduled one for later the same day.

One benefit to being pregnant in Grenada is the cost of healthcare - the appointment and ultrasound were $32 total! It was truly amazing to see our tiny baby moving around and kicking its little arms and legs. My favorite part was hearing the strong heartbeat. The baby is measuring right where it should be, and everything looks great so far.

We would appreciate your prayers for a healthy pregnancy over the next seven months!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Sale!!

If you are looking to get some early Christmas shopping out of the way, then stop by my shop (Marigold Lane) and see what's on sale! Everything currently in stock is 20% off. Once an item is sold, it is removed from the website, so all items shown are still available. Leave a comment or send me an email if you see something you like!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fall is in the Air

Well, technically, fall doesn't come anywhere near Grenada. It's still hot and sunny here. But at least the aromas of fall have been wafting through our apartment in recent days. As much as I love living on a tropical island, I do miss this time of year back home where the air is crisp, I can pull out my favorite sweaters from the attic, and drink a cup of coffee outisde without breaking a sweat. But I found a few ways to incorporate this beautiful season into our lives by way of some delicious new recipes.

Just last week I came across a recipe for Spiced Mango Chocolate Chip Muffins. Since a sweet family at church had given us a bag of fresh mangoes, and I had all the other ingredients on hand, I decided to give them a try. You could also make these muffins in a loaf pan like you would banana or zucchini bread. The spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger) gave the muffins a distinctly autumnal flavor. Ryan may or may not have eaten three in one sitting.

Our second fall recipe actually took a couple tries to get it right. A couple weeks ago I made a roasted pumpkin quiche with caramelized onions and sage, based on this recipe.


I used gorgonzola as the recipe suggested, however, we found that the flavor of the cheese overpowered the other, more delicate flavors. So I made it again the other night using just some simple mild cheddar that I had in the fridge. The result was night and day. The only other change I made to the recipe was making a regular pie crust instead of using phyllo dough. A pound of fresh pumpkin is only $1.15 in the grocery store, and the remaining ingredients are things you likely already have, making this recipe very inexpensive. The levels of flavor acheived from roasting the pumpkin and caramelizing the onions give this dish a gourmet look and taste. This is definitely a new favorite in our family.

What fall recipes does your family enjoy making around this time of year?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

I'm finally back online after a rather long blogging absence! About a month ago, my computer decided it didn't want to work anymore. After some research and discussion, we decided to not try fixing it or buying a new part while we're down here in Grenada. So Ryan and I have been sharing his laptop for the past few weeks. Which really means that I get to check my email at 12:30am when he gets back from the library and I'm already falling asleep. But this past week, my friend, Beth, was home visiting her family in the States and offered to bring back an extra laptop with her! I just got everything up and running last night, and I look forward to getting you caught up on our lives, and reading all your wonderful blogs as well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Updates and Guest Post

**If you would like to read an overview of our life down here in Grenada, head over here to my friend, Betsy's blog. She is currently on vacation and asked me to do a guest post for her Travel Series. While you're there, be sure to look around at the adorable felt headbands and clips that she makes. I'm sure you'll be able to find the perfect fall accessory from her collection!

For the first time in many months, Ryan and I enjoyed a somewhat normal weekend together. He had his first round of midterms last week, so he was free to enjoy himself until 8:00 this morning. I loved having him around for a few days, and he was able to get caught up on some rest and recharge before classes start again. He is currently in one of the most challenging terms of medical school, but is doing very well so far and actually enjoying the material.

We began our weekend on Friday evening by going out for pizza and ice cream with our friends, followed by playing games in their room. The next morning, we had a communication seminar that all new Resident Assistants are required to attend. However, we were the only ones who actually showed up, so they had to postpone the meeting. We spent the rest of the day watching college football - the perfect way to spend a fall afternoon (if only it felt like fall down here). Last night, we combined all of our weekend activities into one evening and ate dinner with friends while watching Sunday Night Football and playing a game. As much as we would like this to be a weekly routine, Ryan will diligently spend every free minute in the library from now until his next test.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Last night, I found this recipe for homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies. I happened to mention them to Ryan, and he was very interested in trying them (or me trying to make them so he could eat them). The store-bought variety was never my snack of choice when I was growing up. I can't remember eating them more than once or twice. In fact, I was on the phone with my sisters while the cookies were baking, and they said, "Are those the things that come in those packages? Yeah, they always made my stomach hurt." So even if the packaged cookies aren't your favorite, you still need to try making them yourself. You won't believe how good they really are!

The cookies have 3 cups of oats in them, which makes them healthy, right? You could add raisins or chocolate chips to the cookies, but I didn't have either, so ours are plain. The filling called for mascarpone cheese. Now I can't say that I've ever looked for mascarpone at the IGA down here, but even if by some miracle they had it in stock, I can't imagine how expensive it would be, considering I can't even bring myself to pay for it back at home. So I substituted a little more cream cheese, added a splash of milk and vanilla, and it was perfect. Ryan didn't even notice that it should have been made with mascarpone.

Now I know that when I say I baked cookies, that probably evokes a mental picture of neatly spaced cookies on a cookie sheet in an oven. So I thought I should probably give you an idea of what my baking actually is like. For starters, I don't have a nice large oven. But I am so thankful for our toaster oven as it has provided much variety to my cooking this past year. I usually buy a disposable aluminum 13x9 for most of my baking, and I reuse it until it falls apart. The grocery store has not had those in stock for a couple weeks now. For most other dishes (baking chicken or roasting vegetables), I can use my glass casserole dish. But I didn't think that would work too well for baking cookies. So I found a couple aluminum pie plates that I have been saving. I cut the sides off and used the bottoms as my cookie sheets. I could only fit 4 cookies on a plate, but at least I could fit both plates in the oven at once! It took a little while to get all 40 cookies baked, but at least the toaster oven is basically in my bedroom. I can sit on the bed, talk to my family, watch football, and keep an eye on the cookies all at the same time. Living in a small place does have its advantages!

The cookies are currently sitting in my refrigerator, individually wrapped in plastic since I didn't have a container large enough to store them. This also makes it very easy for Ryan to grab one (or two) on his way to the library. I think it's time for me to make a cup of coffee and try one myself.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Baby Hat Giveaway!

I'm so excited to tell you all about my very first giveaway! My lovely friend, Tara at Dandy Giveaway, is featuring this brand new baby hat from my shop.

You can enter to win by visiting her site here and following the instructions. The giveaway will be open for the next two weeks, and you can get up to 7 entries. Good luck everyone!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Something New

As you know, I love cooking and trying new recipes. While my current living situation is not always conducive to culinary experiments, I do enjoy creating new dishes from time to time.

My inspiration this past week came from my new favorite website, Pinterest. It deserves its own blog post, but if you're not familiar with Pinterest, it's an amazing collection of recipes, decorating ideas, party inspiration, DIY tips, crafting tutorials, and so much more. You can "pin" images to your own boards and view others' boards as well. But more on that later. One afternoon, I discovered a recipe for baked zucchini with a sweet onion dipping sauce. Amazingly, I had just bought a zucchini at the store a few days earlier, and had everything else for the recipe on hand. Caramelizing the onions was the longest part, and I didn't have quite a whole onion, so I guessed at the amounts for the remaining ingredients. The zucchini sticks definitely get soft if you don't eat them right out of the even, but it was a delicious recipe, none the less. And as much as I love zucchini that's been breaded and fried, I might like it baked even more. (Bonus: It's healthier that way, too!) And a lovely dipping sauce doesn't hurt either.

Dinner that night also included seasoned, roasted potatoes and a roast cooked in the crock pot with a few things I had on hand - beef broth, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and an onion soup mix packet. Did I tell you that I have a crock pot now? I bought it from my friend, Vanessa, at the end of last term. It has been a lifesaver for meals that require more than one thing to be cooked in the oven. I can put the meat in the crock pot during the day, and everything is still finished at the same time.

On Saturday, I was finally able to try a recipe that I found a few weeks ago for goat cheese and apple tarts. Goat cheese is usually common in the grocery store and is fresh from Belmont Estates here in Grenada. Apples, however, are quite expensive, and I had to make a second grocery run this past week since they were all out on my normal shopping day. A bought 3 Gala apples for about $6 total. It was definitely a splurge, but sometimes you just get tired of eating the same few things over and over. Plus, I had a fantastic new recipe to try! The tarts were extremely easy to prepare. Once you peel and slice the apples, the tarts are in the oven within minutes. I didn't have any thyme, so I substituted a little dried rosemary and added a sprinkle of cinnamon on each tart. The flaky pastry combined with the creamy, tart goat cheese and sweet apples was amazing. This would be a fantastic appetizer or served at a party as you can make quite a few tarts very quickly. We ate ours with an omelet, maple syrup-glazed bacon, and a cup of coffee for dinner.

It's always good to try new foods, new cooking techniques and broaden your horizons. You never know what new favorite thing you'll discover next. Tonight, I'm going to attempt to make rice pudding for the first time! Have you tried any new recipes recently?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Homemade Thai Food

I don't think you can enjoy more tropical flavors than mango and coconut. And since I've had a seemingly endless supply of mangoes these past few weeks, I decided to look up some new recipes where I could use these delicious fruits in a new way.

One of the first things I found was a recipe for a mango custard. The instructions called for unflavored gelatin, but I could only find a package of custard powder at the grocery store. I combined a few recipes and improvised to come up with tonight's dessert.

I pureed about 4 mangos with a dash of sugar. Then whisked together 1/4 cup coconut milk and a couple Tablespoons of the custard powder. Blend that with the mango puree for a few seconds. Bring 3/4 cup coconut milk to a boil, then combine in the blender with previous ingredients. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Just about as easy as making pudding from a box! And the possibilities are endless.

So now that I had the most important part of a meal complete, I had to find something to cook for the main course. Since I already had coconut milk, I decided to try a Thai coconut curry chicken dish.

I browned some chopped chicken breasts that had sat in the fridge for about 30 minutes mixed with ground ginger, curry powder, garlic, and salt. Next, I added chopped scallions and onions, a Tablespoon of tomato paste, and a cup of coconut milk. I let everything simmer for about 5 minutes. And in about 15 minutes (of cooking time), dinner was ready! I served the chicken with brown rice and steamed edamame (which I know is more a part of Japanese cuisine than Thai, but we love edamame, and I couldn't pass them up in the store this past week).

After a filling and flavorful dinner, the smooth and creamy mango custard was the perfect dessert. And the best part is, I have enough leftovers for another complete meal this week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Myrtle Beach Vacation

Now that I am (mostly) caught up on blogging about recent events in our life, I can finally post about the second half of our beach trips from this past summer.

This vacation was in honor of my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. So my entire extended family stayed in one large, 12-bedroom house at Myrtle Beach for the week to celebrate. At one point there were 26 of us all there together! The house was right on the water, and we took full advantage of that fact.

Taken from the back porch of the house:

On the Friday morning of our Edisto Beach trip, Ryan and I drove back to Greenville. That evening, we attended his 10 year high school reunion in Anderson, SC. It was great to meet several of his classmates and reconnect with friends we haven't seen for a while.

Back at home, we unpacked our suitcases, washed a couple loads of laundry, and repacked our bags. We drove down to Myrtle Beach early on Saturday morning with my sisters. We were the first ones to arrive, but only had to wait a few minutes before my grandparents arrived with the key. It took us quite awhile to unload the cars, and during that time, more family arrived. Grandma made beans and hot dogs for dinner that night, and we enjoyed a relaxing evening of just catching up with each other.

My dad is the second of four boys, and all but the oldest brother live in SC. We were especially excited that all the Massachusetts' Reimers were able to join us, as we have not all been together since our wedding more than three years ago.

My sister, Rachel, took excellent pictures of the family one evening. Here are just a few:

My parents (in the green shirts), aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Aren't they a good-looking group?

All the Reimers' cousins. Christina (in the orange dress next to me) is pregnant here! We all found out a few weeks later.

And my immediate family (minus Rachel's fiance, Kyle, who had to be back at school that week):

During the week, my mom and aunts each took turns cooking the meals, and the food was absolutely incredible! The entire week was such a special time of being together, hearing about how the Lord has led in each family throughout the years, and praising the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness to us.

We all spent almost every day at the beach. The weather was perfect, and we had the best time in the water, playing soccer, and building an amazing sandcastle. The cousins just couldn't get enough of each other! Here is Ryan with my two youngest cousins next to our sandcastle:

One evening, we all went miniature golfing together. The next day was a little overcast. So Dad, Ryan, Uncle Jay, and Jason went golfing, and Uncle Steve took most of the rest of us cousins to the arcade across the street and back to the miniature golf course. By the afternoon, the sun was back out, so of course, we spent the rest of the day at the beach.

Evenings were spent playing games, eating snacks, and watching movies. I wish we had more candid photos from the week, but we were all too busy having fun to take pictures! It was one of the best weeks we've ever had, and I hope it's not too long before we are able to do it again.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our First Hash

During our time here in Grenada, I have heard of several friends going on hashes. From what I understood, it was basically a walk (or run) through various parts of the country on a Saturday with maybe 100 other people. Our friends, Beth and Tanner, have been on a couple of hashes, so this past Saturday, Ryan and I decided to join them. We piled onto one of the school's buses with around 45 other students and drove about half an hour north to the mountainous little town of St. Paul.

There was already a large crowd assembled when we arrived, so we signed our names on the clipboards and listened to our instructions. There was a runners trail which they said was a little longer and more strenuous, and a walker's trail that included a few good climbs but was mostly paved. Ryan chose the runner's trail, and I, of course, opted for the walker's trail. Paved roads sounded like my kind of hiking!

The walkers left first, so away we went. The trail is marked by piles of shredded paper. We followed the trail up a paved road into the mountains. About 15 minutes into our walk, the pavement stopped and we were on a gravel path. The scenery was beautiful, and there was a cooling breeze. Next we came to a field and continued walking through the grass. Before too long, we came to a wooded area and were greeted with a muddy trail over rocks, rusted water pipes, creeks, and ditches. I kept thinking this part was only going to last a few minutes. After all, they did say that the walker's trail was mostly paved, right? I lost track of time as I was concentrating on not sliding down the steep parts or grabbing onto to a prickly branch on the side of the path.

Before too long, I gave up trying to keep my shoes clean. I had mud half way up my legs, covering my hands, and smudged onto my face from wiping away the sweat. The breeze had ended long ago. I ignored the dozens of small scratches on my arms and kept walking. The hike itself was either straight up or straight down (it seemed) for the rest of the time. No more level, paved roads for us! At one point we came to a little village and thought we were at the end. But it was just a teaser, as the path led us right back into the woods for a final climb through even deeper mud towards the finish line.

An hour and a half after starting, we made it to the end (which is also the beginning point). I signed out on the clipboard, and waited just a couple minutes for Ryan to finish his trail. Fortunately we were all at the front of our respective trails, and made it back a lot sooner than most people. We found a spigot on the side of the road and waited in line to rinse off our legs. But not before getting a couple pictures of us covered in mud!

There is usually a big party at the end of a hash involving lots of beer, so we obviously weren't interested in staying for that. The four of us took a taxi back to town. We waited at one of the bus stops in the pouring rain for about 15 minutes before giving up on a bus coming. By this time the rain had stopped, and we walked the last mile back to campus. We stopped at one of the restaurants and picked up a couple of yummy wraps for dinner. While eating in Beth and Tanner's room, we put all our shoes into the washing machine. Amazingly, they all came out great! Usually we play games or stay up late talking with them, but we were all so tired that as soon as dinner was over, we went home and went to bed.

In talking to other people who have been on many hashes, this was not only the longest one they had been on, but also one of the most difficult. I guess if we survived this one, we should be able to do any of them!

I was curious as to the origination of the hash, so I looked up some information online this weekend. Come to find out, there are hash groups (called kennels) in 110 different countries! The hash was founded in 1938 by a few Brits living in Malaya. They wanted an energetic, physical activity, and one that allowed them to see the beautiful countryside as well. Every two years, several thousand people participate in an International Hash. In 2012, hashers will meet in Indonesia. From what I understand, the hash is also an excuse for people to get together and drink. In Grenada, the hashes all begin and end at a rum house. You can, however, participate in the actual hike without the drinking afterwards. The US has several hundred kennels, so if you have some free time and enjoy exploring new areas, look up the kennel closest to you. There are even a couple kennels in Antarctica. No mud and sweat there!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sea Glass

I have a new favorite activity here in Grenada - searching for sea glass! I'm not sure how I didn't even know this existed, but it's gorgeous, lots of fun to collect, and plentiful on Grand Anse Beach.

Yesterday, my friend Beth, and I spent a couple hours walking along the beach, collecting sea glass. There is a small section of the beach where the glass is plentiful, and we spent most of our time there. My collection consists mostly of green and clear glass, two of the most common colors. (Red, pink, purple, and black are some of the rarest colors to find.) I came home with a good amount (about half a Cool Whip container), but Beth's was almost full! And she has two similarly-sized containers back at home. She said I'll get better at finding sea glass the more I'm out there. This is definitely something I wouldn't mind praciticing.

Sea glass is formed from shards of glass that have been smoothed out by the waves and sand. The longer it is in the water, the more rounded the edges become. And the once-shiny glass turns into a beautiful frosted, muted color. Here is some of the sea glass I collected yesterday:

I have found so many ideas for turning sea glass into beautifully-crafted items. Most of the projects will have to wait until I can get home. But I see necklaces, earrings, candles in glass jars filled with sea glass, and mosaic-tile trays in my future!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Getting Busy!

I have quite a bit of updating to do since I have been absent from this blog for so long. Somehow the past 6 weeks have already come and gone. Ryan took his final exam for third term yesterday morning. Which means he starts fourth term on Tuesday. And then he'll start fifth term in January, and then we'll be flying home in May! But that's still a few months away. And to keep us occupied in the mean time, I have plenty to do with our new role as Resident Assistants.

Yesterday, I sat through a 4-hour orientation meeting while Ryan took his exam. We learned all kinds of exciting things - like the fact that students should not break the lock on their door with a hammer just because their key doesn't seem to work. Yes, that has happened in the past. After our meeting, they had sandwiches and cookies for us. Somehow, Ryan made it in time for that part.

When we arrived back at our room, we were greeted with 60 bales of toilet paper (48 rolls per bale) that had been delivered that morning and stacked in our kitchen. The previous RA's told us we should order about 60 bales at the beginning of each semester, but my friend in the housing office said that was quite a bit more than we will need. Usually there are a few empty rooms in our building that can be used for storage. However, this semester there are over 800 new students living on campus, and every room is filled. So for the present, this is what our room looks like:

I've had about 5 students check in this morning, had two or three students stop by with questions, answered many phone calls, tracked down a missing key, and arranged for us to switch storage duty with another RA so Ryan doesn't have to miss church tomorrow. It's already 11:30, and I haven't had a chance to shower yet! This must be what it's like to have kids.

Ryan is completing his last research paper this weekend. He's looking forward to just studying and not writing anymore. But it's been a good experience, and to have several papers published while in medical school will look great on his resume.

Thank you for your continued prayers. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store for us this semester!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cozy Knit Sweaters

I know that warm wool sweaters are probably the last thing on anyone's mind right now. Apparently a heat wave is sweeping across the east coast. The temperature down here is about 85 degrees everyday. And the air conditioning works quite well in our room, so I typically try to stay warm in a hoodie and sweatpants. So knitting a couple sweaters made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

There are two patterns in particular that I've been anxious to try. And while visiting our friends in PA this summer, I found a beautiful red wool on sale at Michael's. This little cardigan used just a little more than one ball of yarn. So naturally, I will be making a little hat and shoes to complete the outfit.

One of my favorite prints is a classic argyle. So I was thrilled to find a pattern for this baby sweater vest. The only challenging part was keeping all the colors untangled, but the vest is knit in one piece so it was a very quick project. I used the same red wool from the previous sweater in the argyle pattern and a soft khaki as the accent color.

While I was home a few weeks ago, I bought a light-weight gray cardigan on clearance. It had the front half of a tank top built in. But, I wanted the sweater to be more versatile, so I cut out the tank top and decided to save the fabric. I'm in love with fabric flowers right now, and try to come up with any excuse to make them. I found some light gray yarn in my small stash, knit a little headband out of that, and added a flower from my recycled fabric.

You can stay updated on the latest additions to my shop by searching for Marigold Lane on Facebook or visiting the website.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fresh Mango Salsa

This past Sunday at church, someone gave us a bag of fresh mangoes from their yard. Ryan loves to just eat a plain mango. But I think it's too much work to cut up the mango only to eat it a couple seconds later. So I decided to make a fresh mango salsa instead.

Salsa, especially if it is made with fruit, is one of my favorite things to make. It requires no cooking or exact measuring - just a lot of chopping. I really should make them more often now that I think about it. My sister makes a killer peach salsa, and I made a fruit salsa with strawberries and kiwis (served with cinnamon tortilla crisps) for a party a few years ago. But that's the extent of my salsa-making experience.

When Ryan and I were at the grocery store this afternoon, I was fortunate enough to find all the ingredients for the mango salsa, all grown here in Grenada. Back at home I got to work chopping the red onion, red bell pepper, and fresh cilantro. Then it was time to tackle the mangoes. I think they were a little too ripe because they were far more mushy than firm. But I salvaged as much as I could while managing to get mango juice on every inch of the counter.

After a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a dash of salt and pepper, I put the salsa in the refrigerator until dinner. I plan to use it with chicken breasts tonight, and hopefully we'll have enough left over for chips and salsa tomorrow. I will definitely be searching the internet for more salsa recipes to try over the next few months!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Edisto Beach Vacation

This afternoon, I spent a couple hours lounging and reading by the pool. As nice as it was to have a quiet, sunny afternoon to myself, it reminded me of the summer beach trips we took with our families last month. And that made me miss our families.

So, while I'm thinking of it, here is a little recap of the first trip we took to Edisto Beach (south of Charleston) with Ryan's family.

This vacation spot is especially meaningful because Mom Hudson spent many summers there as a child. A few more houses are on the island now, but not too much else has changed. Edisto is a quiet, relaxed island with all the charm of a small southern town. We buy fresh fish, fruits, and vegetables for a local farmer almost every day, and you'll see more bikes than cars on the roads. The Hudsons rent a house for a week each summer, and this was my third time to be there with them. The back of the house overlooks a little pond, which you can see in the background here. Once in a while we'll even see an alligator in the pond.

On our first morning there, Ryan and I went for a bike ride with Dad Hudson before heading back to the house for a delicious brunch. The bike rides were definitely a necessity throughout the week as we enjoyed many incredible meals. We spent that first afternoon relaxing on the beach and catching up on each other's lives from the past few months.

Speaking of meals (again), I discovered a new favorite recipe that week. On Tuesday evening, my brother-in-law, John, cooked a delicious dinner of mahi mahi for us. And one of the side items was broiled pineapple. I love fresh pineapple, and this recipe is absolutely heavenly! Simply cut a fresh pineapple into strips and brush each piece with a mixture of coconut milk, cinnamon, and a little sugar. You could do this a few hours before cooking, but we just let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Broil the pineapple in the oven until they are browned, then top with chopped fresh mint.

One of my favorite parts about vacationing in Edisto is spending a day in Charleston. We drove up there on Wednesday, and had a wonderful time walking around that beautiful city. I love looking at all the different shops in the market.

And of course, the streets are lined with picturesque restaurants, shops, and houses.

We had an early dinner at Hyman's - a delicious seafood restaurant in Charleston. Our favorite dish of the meal was the shrimp and grits, made with a creamy alfredo sauce. It's a good thing we had more walking to do after dinner!

On Thursday morning, we planned to take a boat ride to Otter Island and look for shells. So Wednesday night, my brother-in-law, Andrew, and I packed a picnic lunch of homemade pimento cheese sandwiches to take with us. We had the beach to ourselves that morning, and we enjoyed a beautiful walk and lunch by the water.

The week came to an end much too quickly, as we had to leave on Friday morning to make it home for Ryan's 10-year high school reunion that night. But we're so thankful for the relaxing, beautiful vacation we enjoyed as a family.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July

Yesterday, we celebrated our second 4th of July out of the country. And since Independence Day was not on a weekend, it was business as usual for Ryan. He had class from 8-12, lab from 1-2, and worked on his research papers until 11:00pm. Since that didn't leave much time for celebrating, I decided to make a typical 4th of July meal for our dinner. Ryan asked for hot dogs, and I happened to find some turkey franks that were cheaper than the beef hot dogs. They were delicious, low in fat, and I don't think Ryan knows they weren't beef. Baked beans, deviled eggs, and potato salad rounded out our American meal.

One of my favorite things about July 4th is watching the Boston Pops concert and fireworks display. I've watched it on TV almost every year for as long as I can remember. Ryan told me that in two years (when we're living in NJ) we can go to Boston for the 4th and see them live. I'm already counting down the days! But for this year, I enjoyed eating apple pie and watching the incredible show from our tropical paradise.

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