Archive | June, 2012

OBX: a recap

29 Jun

So as made evident in my last post, vacation is officially over. It was our first real “vacation” in about 2 years (I know, I know… terrible!). We rented a house in Southern Shores area in Outer Banks, NC. What an amazing place! Here’s my recap of favorite spots and not-to-miss activities if you’re planning a trip there any time soon:

Southern ShoresThis is a residential-only area of the Outer Banks, and it’s where we stayed in a souped up house with every amenity know to man. The major advantages are, it’s the first area you drive through when you cross the bridge onto OBX. Since all the vacation homes here have Saturday or Sunday check-ins/check-outs, traffic is pandemonium on the weekends in BOTH directions, on the one-lane-only road that gets you anywhere. Being in Southern Shores totally rocked from that perspective, because it took us 5 minutes to get to our house on Sunday check-in day as opposed to 1-2 hours more hours of driving to get a few miles up the road to Duck or Corolla. Another plus is, since it’s mainly residential, the beaches are much more mellow and private — because there’s no parking unless you live there. Which was really nice! The minus is, it’s pretty much just residential. You have to get in your car to go get ice cream (our house was close enough to actually bike to an ice cream shop, but most of Southern Shores isn’t). Also, just this year, the Southern Shores Civic Association finally amended the rule to allow dogs on the beach during the summer before 9am and after 6pm. Previously it was one of the only beaches on OBX that wasn’t dog friendly during the summertime, so this was a really great change for us, since we had our black lab with us and she LOVES swimming in the ocean!

The Blue Point Bar and Grill (Duck): I’m a total foodie. And I certainly didn’t come to the Outer Banks expecting to have mind-blowing cuisine. I came thinking I’d be BBQing it up every night in the backyard. But Blue Point, oh, how you wooed me. With an interior reminiscent of an old Howard Johnson’s that had been whipped into chic, “Mad Men” shape, it was truly love at first sight. The views were breathtaking (ask for a window table) and the cocktails were perfection. I had a couple of Pimm’s Cups that truly tasted like summer on ice. Speaking of summer, we tried a special app which was described to us as “Summertime on a Plate.” It consisted of thinly sliced green tomatoes, beneath thinly sliced red tomatoes, and then dressed with the freshest lump crab meat, mashed avocado and garnished with cilantro, lemon juice, and freshly baked tortilla strips. Seriously?? Die. Oh, and we also ate the best crab cakes we’d ever had. I mean… Blue Point – I can’t stop thinking about our time together.

“Summertime on a Plate.” They ain’t kidding.

Awful Arthurs (Kill Devil Hills): So when a place specializes in oysters, yet calls themselves Awful, you can only assume they’re anything but. You’d have to be a total moron to be selling truly terrible bivalves and calling straight attention to it. SO. I was totally intrigued. This place did not disappoint. I’m talking a half peck of oysters for $19.99. Never would I be okay with eating 2 dozen oysters for under $20. I mean, really — raw seafood is not really an area you want to scrimp. But man, these oysters were kind of insane. So please, do yourself a favor and hit up Awful Arthurs. Coastal Living magazine named them one of the top 10 oyster bars in the country, for crying out loud!

Oh, it’s ON.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park (Nags Head): Pre-OBX, everybody I know who had been here to vacation told us we had to visit Jockey’s Ridge. And now I know why. They’re the tallest natural sand dunes in the Eastern US. And they’re insane. I felt like I was in the opening scene of Despicable Me — you know, when the tour bus crests the dune to the pyramids and knocks out the Arab guy with all the camels? Yeah. Except I was in North Carolina. Not Egypt. We  made the mistake of trekking from the parking lot to the trail and onto the dunes shlepping like 6 beach bags full of towels and crap we didn’t need. Because for some reason, we assumed that because there was sand, there would be a beach. There’s no beach. But the one thing we didn’t bring? Water. So now here we are, with my in-laws, my brother, and my 22 month old, and it’s like 106 degrees and the sand is like 160 degrees and we’ve been hiking like lunatics for 45 minutes and we’re gasping for air and shvitzing like pigs. Not smart. So go to Jockey’s Ridge. And leave everything at home, except for shoes (hot sand!) and water.

Surfing and parasailing down the sand dunes. You know, just a normal day.

Wild Horse Beach (Corolla): Have you ever driven your car on the beach? So, so cool. Like, it made me feel like I was in that scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the car is on the beach and then they just drive into the water and the car floats? Yeah, so… Acuras don’t float. But it was fun to splash that baby in the waves. It’s just a totally different vibe in this neck of OBX too. There are house rentals that can only be accessed by 4WD vehicles, which makes it feel totally secluded. I don’t know if it’s my kind of party in terms of vacation rentals. I like being able to nip out to the store and pick up wine when we run low, and this is a bittt more of an ordeal. But it’s fun to check it out, nonetheless.

“Near, far, in our motorcar oh what a happy time we’ll spend…”

Other notables:

The Shack Coffee Shop & Beer Garden (Corolla): really cute uber laid back barista owner chicks. Superb coffee. Ahhhmazing muffins.

Outer Banks Yoga & Pilates (Kitty Hawk): my class included a 10 minute shavasana. Enough said.

There’s my roundup! Have you been to the Outer Banks? Do you have any recommendations to add? Please share!

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Americans do it all wrong.

27 Jun

Vacation is over. As we pulled into our driveway on Sunday night — after a 9-hour drive from the Outer Banks — it hit me: American “vacations” are a sham. That’s right… this whole one-week holiday is a bunch of B.S. One week is hardly enough time to unwind from the intensity and obligation and responsibility of life, let alone actually enjoy the time and relax and de-stress.

In Europe, the standard for many is 5-6 weeks vacation. And often, employees take four of those in succession during the summer, so they can go on “holiday.” Meaning, they close up shop and just head off to Croatia, or the south of France, or Sydney, or to their villa in northern Italy, so they can live an alterna-life for long enough for it to count, spending loads of time with their families, hosting guests and boisterous dinner parties, riding bikes into town, reading novels (plural)… all the things we Americans don’t have time to do during our measly one-week away, because we’re trying to make the most of every minute; which inevitably means activity planning and organizing and  stressing when we’re supposed to be “off duty.” And while many of us get more than one-week vacation for the year, who among us could actually take 2+ weeks in a row away from our job duties and responsibilities without fear of everything falling apart, or our job being in jeopardy? Not this girl.

Certainly many would argue that as an American, with the freedoms and opportunities available to me, I shouldn’t be complaining. And I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. Except that I’m not one for living the status quo — I like to ruffle the feathers and spark the conversation.

This all comes at a time when my hubby and I are re-evaluating our life and where we live and trying to decide if it’s where we ultimately want to be. Overwhelmed by the stress and necessity of New York, and the strain this frenetically paced lifestyle puts on people… it just gives me pause. I don’t have solutions or answers. I just know I would love me some 4 weeks of uninterrupted “holiday!” Why is that concept so obscure to us Americans!? Aren’t we the same people who created the Real Housewives enterprise? Those crazies vacation all year round! (When they’re not paying someone to slap their name on a Pinot Grigio label or tacky pocketbook.)

How do you feel about all of this? Do you think we work too hard for too little? What would you do differently if you could be fully in control of your life and your destiny?

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

27 Jun

Yes. Yes there is.

We’re talkin’ poop. {Contest Alert!}

11 Jun

So I’m realizing the thing about boys is, even when their vocabulary is limited and they don’t make much sense, one thing is certain: they’ll always welcome a conversation about poop.

Every day, Jack mentions poop. He’s fascinated with it. He loves saying “poopy…. yucky….ew.” Which of course makes me happy that at least he finds it unappealing, and doesn’t want to play with it like some children do. It has taken some getting used to though; living in a house with 2 boys and a dog… they pretty much have poo on their minds ALL the time.

So it was quite apropos when Artie Bennett asked me to preview his new book Poopendous!. Of course I would! What could be better than an entire book about poo; one which didn’t revolve around the potential bodily issues that could cause each type and send you into a self-diagnosing panic. No, this promised to be a much more fun tale, woven through the global exploration of flung dung, tasty cowpies, and putrid pellets.

Jack loves the book. He loves the illustrations, and of course, above all else, loves that we’re talkin’ poop. And I love that we’re actually kind of learning something in the process. SO… I’d like to share the good times with you:

Post a comment here by midnight on June 25th and tell me what funny or embarrassing thing your kids love to talk about. TWO lucky readers will each win a personalized, autographed copy of Poopendous!

Good luck! And may the POO be with you!

***********************************************WINNER UPDATE!***********************************************

Congratulations to KRISTIN PEDICONE and ARIANNE who were chosen through RANDOM.ORG’s name selection generator! Please email me at ogradysarah@gmail.com with the following information: 

Your name

The name and age of the child you’d like the book autographed for

Your shipping address

And a BIG thank you to all who submitted their funny stories! I loved reading all of them… your kids are AWESOME!

Jack Won a Cuteness Contest!

8 Jun

A few months back, a friend sent me some Dolphin Organics bath products to try with Jack. Immediately, I was hooked. First of all, I love that they’re local. The company was started right here in Westchester, so I love that I’m supporting someone here at home. Plus,they’re organic, hypoallergenic, and all-natural. They’re pretty much the safest thing you can have in a bathtub with your kid – certainly more so than those rubber bath ducks, which are probably all made in China, and you know are just teeming with mildew and junk inside their cute little squeezy bodies.

Anyway, Jack has exzema on his arms and so I try to be as cautious as possible with the types of products I use on him. From birth, I’d been using Aveeno Kids, but just as I can’t stand only having one kind of shampoo or body soap in my shower, Jack should have options, too. So we’ve been using Dolphin Organics bubble bath and shampoo + body all-in-one for a while now, and I’m really happy with it, and I see an improvement in Jack’s skin. Win win!

So needless to say, I was SUPER excited when Dolphin Organics contacted me a couple of days ago to tell me that Jack had won their Bubbletastic Photo Contest! That’s right, my little man won a “how-cute-is-that-kid-in-the-bathtub” photo contest. I had forgotten I’d even entered him!

So this week, I’m prouder than a peacock! And now I’m feeling all sorts of pageant mom-ish. What if I just start entering him in these things, and we get all Toddlers in Tiaras on all of you? What do you think? Watch out, honey boo boo child!

Words of Wisdom Wednesday

6 Jun

I’ll drink to that.

Available at TRPrints on Etsy.

Random Thoughts.

2 Jun

1) Is bathing suit shopping EVER fun? No. I need to understand why bathing suit bottoms always nip in and pinch my skin and make me look muffin-top-y, but regular underwear does not. I think I will start wearing my underwear to the beach.

2) Speaking of the beach, did you know it now costs $12 a person to get onto it at Long Beach, NY for the DAY? Seriously. What a racket.

3) I’m feeling ‘meh’ about Westchester again. Quick, someone name 3 awesome things about living here.

4) Dieting is a cop-out. It means you couldn’t hack it as a foodie. I refuse to lose.

5) Twitter is starting to feel like a boring old advert. I used to feel so inspired! Now everyone I know has 14 Twitter accounts, and they just repost all their content on each, so I see the same things over and over again in my stream.

6) My favorite thing in the world today is the deliberate way my 22 month old says the word “gahbage.” I spent all morning looking for things to give him to throw in the trash, just so he could say it again. Yes, it’s Saturday, and yes, that’s how I spent my morning. Don’t judge.

7) So zombies? They’re real. And apparently, they’re starting in Miami. Sweet, I’m really glad my worst nightmare is coming true.

8) I asked hubby to get me a pastrami on rye sandwich for lunch. He did just that. I ate the sandwich. And then I was annoyed, because I felt really full afterward. So in my head, I blamed him. That’s normal, right?

9) My summer vacation is three weeks away. I’m already packed. Again… normal, right?

10) Bruce Willis? Bill Murray? Wes Anderson? Francis McDormand? Ed Norton? Tilda Swinton? Amazeballs.