Thursday, December 11, 2014

My Top 10 Family-Friendly Restaurants in The Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast Area




1.  LuLu’s (http://www.lulubuffett.com/)  Gulf Shores, Alabama

Great for families’ of small children.  The area surrounding the restaurant is a kid’s paradise.   Lots of activities, a full sand playground, a climbing ropes course, gift shops, and right on the Intracoastal Waterways for watching boat traffic, live music for the adults.

2.  The Original Oyster House (http://www.originaloysterhouse.com/)  Gulf Shores, Alabama

This was my children’s favorite place when they were younger.  The children’s menu is price reasonably with free kid’s meals at some locations and with coupons at visitor’s centers.  The boardwalk surrounding the Oyster House has many store venues, a playground, places to take memorable pictures, and alligators to feed (sometimes) but fish to feed all of the time.  It is within walking distance to all the shopping centers, one being the Shark place (http://www.souvenircity-gs.com/) as my kids call it.  Great place for pictures.

3.  The Hangout (http://www.thehangout.com/)  Gulf Shores, Alabama

This is for the older family members, teens will like being on the public beach.  Still the smaller kids have many playing areas, seating outside for parents to watch, three outdoor music venues that usually begin at dusk.  It hosts one of the largest music fest during May with thousands of attendees.

4.  The Crab Trap in Period Key, Florida (http://www.crabtrapdestin.com/the-crab-trap-perdido-key.html)

Right on the beach, a large playground and area for kids, lots of specials, nice setting.

5.  Lillian’s Pan Pizza in Perdido Key, Florida (https://locu.com/places/lillians-pan-pizza-pensacola-us/#menu)

Not a playground available, but some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.  If you’ve had all the seafood you can stand, this is a nice alternative and they deliver.

6.  Villaggio Grille in Orange Beach ( http://www.villaggiogrille.com/page3.html)

This is a more upscale restaurant but has outdoor seating at The Wharf (http://www.alwharf.com/) which is a marina, amphitheater, and outdoor shopping mall, (http://www.alwharf.com/shopping-dining/directory.php), full of things to do.  It even has a ferris wheel, (https://www.alwharf.com/ferris-wheel.php).

7.  Tacky Jacks has three locations, (http://www.tackyjacks.com/).  Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, and Orange Beach, Alabama.

All three are casual and on the water featuring a wrap around deck for a panoramic view on every side.  Food is very kid friendly and there is a playgrounds at the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach location.

8.  Felix’s Fish Camp Grill in Spanish Fort, Alabama on the Causeway, (http://felixsfishcamp.com/)

Great food, awesome views of Mobile Bay, perfect end to a tour of the USS Alabama, (http://www.ussalabama.com/).

9.  Cobalt’s in Orange Beach, Alabama, (http://www.cobaltrestaurant.net/)

Underneath the Perdido Bridge it is nestled on peninsula where most of the Alabama coastal boating take place.  Beautiful outdoor patio setting, live music, plenty of space and sights for children.  Surrounded by the Perdido bay and the gulf, it’s a perfect place for lunch or dinner.

10.  Peg Leg Pete’s in Pensacola Beach, Florida (http://peglegpetes.com/)

The name itself is enough to stir up a kid’s imagination. Pensacola Beach, (http://www.visitpensacolabeach.com/) is packed with things to do.  It is one of the top 25 beaches in the US.


What are your top 10?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Never Waste a Beautiful Day ~ Thanksgiving Weekend on Fort Morgan


After wrapping up all the Thanksgiving cooking and Black Friday shopping, a day of relaxation was needed!  My husband, Bryan, and I drove out to one of our favorite spots to walk the empty and peaceful shoreline along Fort Morgan. 

Bryan, Fort Morgan Beach, Alabama
 It's a hidden treasure that's off the beaten path, no condos and only a handful of homes.  The treasures; shells, driftwood, washed up items of every sort, are basically untouched and footprints along the white sand are few. 

Miles of Shorline
 I love it here.  
We walk picking up the treasures that capture our attention, sit and listen to the waves, watch the birds and crabs, and breathe in the freshness of salt air.  

Driftwood among the Sea Oats
My body and mind slows from the hectic pace and I remember the reasons of why we wanted to move here so badly.  The Beauty around us is refreshing, it restores our energy and eases the tensions of busy schedules.  It's the best kind of therapy and it's free!

Tiny Tracks left behind
We look at the animal and bird tracks left behind and try to imagine what was there, a beaver, a coyote, a hermit crab, hungry seagulls?  The tiny and medium prints left behind tell a story as do ours.  Sometimes side by side, other times apart as we are distracted and wander interested in some type of object, or they disappear where we've journeyed toward the surf and into the waves.

Jellyfish washed ashore
Life is like that only we don't notice the tracks we're leaving behind.  They are mostly invisible but some shine like the sun.  Those moments when we took time to be kind to others, did an unselfish act, gave encouragement to a hurting person.  Every single day we have a choice about what type of tracks we leave behind.

Our footprints
I've decided to live each day as a beautiful day, savoring the beauty around me and making sure I make someone else's day beautiful as well.  It's not easy, it's hard.  It's hard to be unselfish, to take second place, to keep your mouth shut unless something good's coming out, to be humble and grateful and peaceful, it's hard work.

Red flip flops
But I believe it's worth it like finding all the treasures we find on our beach walks.  To some, our treasures probably look like trash, but what a wonderful thing to find beauty in something ordinary. Something washed and rolled in the turbulence of sand and drowned in the depths of the sea only to turn up on the white sand, smooth and polished.

Lots of ship-wreckage washes ashore here
That's us.  We are tossed and turned in the storms of life, but those same chaotic times are the moments where we are changed from ordinary to beautiful treasures.

Part of a boat washed ashore
Embrace your trials and troubles and know that these are the BEAUTIFUL DAYS not to be wasted.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Best Thanksgiving Books and Crafts for Children




Thanksgiving brings thoughts of turkey, black Friday deals, and family time.  What have you planned for your children or grandchildren?  Spending time making memories will be more important ten years from now than what you bought at a 75% off sale. 

 Where to begin?

1.  Make some paper plate pilgrims and Indians.

(Items needed: paper plates, feathers, construction paper, markers or crayons, glue, scissors.)

Photo Credit: Jason Lander (Creative Commons)

2.  Make some hand turkeys.

(Items needed: construction paper, makers, pencil, glue and glitter.)

3.  Make a Thankful journal.

(Items needed:  scrapbooking paper, images printed from computer or from magazines, scissors, glue.)

For small children, glueing pictures of what they are thankful for will do.  For older children, letting them write a sentence or two will be a valuable keepsake one day.

Cut 8x10 pages in half, 3 will be plenty.  Fold the pieces in half and staple them in the middle to create a small book.

If you want to have a more fancy book, follow the instructions here.

4.  Have lots of books to read on Thanksgiving.  Nothing better than snuggling up on a couch in front of the fireplace, (if you have one), and reading with the kiddos.

Here are a few lists of Thanksgiving books for children.

Amazon Best Sellers Children's books for Thanksgiving, click here.
Goodreads Best Children's books for Thanksgiving, click here.
Barnes & Nobel's Fun Thanksgiving books for children, click here.
Reading Rockets' Thanksgiving books for children, click here.
Scholastics' Thanksgiving recommendations, click here.
SheKnows 12 Best Thanksgiving books for kids, click here.
Christianbook.com Kid's Thanksgiving books, click here.
Apples 4 the Teacher Kid's Thanksgiving books, click here.

What's your all time favorite Thanksgiving book for children?