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Beauty in South Carolina

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IMG_9646Meera, checking the crab trap. Feeling confident, strong, and brave. Not afraid to handle crabs.

A KyleKyle, in the beach house kitchen. Feeling adored, appreciated, and understood. Deep in thought, being heard.

IMG_9656Owen, heading out for ocean fishing. Feeling hopeful, capable, independent, and loved for his full whole self. Ready to catch the big one!


Photo of the Day: Owen’s Catch!

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IMG_9981Yesterday, off of Harbor Island beach, Owen caught a dogfish shark on his rod. He caught it using mullet fish as bait. He caught the mullet in his net cast. He also caught another dogfish shark after this. He was so proud of himself!


Food from the Beach House: Blanchards “Big Bowls”

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bb 4Longtime readers who pay attention to my food posts know how much I love the cookbook, At Blanchard’s Table: A Trip to the Beach Cookbook. Twice my parents have taken us, and my sister’s family, to Anguilla with them. And both times it’s been such a thrill for me to eat at the Blanchards restaurants. The first trip, Braydon and I had the treat of a night out just the two of us at Blanchards Restaurant. By our second trip, the Blanchards had opened their “Blanchards Beach Shack” restaurant, and we got to eat there for lunch on the beach… twice! (Thank you MorMor & MorFar!) These Blanchards restaurant experiences have been so memorable for me — these are the kind of restaurants and food concepts I love.

At Blanchards Beach Shack Kyle had what is listed on the menu as the “Big Bowl.” It is a pile of rice, beans, pico de gallo, corn salsa, cheese, etc. served, literally, in a big bowl. You can choose your protein to go on top — grilled shrimp, jerk chicken, shredded pork (there’s a whole list of options) — and it is served with a “crema” drizzled over it all. For Kyle it was love at first bite. He ordered it again the second time we went. I did not order it, but tasted his, and knew I’d try to perfect it at home. The crema seemed to be a mixture of sour cream, cilantro, and lime, and it was — in my opinion — what made the whole dish. I’ve since discovered an awesome dressing — that is a great substitute for Blanchards’ crema — sold in the produce section of our grocery store at home and in South Carolina: Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avacado Yogurt dressing. For a quick easy dinner that replicates Blanchards Big Bowl, this does the trick.

At the beach house we don’t have big bowls to serve this in. (We are lacking serving dishes and glassware in a big way here.) So, we have to pile it on plates. But this is a super fun, casual dinner where everyone can choose their own mixture of goodness and make it the way they like it. Super duper easy and yummy for a summertime supper.

P.S. The night these photos were taken we had the “Big Bowls” with thinly sliced grilled marinated steak. You can use whatever you like or have (or nothing! Kyle likes his best vegetarian.)


  • white rice
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained), 1/2 onion (chopped), 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • pico de gallo (store bought! …or… if you wanna make your own, go for it y’all!)
  • corn (at Blanchards they have a corn salsa, but I like to steam fresh corn on the cob then cut the corn kernels off just before serving)
  • shredded cheese — monterey jack, cheddar, or whatever you like
  • Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avacado Yogurt dressing
  • anything else you choose — shrimp, leftover blackened fish, grilled steak/pork/chicken, etc.


Cook the rice. For the beans– heat a saute pan over medium heat; add veggie oil and onion, stirring a few times and cooking until the onion is translucent; add a couple of spoonfuls of the pico de gallo to the pan and cook to just heat through; add black beans and cook until warm and combined. Steam fresh corn on the cob (10 minutes), then remove and let cool. Cut corn kernels off the cobs. If you’re using an additional protein, prepare that. To make the “big bowls”: place everything on the table and let people pile up their bowls/plates the way they like. Drizzle with the dressing. Yummo!IMG_9789big bowl 1 bb 2

Food from the Beach House: Coffee Cake

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DSC_0003This is an old recipe from my mom. She used to make it when I was little, and I always loved it. Now my littles love it. I make this year-round, but for some reason it tastes even better at the beach house! We’ve been making it about once a week; Owen will eat half of the whole cake in one sitting. It never lasts more than 24 hours before being entirely gone.

In looking online, sour cream coffee cakes like this one are often called “Vintage Coffee Cake” or “70s Style Coffee Cake.” The original recipe I have calls for including walnuts in the crumble layers. We’ve made it with walnuts and pecans (pecans = so Southern!). But, our favorite is to make it without any nuts at all. Also, the original recipe I have calls for blending the mixture in stages for over 20 minutes total. I have found that the cake is much lighter and fluffier (and takes way less time to make) if you simply blend to combine (mixing for less than a minute).


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt — I often use lowfat Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I’ve used light brown, or dark brown — either is good)


Preheat oven to 350. Blend together the sugar, butter, and eggs. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Blend until just combined. Add in the sour cream and vanilla and blend — again, until just combined. In small bowl mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar. Butter the inside of a loaf pan (I’ve made this with various shapes of loaf pan — it’s all good — use whatever you have). Pour half the batter into the pan. Sprinkle with half the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. Then pour the rest of the batter on top, and sprinkle the top with the rest of the cinnamon/brown sugar. Bake about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before digging in!

IMG_9708 IMG_9710 IMG_9714 IMG_9093 DSC_0006

Food from the Beach House: Pina Coladas!

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pina 1

The bambinos love pina coladas. Their pina-colada-loving has appeared many times on this blog. Click here for example. It is a special drink for vacations, or for special occasions, or for making occasions special. GREAT Drinks PoolReal pina coladas are so rich, you couldn’t drink more than one or two every once in a great while. But they are surprisingly easy to make. And time at the beach house is so special, that at least a couple times in July, an evening calls for coladas!

You can tweak these into lots of different flavors to suit your sweet tooth. Kyle is particularly fond of banana coladas (just replace the pineapple with a ripe fresh banana). Braydon and I love mango coladas (sub mango for the pineapple). Owen and Meera are purists and love the straight up pina coladas (“pina” = pineapple).

INREDIENTS (this makes 2 drinks):

  • 2/3 cup cream of coconut
  • 2 cups fresh pineapple (or whatever fruit you want to use: banana, mango, papaya, peach)
  • a dash or two of fresh lime juice
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • and if you want to make it the real deal: 3 ounces rum


Blend it in a blender. That’s all folks! IMG_9787 pina 3

Food from the Beach House: Blackened Fish, Two Ways (Fillets & Sandwiches!)

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fish 2We eat a lot of fish while we’re in South Carolina. I buy fresh mahi mahi and grouper right from the dock here, and it is incredibly delicious blackened.

I started making blackened fish sandwiches to use up leftovers from blackened fish fillet dinners. But at this point I think it is safe to say that Braydon and Owen both actually would chose the sandwiches over the dinner fillets any night of the 5The recipes can be found here: