Galveston Island Happenings

It’s a great time to visit Galveston. Yes, it’s technically in the middle of winter (what’s that?) and not officially beach season, but there’s a lot happening on the island!

Galveston Restaurant Week

It’s the last week of Galveston Restaurant Week – Jan 9- 23rd. Select restaurants around town put together a prix-fixe menu at price points between $10-$40. Along with the celebration of food comes the voting of a winning restaurant. You can vote for your favorite eatery to be crowned “Galveston Restaurant Week Restaurant of the Year!” #CelebrateDelicious

Here’s a list of places with the “Magical Affordable $10 Lunch” a great option to savor food at some of the best restaurants without breaking the bank.

  • The Gumbo Diner 3602 Seawall Blvd.,  (409)762-3232

  • Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar 2107 Postoffice St., (409)744-8626

  • Nick’s Kitchen & Beach Bar 3828 Seawall Blvd., (409)762-9625

  • Nonno Tony’s World Kitchen 2100 Harborside Dr., (409)621-5100

  • Rainforest Cafe 5310 Seawall Blvd., (409)744-6000

  • Riondo’s Ristorante 2328 Strand, (409)621-9595

  • Saltwater Grill 2017 Postoffice St., (409)762-3474

  • Shrimp ‘N Stuff Downtown 216 23rd St., (409)974-4609

  • Sky Bar Steak & Sushi 2102 Postoffice St., (409)621-4759

Vote for your favorite here! http://www.galveston.com/galvrw/

Mardi Gras

Galveston has one of the largest celebrations of Mardi Gras in the country. The festivities begin January 29 and run through February 9. Parades with floats, Golf car parade, concerts and even a 5K race provide something for everyone. For the full schedule and all the details go Galveston.com. I did notice that Cory Morrow will be headlining the entertainment on February 5th beginning at 10:30pm. We saw him play at Stubb’s in Austin last summer at a concert and had a great time!

It’s always a good time for Island Time on Galveston! Spring Break is around the corner!

It's always a good time for Island time! Mardi Gras, Restaurant Week, Spring Break....

Children of guests at beach

 

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1% to Conserve Galveston

Protect This Land!

We are so happy to be a partner with 1% To Conserve Galveston Island™.

“1% To Conserve Galveston Island™ funds land conservation projects on Galveston Island. These permanently protected lands helps preserve: our beach, bay and upland ecosystems; ocean and bay view sheds; wildlife and avian habitats; recreational access; and, clean water.” This is a program of Artist Boat, a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization.

Please support the program, and the Island, by shopping with local business partners in Galveston and saying yes to donating 1% of your purchase for conservation. For more information on the program and how to be involved see 1% To Conserve Galveston Island™.

1% to Conserve Galveston Island.

Girls Gathering at the Beach House – A Quick Guide

A few weeks ago I hosted a 2 day retreat for some girlfriends at Las Brisas in Galveston. We arrived at the beach house on a Sunday afternoon and didn’t get in the cars again until Tuesday morning. What luxury! For busy moms who seem to do life in cars, to have nearly 48 hours to relax, renew and connect was so needed. Here’s how we managed to make it work!

A Quick Guide to planning a girls getaway at the beach - including a DIY craft collage project!

Tip 1: Timing is everything!

We planned the getaway about 2 months in advance for an off season Sunday – Tuesday.  We left home on Sunday mid day – this got the Dads and kids through most of the weekend activities and returned by the time school got out Tuesday afternoon. While we were there, we talked, walked the beach, hung out at the beach club, share meals, did a fun craft project that helped remind us of who we are and walked the beach some more. We came away refreshed!

Tip 2: Bring two days worth of food

Our Menu:

Sunday Night – one sweet friend roasted a chicken Sunday morning, chopped the veg for a salad and brought a bowl full of quinoa and greens that assembled quickly. Dinner done!

Monday Morning – gluten free cinnamon rolls from my favorite local farmer’s market vendor, Sweet Texas; coffee.

Monday Lunch – ham and turkey sandwiches and leftover salad and chicken.

Monday Dinner – turkey burgers, vegetable sautee with zucchini, squash and mushrooms

Tuesday Morning – eggs scrambled with leftover veggies; coffee.

Grocery List: (I brought these things with me so we didn’t have to make a grocery store run) apples, bananas, creamer, eggs, lunch meat, cheese, condiments, ground turkey burgers, buns (for sandwiches and burgers), cinnamon rolls, foccacia bread, Seeds of Change brown rice/quinoa microwave pouch, mushrooms, farmer’s market zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes, assorted snacks and wine. My friend brought the roasted chicken and all the fixings for a super salad.

Tip 3 – Do Something Creative

We brought along poster board (1/2 sheet per person), glue sticks, scissors and a TON of magazines – mostly Coastal Living, National Geographic, Southern Living and Eating Well because that’s what I have. We set up at the kitchen table clipping out pictures and words that caught our attention. Everyone’s was different and was a great reflection of who they are and visions had of what they want in life. The photo below is of mine. Nothing fancy but meaningful for me. With a daughter off to college and another with one foot out the door, I’m wondering what’s next in my life. These pics helped me remember how important hospitality and connectedness is to me and to be open new ways to doing that.

A Quick Guide to planning a girls getaway at the beach - including a DIY craft collage project!

Tip 4 – The Housekeeper

I never ever clean the whole beach house when we stay. I do start the laundry but I hire my housekeeper to come in and do all the make ready for the next guests. If I had to clean, it wouldn’t be a getaway!

The Water Calls Us

This week, we take our oldest child to college. So I’m feeling a little emotional – nostalgic, scattered, happy, anxious, satisfied, excited and a host of other emotions that seem to flow intermingled throughout my days these past weeks. Many of our family trips have been to places with water (fresh or salt) – California, Massachusetts, Alabama, and of course Texas. As summer comes to a close and I look back over he past years of vacations, I’ll take you along memory lane with me.

Hotel del Coronado 2004 – My mom was dying and she wanted to see the ocean one last time. It was summer and the Gulf Coast was way too hot and she was really to frail to do too much moving around. The Del was the perfect spot – she could sit on the balcony and feel the ocean’s peace. Saltwater is good for the soul.

Hotel Del Coronado 2004

2005 Thanksgiving at Big Bend – the kids had never seen the mighty Rio Grande. Here are the girls at the Santa Elena Canyon

Girls at Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend

In 2004 we moved near Lake Travis and spent summers going down to a nearby park. This picture is from 2006. When the lake was low, the kids could pretend they were at the beach.

In 2007 we visited my uncle in Boston. We were joined up north by my sister’s family and several of our Italian cousins. My uncle rented a beach house in Hull for all of us. It was a constant party for days. The water was wicked cold, but that didn’t stop the kids from getting wet.

For a couple of years in a row, the girls and I had mother daughter camp weekends at Kamp Kickapoo with their girl scout troop and siblings. The river felt great on that hike. This is from 2007.

And as you can seem, most of our water adventures took place with friends. This is from summer 2007 on Lake Austin.

In 2008, in celebration of the kids finishing their time at a private school for kids with dyslexia, we took them to Maui. That black sand beach on the way to Hana was really an incredible site. The girls each brought home a spoonful of the black sand in a jar.

In 2009 we went to Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee – my husband’s old stomping ground. We went with dear friends and took the mother of all hikes along the river to the falls. Trail wasn’t marked but we made it. It was an adventure for sure. This photo was taken at one of the several small waterfalls in the park.

In 2010, my grandmother turned 100, so back to Boston we went for a delightful family reunion at my uncle’s beach house in Scituate. This beach house has remained one of our favorite places to go. So many memories and good times have been had there. It was the inspiration for us to purchase our own beach place. 

After 2010, many of our trips centered around going to the beach houses in Port Aransas and Galveston, combining business with pleasure. We’ve loved having the houses to take the girls, friends and family. They’ve provided us exactly what we had hoped for – places of joy and family memories. Sometimes it’s been a stretch and a challenge, but the moments we’ve created for the family have really been invaluable. We’ve loved hosting extended family Thanksgivings in Galveston for several years.

 

 

The next chapter will hold new things for all of us. Wherever life takes us, I know we’ll still gather by water, whether it’s at the Texas coast or elsewhere – it’s where we slowdown and share stories, laugh and renew. The water is where we are at home.

 

Vacation Meal Planning

Cocktail hour on the deck

Cocktail hour on the deck

We are headed to the coast for a few days next week. Every time I go to one of the beach houses I feel like I land at the grocery store trying to plan meals on the fly so that I don’t have to head back to the store the next day. I’m always shop from a list in my regular life, so not sure why I don’t do this for vacation! When at the houses we generally eat the same way – we always have waffles one morning and grill at least one or two nights for dinner. Sandwiches are always easy for lunches – everyone can make their own at their convenience. The menu is a bit heavy on meat options, so I’ll probably pick up some peanut butter and jelly as well as an extra salad an an alternative. Coffee and condiments are usually already stocked at the beach houses, so we’ll be set! Can’t wait! If you want to take the guesswork out of your own vacation meal planning, here’s a link to the menu. Beach meals for 4

Cookin' Out!

Cookin’ Out!

Meal Plan for 3 nights/4 days for 4 people

  Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Day 1 Traveling Traveling Out
Day 2 Waffles and scrambled eggs, berries Ham/turkey sandwiches, Fruit, sliced veg, chips Grill chicken, salad, watermelon
Day 3 Breakfast tacos (eggs, sausage, cheese) Leftovers, Ham/turkey sandwiches, fruit, sliced veg, chips Grill sausages, saute green beans, salad
Day 4 Breakfast tacos (eggs, sausage, cheese) Pack sandwiches to go Home

Snacks:

2 bags chips

Salsa

Fruit/veg variety

Drinks:

Bottle of wine

Sparkling water

2-gallon jug purified water

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Shopping list:

Fruit
Blueberries

Strawberries

Bananas

Watermelon

Veg

Salad blend X 3

Tomatoes

Cucumbers

Avocados

Baby carrots

Dry

Flour blend for waffles

Chips

Tortillas

Bread

Dairy

Milk/cream

Butter

18 eggs

Grated cheddar cheese Sliced cheese

Meat

Breakfast sausage

Smoked Sausages

Sandwich meat (1.5 lb)

Peanut Butter

Jelly

Giving Thanks

We had a great time at Las Brisas for a week over the Thanksgiving holiday. While we did the usual beach house maintenance of painting this and fixing that, we also had sufficient time for some R & R. One of my best moments was sitting on the main deck listening to my teenage daughters giggle and laugh with each other below in a new hammock. It was a wonderful time. Here is the week in images:

 

Delight

Delight

 

Joy

Joy

 

If you haven’t made it to La King’s Confectionary on the Strand – it’s a must. They are up for several “Best of Galveston” awards. It’s an old fashioned ice cream parlor with every imaginable candy and coffee drink. Something for everyone!

La King's Confectionary - Coffee Bar

La King’s Confectionary – Coffee Bar

 

La King's Confectionary - candy!

La King’s Confectionary – candy!

 

La King's Confectionary - Chocolates!

La King’s Confectionary – Chocolates!

 

We also spent a nice amount of time on the Bayside this week. My husband rode from the beach house to the marshes every day. Saw some amazing birds. I biked over with him a few times and the last morning there we took the youngest who wanted to take some photos of the birds.

Bayside tracks after rain

Bayside tracks after rain

 

Bayside bike ride

Bayside bike ride

 

Birdwatching on the bay

Birdwatching on the bay

 

And of course there was plenty of time for just strolling on the beach.

Beachwalk

Beachwalk

As always, the we enjoyed every minute there and it’s never long enough!

All in and all set

Last week my sister and I traveled to Las Brisas in Galveston to drop off a motherlode of supplies for the summer. And of course, while there, we did some refreshing and updating. I loved going with Ches. We left late on Sunday afternoon so we could have a sweet visit of 3 nights at the coast – we wanted to work in one day of relaxing. As busy mothers of busy kids, those free hours are precious. I even wrote ‘relax’ on my to do list. Sick, I know.

Sunday night we arrived late – the frogs were performing a symphony. I’ve never heard them so loud! Some trilled, others croaked. The croaking sounded alternatively like a duck quacking or creaking bed springs! Glad the ponds were full of life. Happily, we found no mosquitos.

The first morning at the house we woke up early and took a walk. The Sargassum this year seems to be record breaking. Pointe West is grooming every few days, but this had come in overnight. The seagulls were having a feast.

The sargassum

The sargassum

Love my sister!

Love my sister!

 

After the walk, we got to work – headed into Galveston to match the wall paint. That has been a real ongoing challenge, but at last we did it. While at the Sherwin Williams we found a perfect accent color too. So, we got a sample of that as well. After a few other stops in town we headed back to the house to meet the A/C folks. As we were heading into summer, wanted to double check the system.  All well.  We actually then drove back to Galveston to pick up a gallon of the selected “Copen Blue” accent color. LOVE it.

We touched up every wall in the house – it looks new again! No more luggage marks on the stairs or chair marks in the dining area. And painted the beautiful accent color on the back wall of windows. Hooray!

Beautiful Copen Blue

Beautiful Copen Blue

We tried a new place in Surfside for dinner Monday night with Chesney’s mother in law and best friend who also happened to be at Pointe West that week – the Red Snapper Inn. Totally worth the drive. We are difficult diners, with an assortment of allergies and they accommodated all of them – Gluten Free and Soy Free! I had a fabulous dinner of Snapper Vera Cruz. So big it made two meals. Will definitely be going back. The menu was fabulous.

Tuesday, Bay Area Chimney Sweeps came to clean out my vents – it’s bird nesting season and unfortunately, the vents had become home to several birds. They blocked my dryer vent and that was becoming problematic. Vents cleaned and covered by 11 am. The rest of the day we spent at the Beach Club and in the hammock chairs.

 

 

Hammock Chairs

Hammock Chairs

We read and chatted for hours and went to bed early!

Luxury.

And the next morning went home to the busyness that is May and the end of the school year. The house is ready for our summer guests – hope everyone experiences the refreshment that we did. Minus the sunburn!

Happy Summer!

Thanksgiving

Saturday morning, after Thanksgiving.

This week held we held a large family gathering at Las Brisas in Galveston. My dad’s youngest brother’s family. My sister’s family. Her husband’s sister’s family. The house was full of conversation, activity and food! In the quite of Saturday morning, the last of the guests began their travels home. We stayed for a few more hours soaking up the first warm temperatures of the week. I think I ate a neighborhood’s worth of leftover dressing and sweet potato casserole (which we all decided is really dessert!) We had such fun!!

A picture story –

Sunny but cool -pretty reflection in the pond.

Sunny but cool -pretty reflection in the pond.

 

Sister and brother in law enjoying the family walk

Sister and brother in law enjoying the family walk

 

Showing off the beach club at Pointe West

Showing off the beach club to the out of town family at Pointe West

 

Who cares if it's cold - the sun is out!

Who cares if it’s cold – the sun is out!

 

Cousin Love!

Cousin Love!

 

Getting ready to decorate the gingerbread lighthouse

Getting ready to decorate the gingerbread lighthouse

 

The completed project

The completed project

 

 

 

 

 

Spruced up for Summer

I completed the circuit of beach houses today – traveled from Port A to Galveston for a one nighter at Las Brisas. The drive was really lovely – the coastal vegetation is lush! Coming from drought stricken Central Texas, I marvel at green grass on the roadside. The fields and pastures I drove past were a gorgeous green.

Upon arrival, I unloaded some new adirondack chairs and a few other things at the house (to make room in the car!). I then drove into town to load up on supplies for summer and to get the best gluten free pizza at Mario’s on Seawall. I had waited all day for that deliciousness of warm mozzarella, crisp crust, spinach, roma tomatoes, mushrooms and thinly sliced sausage. It’s a good thing I like it so much, too, because I ate it at 4pm, 8pm and again at 1o this am for breakfast. Since I was there for such a short time, I didn’t want to get groceries!

After returning from town, I unloaded the car (again) and went straight to the beach. The light was perfect and I wanted to snap a few photos. It was spectacular!

Pointe West boardwalk at sunset

Pointe West boardwalk at sunset

Pond out back at sunset

Pond out back at sunset

I also found a beautiful shell, intact but for one little hole drilled into it.

Sea Treasure

Sea Treasure

I had to laugh when I saw this long lost flip flop and wondered how long it had been in the water before it washed up again!

A long lost flip flop

A long lost flip flop

The houses are ready for summer – stocked with supplies for all our guests. As always, the moment I am in the car to head home, I want to be back at the beach.  Since my family can’t be there all the time, I am very happy to share our beach homes with others who love the sand in their toes and salt on their skin as much as I do.