Roberts Point Park

I’m in Port Aransas, falling in love with my beach house and town all over again. The weather could’t be more perfect – 50’s at night, 70’s with sunshine and blue skies during the day. The dog and I are doing the pre-season check up and supply drop off, but there’s plenty of time for some R & R too.

There’s quite a bit of deck work going on and the workers accidentally sliced my DirecTV line, so we are sans cable for the time being. That actually is better for my plans for the few days we are here anyway. Who wants to be tempted to be a couch potato when the beach is calling! The deck rails are being finished today and construction is quite noisy, so we headed into town for lunch. Emmy (the pup) and I grabbed lunch to go at Subway and had a picnic at Roberts Point Park. It’s one of my favorite places to go when in Port Aransas. The park is located adjacent to a marina with some GORGEOUS boats/yachts. It’s also Where the Pollyanna, the local shrimp boat docks.

The park is a great family play area. There is a covered pavilion with picnic tables, horseshoe pits, playgrounds for kids and soccer fields. The park is next to the ship channel, so it’s a great place for watching dolphins. Benches are set up along the sidewalk if you want to take a break, sit and watch the ships, boats, pelicans, dolphins, etc. There are almost always fisherman fishing along the wall and at the pier.

 

We are on Airbnb!

We’re diversifying our listing exposure. While remaining on HomeAway and VRBO, we are also listing the Galveston Beach House, Las Brisas, on Airbnb. Go on over there to check it out! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7761435 Add us to your wish list! It will help other travelers find us.

I’d love to hear from travelers and owners if you have a favorite travel website you like best and why. When would you choose a hotel vs choose a home? Does it depend on location/number of folks/whole vs. partial place?  We’ve rented three times through VRBO for extended family gatherings in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. All three were fantastic experiences for all ages – grandparents, aunts, uncles and kids.

And of course, we love sharing our beach houses!

 

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Las Brisas

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

Is the Beach Safe?

I’ve received two calls over the past week from guests concerned about the bacteria counts in the water at the coast and one about shark attacks. Heavens! Worries can sure ruin a vacation. We have had a ton of runoff from the recent rains which unfortunately is impacting the contaminate (bacterial, viral or protazoan) counts in some locations. Thank goodness for www.texasbeachwatch.com from the General Land Office. Check out the map to see the status of the water near your location. Samples are taken once a week during the peak summer season and every other week the rest of the year. When beaches have a high contaminant level, an advisory is posted and levels are supposed to be tested every 24 hours until considered safe.

The beach over July 4th weekend in Pointe West.

The beach over July 4th weekend in Pointe West.

I found this news release from the Galveston County Health Department about the hot topic (http://www.gchd.org/press/2015/July-4-beach-advisories-press-release.pdf):

Scott Packard, Galveston County Health District spokesperson states, “Advisories are not uncommon after periods of heavy rain. Rain runoff from across the state flows into rivers and streams and eventually the Gulf. It’s a natural process that sometimes briefly increases bacteria levels at a handful of testing locations.” Advisories typically last just a few days, sometimes less, and are primarily aimed the people with weakened immune systems or open cuts or wounds. In fact, it’s routine for GCHD to recommend people with such health issues to consult their healthcare provider before swimming in untreated water, anywhere, anytime. The beach water advisory is simply a reiteration of that message. “If you are a healthy adult, you have little reason for concern when such advisories are issued,” said Packard. “If you are at a beach that’s under advisory and have concerns, we simply encourage you to go a block down the street to another one of the many beaches without an advisory.”

No worries at Pointe West over the 4th of July weekend. We got in the water and had a great time!

Tropical Storm Bill – You Nearly Gave me a Heart Attack

Hurricane Season – I’m not ready.

Having a beach house on the coast isn’t for the faint of heart. We’ve already had an incredible year of storms and we are only 17 days into the 2015 Hurricane Season. The month of April was a monster and the storms over the 17th/18th resulted in two new roofs – one on each beach house!! I thought having homes in two different parts of the coast would protect us (somewhat) from doing major repairs from storms on each house at the same time. Well, not so my friends!

One of my Pointe West neighbors had a indoor security camera running and caught the storm on video. We had a mini tornado with 100 mph winds. The wind and hail in Galveston were incredible and seriously, why ANYONE would not evacuate in a hurricane, I have no idea. It was terrifying just watching the video and listening to the wind howl (yes it sounded like a train) and the hail pound and the hanging light in the foyer start to sway in the worst of of the wind. HOLY MOLY. The hail sounded like someone dumping rocks on the house. In case you are wondering, no one was at our place at the time.  Thank heaven!!  My first experience putting in a claim with TWIA and new roof and new paint job and Las Brisas is back in business thanks to Morgan Roofing and John Brock Painting.

Now all the wind and rain we had took a toll on the Port A home as well. But, sadly, that roof was just OLD and worn out and had to be replaced. Good thing that house is cute because it’s a bit of a pain. The blue roof they had to rip off, actually had been put on OVER a tan roof which also had to be ripped off, resulting in lots of extra work and a bit of a schedule delay.

The roof in progress:

Port a roof in progress

finished roof side Finished Roof back

We were very happy with Ricky at Upgraded Roofing and the job they did.  I think the grey of the roof makes the house look even more blue. Of course that gorgeous sky also helps. Perfect beach day!

And now onto Tropical Storm Bill – 16 days into the hurricane season. Seriously! I JUST put TWO NEW ROOFS on the beach houses. I was glued to the twitter feed from Galveston County OEM  (@galvcountyoem) and the Nueces County OEM (@nuecesoem) as well as the National Hurricane Center – Atlantic Ops (@NCH_Atlantic) for about 24 hours. My phone buzzed like crazy with updates. They were incredibly informative on the status of the storm. I was also in frequent communication with the guests at Las Brisas. Nothing indicated that it would be nearly as bad as the April storm, so I was not at all concerned for the guests at the house. It would be windy and rainy, but that’s about it. Gusts up to 40 mph. Luckily for all of us, the storm came ashore over Matagorda Bay – between Port Aransas and Galveston. And luckily, it moved just enough that the Galveston house received some rain, but not nearly as much as it could have been. Port A actually got more rain today, the day after the storm, than it did in the storm. My housekeeper said that some places may have received 5 inches of rain in an hour. Glad to have that new roof!!

Here’s hoping the REST of the summer is free from storms of any sort and full of sunshine.

I saw this at HomeGoods (my favorite store) this week and despite the drama and the trouble with homes on the coast, the statement is true. Let’s go to the beach!

Heaven closer

4 Tips for Planning Thanksgiving on Vacation

Coastal Holiday Planning

It’s become a family tradition to gather the extended family at Las Brisas, our beach house in Galveston, for Thanksgiving. My sister in law has a place in the same neighborhood, so there is plenty of room for the 13 + that celebrate together.

Planning Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd, including the cooking timeline and a bonus example of a DIY craft - a gingerbread turkey!

Family togetherness – planning the gingerbread lighthouse.

Planning a large holiday meal for a crowd takes some forethought and planning for one in a vacation home, even more so. Here are a few tips for pulling it off beautifully.

1. Find out about the kitchen
Ask the owner about baking dishes etc. Our vacation homes sleep a lot of folks and are well stocked to prepare meals for a crowd. I set the kitchens up in Galveston and Port Aransas so I could cook a holiday meal in each of them – lots of pots and pans and baking dishes. Alternatively, if the kitchen you are in is limited in its cookware, use disposable foil baking pans.

2. Bring the turkey
I buy a frozen turkey and bring it with us. We are fortunate that the kids have the whole week off, so I buy the turkey prior to heading out of town and stick it in a cooler, still frozen, for the drive. If you are arriving on a Wednesday and expect to cook the turkey on Thursday, make sure it’s thawed before you get to the vacation home!

3. Decide the ‘must have’ foods
At home, I have a double oven, so cooking a wide variety of foods is easy. With the single oven at the beach house kitchen, things need to be a bit more streamlined. When we started this tradition, I asked the family members what they needed on the table for it to be Thanksgiving, to make sure the meal met everyone’s expectations. Luckily, some of the must haves overlapped! I list our typical menu below.

4. Plan the cooking of the meal
What time will the dinner be eaten? How long will the turkey take to cook? Plan the rest of the meal backwards from there. It’s easier to make a few things the day before if possible.

Every year I debate about cooking the pies the day ahead of Thanksgiving. I’m doing it this year 🙂 and if we dig in a day early, so be it.

Here is my usual timeline. I’ve saved an electronic version of this as well as a shopping list so I can access it every year. I use the large turkey instructions from The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry and the Dry Brine from Williams Sonoma. Can’t beat it!
Thanksgiving 2014 Plan – Eat at 4:30 pm

Menu
Roast Turkey
Dad’s Homemade Gravy
Steamed and Buttered Green Beans – 20 minutes, stove top
Sweet Potato Casserole – 45 minutes @ 350
Mashed Potatoes – peel, boil and mash
Broccoli Casserole – 45 minutes @ 350
Corn Bread Stuffing – 45 minutes @ 350
Crescent Rolls
Pecan Pie – 1 hour @ 325
Apple Crisp – 35 minutes @ 350

Wednesday
Pecan pie, Stuffing, Cranberries

 

Thursday
10 am: Bake Broccoli Casserole and Sweet Potato Casserole
12 pm: Turkey in oven (3 1/2 to 4 hours plus 20 minutes rest)
3 pm: Start Mashed Potatoes
4 pm: Finish Gravy and reheat Casseroles
4:30 pm – Apple Crisp

I was thinking about Thanksgiving this weekend and couldn’t resist making some cornbread dressing. I stuffed a pork tenderloin with it. I admit, this is my favorite culinary season of the year. Although Summer BBQ runs a close second 🙂

Best of luck with your travel and holiday meal plans!!

Planning Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd, including a cooking timeline and a bonus DIY craft - a gingerbread turkey