Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Overtanned, Pastel-Wearing Southern Imposter




So I am recently returned from a long, fabulous trip.  I never write about travel because I hate reading travel posts because I don't particularly care about travel.  I could only ever see two places for the rest of my life and be content.  You might think that makes me dumb and small minded and one of the perks of being dumb and small minded is that I don't give a fuck.  Perhaps I don't have the bandwidth.  I pity the fool who needs to go to Africa to expand their mind.  Please don't read this as me being judgmental of those who live to travel.  It's not.  It's me being judgmental of those who act as if travel is the only way to learn.  You know the type.  You can learn lessons of the world by watching people in the grocery store if you have a philosophical imagination.   I respect those who would rather spend $700 on a plane ticked than on a Le Creuset bathtub.  But give me the LC and you can have my air miles too. It's just not my thing. 
I traveled a lot as a kid and don't remember much except traffic and threatening to pee my pants because the hotel check in was taking so long.  Isn't it ridiculous how long checking in used to take?  I don't like hotels--the way they smell, specifically.  And there's such a tension in hotels.  Whenever I am in close proximity to strife or acrimony, I can't help but charge in and mediate.   I can't fix the Johnsons' marital problems over a continental breakfast.  But I will spend the rest of the day wondering how their fight shook out and if she murdered him.  I hope she did.  The world doesn't need a man who wears all that aftershave and wrinkled pleated shorts. 
Oh? and airplanes.  Fuck me with a rusty shovel, no thanks.  Like everything else, I attribute this at least partially to being a Taurus.  We are not a fast moving people and  I think it all just happens too fast and with too much bad lighting.  And the air.  Just thinking about breathing recycled airplane air gives me a panic attack.  And I hate airports and how ugly luggage is now and why is there always some jackass eating a fried fish sandwich screaming into his phone trying to convince us he's the most important man in Tallahassee, Florida?  We don't give a fuck, Gary.   
So I deviate from my generation in that I find myself and connect with my ~true self~ at Jaguar dealerships and outlet malls instead of volunteering at a sanctuary in Micronesia that treats butterflies with low self esteem.
I miss the blinding sunlight terribly



Vacation laundry is so attractive 

Dear Santa...

So, yes, my true self is an over-tanned, white convertible driving, pastel wearing Southern imposter.  Therefore, Hilton Head Island is my sanctuary.  I have been going there forever and I still cannot get enough.  The only thing that is painful for me is that my grandparents toured Sea Pines in the 1950s and had the opportunity to buy a huge parcel of land for nothing and they didn't.  They truly, honestly couldn't afford it but I am still mad.  If they had both been a little less selfish and sold a kidney and some liver I think they could have done it.  As it turns out, I prefer its rival Palmetto Dunes much more anyway. 
My sister loved having me at her beck and call as her
Instagram photographer.  I got her this kimono for her
birthday.  

My sister loves a daytime jumpsuit.  She had five for the trip
We were howling laughing taking this one. We may have
had a few g&ts

Because Hilton Head is built on entertaining tourists from the Midwest, New England, and Ontario, it's not the real South.  Many of the elements are there--the heat, the palms, the live oaks, the Spanish moss, the occasional well-behaved alligator--but it's rare to see a South Carolina license plate on Hilton Head Island.  Most are from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.  In fact, I think I hear the ubiquitous OH-IO chant/greeting more down there than I do up here.  Mainly because it's a thing to have an Ohio State tent/cabana at the beach and wear Ohio State clothing out to dinner.  I want to be annoyed by this but I find it charming.  I don't wear Ohio State shit, but I smile a little when I see it. 



Barbie sleeps very well on vacation


But the OSU tourists are not my people either.  My people are the assimilated locals who play Southern.  They act like they can't recall how long they've lived there when it's only been like 19 months, they invite you for sweet tea on their porch that's just iced tea because sweet tea to a Northerner is disgusting, and they never quite get out of the slightly sunburned phase of their tan.  They drive champagne or white convertibles with license plates like NO MOR NJ, BYBY NY, GON 2 HHI, OHBYEOH, DC U L8R, and my favorite WAS HIS.  They convene at the beach at 6 and are back home by 7, everyone has a black Labrador or Golden Retriever rescue, and they only meet up off-beach once a week for a revolving happy hour.  Occasionally there are dinners if someone wants to cook or got some good shrimp for less than $10/lb.  That seems to be a sticking point.  They pay $300 to have the pollen washed off their car and detailed seemingly once a week but over their dead bodies will they pay more than $10/lb for fresh, perfect, beautiful, amazing, local shrimp.  No one ever talks about politics and no one ever gets pale.  I didn't even know Donald Trump had enough delegates until Friday when I caught the front page of Chuck and Mary's paper. 
Our weather was perfect the entire time, had we left one day
 later travel would have been much more difficult


Though I am opposed to shore fishing, this man was very nice and released his
catches very quickly. 

Pardon the crack, this is a blacktip shark.  

I enjoyed meeting Greg of Barnacle Bill's Seafood Market and got the best shrimp I've ever had.  I think they were $14/lb but I absolutely would have paid $20.  I had read about BB's a few years ago but did not actually visit until urged by our fabulous server here (which was 100x better than it was last year). It is an open-air seafood market where the inventory changes daily.  Greg recently took over and I was very impressed. If you're visiting, go see him! I intended to boil these shrimp but my first night in the rental house I had no cooktop because the pool guy accidentally turned off the gas.  With all the shrimp prepped, I opted to roast instead and they could not have been any better.  I made them four more times! A Le Creuset braiser is ideal here.  If you do not have one, improvise with something similar.  You want a lot of heat and steam.  I de-veined my shrimp using shrimp scissors and a bamboo skewer.  Cut in just about an inch to keep the shell on but still access the vein.  Greg says one need not de-vein but I haven't assimilated that far yet. 

Roasted Peel & Eat Shrimp
2 lbs shell-on head off shrimp
1 stick butter (yes)
1 bunch parsley, chopped and divided equally
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
4 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons Old Bay
1.5 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Toss shrimp with lemon zest, garlic, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, old bay, salt and 1/2 of the parsley.  You may wish to toss delicately with silicone spatulas as the tails are sharp.  If you have Kevlar hands like me it doesn't matter.  They can be roasted right away but I think they are best when marinated for an hour.  In the refrigerator in a bowl nestled on top of ice in a casserole dish (my vacation fridge is a little on the warm side).  Have oven preheated to 400F on convection.  Spray a braiser with cooking oil and add shrimp.  Slice the stick of butter and nestle around the shrimp.  Cover and roast about 6-10 minutes.  Uncover, toss quickly as to distribute butter evenly and put back in just until the shrimp are an attractive color and not overcooked.  For me in my vacation oven this is about five more minutes.  Though I suspect at home in my more powerful oven, it would be about three.  Once finished, remove from oven, toss in additional parsley, tossing butter sauce again.  Serve immediately. Shells will be easier to peel as shrimp cool slightly. 
Le Creuset outlet stores have braisers in every color for about $130-50. They
ship free within the continental US so you need not pick up in person.

I also went on more dates in two weeks than I have in the last five years. I think the culture of the place contributed to this but I also think I might have turned off my barbed wire high voltage electrical fence I've been known to surround myself with.  What can I say, 700 times bitten (some of them good) and 701 times shy or something like that. 
No, Hilton Head Island is not a place to impress your Instagram followers or sleep in a yurt.  It is too boring for many, and not much changes.  Most of the restaurants are decent at best and there isn't much culture or economy outside of resortdom.  It is my favorite place in the world. 
This year, I opted to delay my birthday celebration with my family until we were all down in HHI.  My birthday is the 19th and we could all be present by the 21st.  So I moved my birthday to Tuesday the 24th.  Tuesday of the weeklong HHI trip is my favorite day.  We're all settled and have slipped into vacation routine but the thought of leaving is far away.  For my birthday the past few years, I've celebrated with a gin and tonic crabcake luncheon.  Men must wear navy or green (I can wear coral cause it's birthday) and ladies must wear pink or green, Lilly Pulitzer preferred.  No one follows this dress code except my sister and me but that's okay.  Part of my schedule on this day is to go take a long walk at the beach in the 10-1 time frame when most of the house is still waking up and getting ready.  Barbie stays home because it is too hot and long for her.  Plus she is exhausted from sunrise at the beach.  I think birthdays ought to include some solid reflection.  And what better place to do so than where you can walk aimlessly for hours and still be in your favorite place? 
Shortly before my departure, I couldn't resist making a birthday cake at home.
Yellow cake with chocolate-orange frosting and macerated berries


A giant strawberry shortcake. I will post this recipe.

After I had been walking south for quite a while, I noticed a familiar silhouette of a condo building where my family had once stayed.  This was back in the day when my dad planned the trip and before I cooked any of the meals.  It was even before I figured out HHI's proximity to a million gay marines who couldn't be too picky because of DADT (I'm glad it was repealed but it's made my vacations a little less fun).  We stayed in these condos when I was just a kid who loved getting on the beach before the sunrise to look for shells and pet dogs.  I would be out there all day with my various field guides for shells, invertebrates, birds, and optimistically turtles.  I would often meet up with my grandparents on my third or fourth walk as they headed out on their first. 
Back to 2016, as I took note of this condo complex and remembered my time there I was struck by a vividly familiar memory.  A memory so clear and strong but so previously unaccessed, I first thought it was deja vu.  A good looking older couple walking at a steady clip.  Midway between the surf and the dunes as to maximize the view to include both ocean and real estate.  The woman was wearing a red sweatshirt even though it was hot and the man was wearing denim shorts with high white socks and a navy polo.  For a moment it was them.  Looking to be what I thought was old then so young now.  Walking without concern, laughing, independent.  My grandmother always wore her Ohio State University Medical Center sweatshirt at the beach because she was damn proud to be associated.  There they were, coming more into focus.  Just as I remembered them all those years ago.  I began to reach into my slightly ill-fitting heavily discounted mint green Ralph Lauren shorts and take a photo of this time bending lucid memory.  As  I grabbed my phone, I stopped and turned around.  I feared the camera would reveal an inaccuracy I did not want to see.  I opted not to walk past them, rather to let all three of us keep the moment forever. 

Not bad after 1.5 bottles of rose

At least I have other talents.

Munching on a baby shark

Do you know what this is? It was the talk of the beach...

A trail belonging to HHI's most important visitor This one decided
to come back later.


I suppose most of life is forging new paths.  Sometimes you're lucky enough to stumble onto one of the good, old ones. 

82 comments:

  1. Fun times. Enjoyable post.

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  2. I think this is my favorite-est post in the history of the Stephen Andrew Jones Chronicles. Wow, guy.. you are a writer. When are you going put this all in book form? You had me laughing at hello! I'm not fond of travel either, but I do it occasionally because once I get there, I enjoy seeing new things and sticking my toes in clean white sands and taking long shell seeking walks where the water is blue and nobody knows my name. Can't do that here.

    What.. no date sharing here? Please tell me you did NOTHING with a rusty shovel.

    And please.. share the chocolate orange frosting when you can.

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    1. Hahahaha thank you so much and I'm more than relieved to tell you that no shovels were harmed in the making of this vacation! I can't share anything about the dates yet because a few of them were actually good! I will get the recipe for the chocolate orange frosting. It's sort of improvised but so good. Basically just add zest of two oranges (actually I prefer to do one navel orange and one tangelo) to any chocolate buttercream. Soooo good. It's amazing how much flavor you het from that zest!

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    2. I can manage that! thanks!

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  3. Funny as heck post, as always, but I love the last photo of the hazy sun and the bejeweled water with the little ships far, far in background. It reminds be of Van Gogh's Starry Night!

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    1. Thank you so much! I love that one too. It was so bright that I couldn't really see but I thought it had a chance of turning out!

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  4. I really never had even the faintest desire to see Hilton Head...but now...well, with you it would be heaven! xoxo PS I will try to pack jumpsuits and hot pink clothing...or things that will at least appear hot pink after enough G&T's

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    1. Hahaha perfect! I know I always say I am HHI's best ambassador because I really truly love it so much. But I also see its flaws. The restaurant thing is so funny to me because I seem to be the only one who thinks most of the restaurants are bad. I've been to a lottttt of them and never had the desire to return to most. But I'm not a huge restaurant lover anyway.

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    2. I agree regarding the restaurants. I really am Red Fish restaurant fan though. Good place to wear Lilly .

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  5. I'm a Beaufort/ New Orleans/ st Simonsevrn though I've only been once girl but I get your Hilton head thing even though we drove straight past it partly BC my father loved it as its a gold place too right?

    I envy your Taurean rootedness. My husband is one and I swear if I told him he never had to leave the country he wouldn't care less but that would be my nightmare. I can't believe I married someone who doesn't flipping fly.

    Beautifully written post and wishing you a belated birthday!

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    1. Wow what a brilliant Holiday post!
      I have always envied people that have a "Family Cottage or Cabin or Compound" somewhere that everyone convenes for some summer fun...your birthday celebration sounds like such a lovely getaway...packed with fun, food family and great memories...and a few dates!

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    2. I was in Beaufort a little bit this trip because I went to a farmers market in Port Royal. So I had some time to kill around there. Such a gorgeous area! Yes, HHI is beloved by golfers. So funny about you and your husband! Isn't that always the way it goes though? I am generally drawn to people who love to travel even though I have no interest. Opposites certainly do attract.
      Hostess, I do too! I love families having one spot where it's just understood that everyone will vacation. That seems to be falling out of fashion as people become increasingly bold and adventurous in travel. There were some years where we had parties of 18 down in HHI at the same time. So fun! Thank you!!

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  6. Oh Stephen, you are hilarious!" "Butterflies with low self esteem"! I just snorted my Matcha Green Tea everywhere at 5am Aussie time.

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    1. Haha I'm sorry for the mess! Thank you!

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  7. I laughed at so much of this post There's no point even saying, specifically, which parts because you already know. And the poignant parts? They slayed me.

    Your sister is so pretty...and so YOUNG! Except when you've written about your parents I never really thought about how young you must be, too, probably because you write with the wisdom of a much older person.

    I've never been to Hilton Head but it sounds sort of lovely. I've heard Kiawah is very nice, too. When I get 'home' these days, it's usually Cape Cod, where I grew up vacationing, that sucks me back in. It's nice to have a heart place where family time is spent and a lifetime's memories are made.

    Thanks for recounting this all so well. You are a joy.

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    1. Thank you so much, Katherine! My sister does love glamor and has an incredible sense of humor so she gets a real thrill of being embarrassingly overdressed. She can make me laugh like no one else. Kiawah is beeeeeautiful! I haven't been in almost 20 years but I loved it. We actually started going to Kiawah before HHI but once we ran out of toilet paper and had to drive three hours to find a store that was open to get more and that was the last time we were there! It is a truly beautiful place though. Actually my parents made a similar real estate blunder there. They could have bought six ocean front acres for something like $100k. Ten years later it was $1M/acre! Real estate tycoonery is not in my DNA. I love Cape Cod! It is so beautiful and I have such wonderful memories there so I guess I should say my list of favorite places is a bit longer.

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  8. Gawd you are hilarious. I want to go to Hilton Head more than anything now, but only if you are there! Happy belated birthday!!

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    1. Haha thank you so much! Well I'm headed back down there in September and maybe sooner. You should come! I'd be happy to show you around!

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  9. I too almost spit my drink across the room while reading your post at lunch. You are an amazing writer.
    I too am a Hilton Head vaca person, from Ohio, a Taurus, and I swear I know that house at Palmetto Dunes. We stay at Captain's Walk at Palmetto. Plus I am a Lilly fan big time. That beach ball is on its way in the mail to me as I write this. It was a free prezzy with purchase. We recently came back from Florida and everywhere I went women would come up and whisper-- is that Lilly you are wearing? My husband was amused. He really was. It was as if he could not believe people can pick that out in a crowd. I am sure those who wear Valentino can do the same but that is a different stratosphere of a price range. So that won' t be happening with Valentino and me. Love your posts. You do need to write a book and Happy Birthday from one Taurus to another.

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    1. Haha thank you!! So funny about the beach ball! My sister found two Lilly dresses at that SM Bradford Lilly store in Wexford and the sales woman asked her if she'd rather wait to buy them the next day because she'd get the free ball! She said she didn't care but my mom was so excited about it that she made her wait. I just love the colors of Lilly!

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    2. I bought a pair of Lilly pants on sale at The

      Wexford store last year. Nice helpful sales staff. Lilly colors just make me smile! They were giving away 2 cute beach chairs last weekend also but I think you had to spend $1200 on Lilly. Wish they would just let us buy the chairs.

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    3. Haha yeah my sister asked if she could just buy the ball and they wouldn't let her. The beach ball is actually distributed by a company in Columbus! I wonder if the chairs are too.

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  10. Every time I see the title of your post, I know I'm going to be in for the most enjoyable read of the day! Happy Birthday, Stephen, from a fellow Ohioan who loves the Buckeyes, but won't wear the colors (scarlet and gray do nothing for me). You nailed it with the people at HHI, too. We like going to the Jersey Shore because we have family there, or just staying at home where we have "the best place on the Lake (Erie)" according to our friends. . .

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    1. Thank you so much! Oh I'll bet the OSU Michigan thing is even more intense up there than it is down here. How wonderful to live on the lake! I haven't been up to Lake Erie in soooo long. My aunt and uncle used to have a boat that they kept in Marblehead and took to Put In Bay and that was the last time! I think that was like 1999.

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  11. Welcome back from your holidays and a belated happy birthday to you Steven..I love to read your blog .. Your writing always puts me in a good mood. It is so entertaining. Keep it up. Love to hear from you.

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    1. Thank you so much, Mary Sue!! I always intend to write more frequent posts that are shorter but I just want to get everything out at once!

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  12. You open up whole new worlds for me. Although I have long been devoted to world travel and I know of Hilton Head, I've never had any desire to go there (or really anywhere in the South). Reading your blog is changing my mind (and teaching me yet again not to close it in the first place). Thank you, Stephen.

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    1. Leslie in OregonMay 31, 2016 at 7:39 PM

      The above comment from "Unknown" is from Leslie in Oregon.

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    2. Thank you so much, Leslie! I think you would love it. It's so laid back and beautiful. it's a great place to do a proper beach vacation. It also has such a dynamic climate and the plants and gardens are so lovely.

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    3. Leslie in OregonJune 1, 2016 at 12:42 AM

      I love your photographs of Barbie, especially in mid-air! What a glorious creature!!

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  13. I adore you. And I want to hear the story of your dates! Are you suggesting that my blindingly handsome 26-year old son who lives in Brooklyn might find the love of his life on a Southern beach? Or only that he would be well-amused, despite the drought of friendly Marines? We do appreciate your briefings in this matter.

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    1. Haha thank you! Well you never know. And there are a lot of New Yorkers down there! I actually enjoyed the dates which I usually don't. But don't worry I will invite you all to each of my weddings! I think the nice thing about HHI is that people who go there tend to visit often enough that it's not like people disappear as they might from other resort destinations. I can speak from experience that 26 is an age the HHI market responds to. I think it's young enough to be exciting but old enough to be respectable.

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  14. Even though I am admittedly EXACTLY the kind of travelologist that you describe ("maybe I can help those butterflies...but better yet, maybe they will help ME"), I still have whole-heartedly proclaim that this is one of my very favorite of your posts. Thank you for the laugh. And oh, I am an idiot, I just figured out what photos you meant and will send them once they have been photoshopped!
    xo
    PS. That your Sister is so beautiful only confirms my Secretly A Hottie theory.

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    1. Hahaha no no no you're not. I know you don't look down on me for my lack of travel! That's really what I mean. I wish I connected to my true self in more noble or at least interesting ways! Thank you!!

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  15. I wondered where you were! If you could send me that strawberry shortcake I would really appreciate it. What a great vacation...nice photos too! You have the biggest fan club in the blogosphere...look at all those comments.

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    1. Thank you, Lori! The strawberry shortcake is soooo good and sooo easy! I will post the recipe!

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  16. Luff this post.

    Have you met Someone? If so who? Would I like them? Does Barbie?

    Barbie's pink collar and your sister's outfit are both 11/10.

    Happy Birthday. Love the cake.

    You need to learn to fly so you can visit me here. You'd like it and feel rich because the Australian dollar is really really weak.

    xx

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    1. Haha thanks FF! I knew you'd also appreciate my heavily discounted clobber. I would love to feel rich in Oz but I honestly don't know how I would manage getting there! I wanted to ask you if that lady who got eaten by the crocodile is near where you live? I loved what the government official said about how you can protect people from stupidity! Haha.

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    2. it's in the same state but a 2 hour plane ride away. I feel really sorry for her, what a way to go…You can't legislate against stupidity, but it was just a silly mistake. Can't believe the story made the news there? Love the image of you as a kid on the beach, reminds me of my kid. You would feel so rich here but the cost of housing and food cars might give you a heart attack. What do you charge for foils and a hair cut? Last time I went to a hair dresser in 2011 it cost $395….You should just drug up and come x

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  17. Love your posts Andrew, this one takes the cake! So true about opposites attract. My hubby, many years ago proclaimed why travel when we have everything we need in AU and this coming from a steak and mashed potato man. Happy to report Asia cured him, now travels and eats shrimp and loves it. Blame his mother! Happy belated birthday and hope you find the love of your life.

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    1. Thank you! Oh that's too funny about your husband! I am glad he's come around and learned to love travel. I've always been an open minded eater so never a day in my life has that been a problem. I wish it were! Thank you so much.

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  18. Very glad to see you back again, Stephen. I'm glad you enjoyed your vacation. I admit to being a stay-at-home-forever type myself. I've never ventured onto an airplane except for once when the first graders toured the airport and were allowed to see the inside of one. Everyone tells me traveling is the best but I figure somebody's got to hold down the fort back home. Belated birthday wishes to you!

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    1. Haha exactly! I love making Bon voyage and welcome home dinners for other people as they embark and return and are exhausted and hungry from a day of travel. Thank you!!

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  19. Welcome back from vacation, and belated Happy Birthday! I'm glad you enjoyed it and I must say, you were missed! This post set an excellent tone for me just before I headed out the door to work - only having read half of it. So funny, so real, so honest. You are the consummate vacationer with your desserts and Le Crueset pans! I love it. And good for you for going for the shrimp. I remember visiting in-laws in Nova Scotia, driving along the ocean for hours and asking to stop and get fresh seafood, only to be taken to a place that served us frozen scallops and canned peas. But, I mustn't focus on the worst (it just seemed like such a waste of what could have been a vacation moment, and they are too precious to waste!). I think the food (the best you can bring/get) on vacation is just as important as the destination! Thanks for sharing a beautiful vacation. ~Nicole in CA

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    1. Thank you so much! Oh I know exactly what you mean and that drives me insane! That is my issue wth many of the restaurants on HHI. Rather than have prices fluctuate with the market, they do mostly non-local seafood and it drives me insane! That said I did get lobster rolls both times at Coast rather than the local swordfish that was on special but it was a spinach wrap and I don't eat spinach in restaurants. It's just confounding to me because HHI is not a terribly price sensitive place (except for locals and their shrimp) so I don't think they'd need to worry too much about vacationers scoffing at $5-10 fluctuations. And the funniest to me is the huge fuss about oysters when we were in the opposite of local oyster season. I saw plate after plate of oysters and couldn't help but wonder where they came from and how long their journey was! Cooking on vacation is one of my favorite things.

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  20. Well, you should post travel posts more because this one was just lovely. Even if you never go anywhere else but HHI, I feel like I get to go there whenever you do! And I am SO with you on the airplane thing....all the glamour has just been sucked out of that kind of travel with a giant funnel, so what's the point? Plus you couldn't bring Barbie!

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    1. Hah thank you! It's such a beautiful place! Perhaps when you're in Charleston next you can head down there. It's only about 3 hours. And you'd love the Port Royal farmers market. It's all put on by the Master Gardeners and it is so well done.

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  21. WHERE DID YOU FIND the SISTER's KIMONO?I WANT ONE!YOU are a PIECE of FRESH AIR........what can I say that has not already been SAID!When are you coming back to INSTAGRAM.......I am already FOLLOWING YOU!I have forgotten what photos were promised on THAT SPECIAL DAY but tell me and I will POST TOOT SUITE!!!!BY the SOUNDS of it I think YOU had a MARVELOUS BIRTHDAY!Well, I know YOU DID as WE communicated!Continue the CELEBRATION.........and since I need to visit FADED VELVET AGAIN because she did not SHARE her neighbors gardens I will JOG down to YOU and my BUDDY JO who was suppose to SURPRISE you those months back.........OHIO will SEE me AGAIN!Even if I have to take 3 airplanes to ARRIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!XXXX

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    1. Haha thank you! No picture in particular but I wondered if when I called since you were out taking photos anyway if there was a picture of that! The link to the kimono is in the caption beneath the photo! It's so beautiful! It's made by Natori. If you come back to Ohio and go to that flea market again I will tag along! I have a big car now so I can get into more trouble at these things!

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    2. Thank You and Yes you may drive as Donna had us in Pennsylvania ‼️I will help you get INTO TROUBLE I'm good at that sort of thing💥

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  22. Happy Birthday! So happy for you, that you've had a wonderful birthday & holiday. And thanks for sharing it with us.
    My big sis is a Taurean and our neighbors call her "the model" as she's gorgeous, tall with beautiful blonde hair ( I know I know, I kept asking my mum why she changed the color charts for each of her 4 kids as I'm the only one with brown hair, brown eyes. The other 3 have beautiful blue or green eyes and have blonde or a gorgeous caramel colored hair)!
    We also have a tradition of family holidays for the last 20 or so years. Initially we'd go on beach holidays but last year we all went skiing together in July. We rent houses that sleep up to 17 wherever we go and our kids now want to holiday with their cousins. My younger sis also started a tradition of a dress up night with a trophy awarded to best adult and best kid dress up. Sounds ridiculous and it is! But we all fall about laughing. Interestingly, my husband and our daughter regularly win the trophy.
    Other passengers on planes can be interesting. Coming back home, our daughter vomited into the sick bag (thank goodness and not just everywhere). I took the bag as she was in the window seat and I had to ask the people to move so I could take the bag to the bin. The people wouldn't move so I held up the bag so they could see it and I said look the bag is made of paper and if it breaks these seats will stink. They then moved pronto!
    Happy Birthday again! Den xx

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    1. hahaha that is hilarious! That's what I despise most about travel is how rude people are! I would have dropped it in their laps. Actually I ended up wit my deep discount (70%) at Ralph Lauren because I set a rude customer straight. I said what the sales girls were thinking but couldn't say! I love the idea of at least one dress up night! That is a great idea. I am the middle and my brother and sister are called the twins because they look so much alike. Fair hair, fair skin, light blue eyes. I look like them but have darker skin, almost black hair, and dark blue eyes. We joke that maybe there was a Greek mailman! If I didn't look so much like my dad people might be suspicious! Thank you so much!

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  23. there's just too much here. my brain is exploding. i must find a way to get you famous. your writing is SO good. it seems a shame that more aren't reading. but really i couldn't agree with you more. when i wrote about my first trip to england/france a couple years back, someone left a comment saying that my lack of travel explains everything. obvi left by a travel snob. i think i love the home i have so much, not much else appeals to me. your sis is gorgeous and i'm dying to know where the other place you like to travel to. just so much goodness here. xo

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    1. Haha thank you so much, J!! Oh what a nasty comment. I'd say even more likely than a travel snob is someone who wants to play travel snob. but I really do think travel snobbery is the worst because it's always under the guise of false humility. I like snobs who wear their snobbery on their lapel. I wouldnt want to leave your house either. Maybe just to grab some bar keeper's friend and some butter. Actually I had a very low tox vacation in terms of cleaning products and didn't use bleach, windex, or bar keepers friend once. I had a funny moment before I left. I had read your post and was cleaning my range when it struck me how I always escort Barbie out of the room when I'm spraying cleaners because I don't want her to breathe them! I never think about exposing myself (hehe) to them but I won't dream of having Barbie in their path. So maybe I'm much more worried about it than I'm leading on! Thanks again for your lovely comment.

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  24. oh and i adore the kimono and please consider IG. it's not that bad. lol

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    1. I second the IG thing. Pretty please? Janet and I will help you reign in your green~eyed competitive monster. We promise.

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    2. The kimono is SO gorgeous in person. It's called the mirage and it really has a mesmerizing quality to it. Oh you couldn't even imagine how obsessive and insane I become. I will keep working on it!

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  25. Happy Belated Birthday! I'm glad you had an amazing vacation. There is nothing like finding that "special" place to escape to. For my husband and I it has always been Mount Desert Island in Maine. Or pretty much anywhere in Maine to be honest. We always thought we would end up living there but then we heard the sweet tea calling and that is all she wrote. ;)
    Speaking of sweet tea: not a fan. Although it is stealthily coursing through the menfolks veins here already. Speaking of flying: not a fan either. I wouldn't mind it if there was still a such thing as AIRPLANE ETIQUETTE, but there isn't and it is a sin. I fly biweekly now and it gets more and more aggravating. People used to get off of planes civilized and row by row from front to back. Now you get a bunch of jackasses that jump up as soon as the plane stops rolling and clusterfuck the aisle. I.cannot. Someone needs to make it stop. Maybe that's my true calling in life...to be like an airplane crossing guard. Wonder what kind of cute outfit I could have doing that.....
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you!! Oh Maine is the other place on my list! Too funny about your husband and son taking to sweet tea! Yuck! Now I love sun tea sweetened with orange but that's just not sweet enough for real Southerners. And yet they don't sweeten their cornbread which I think is insane. Oh you have my sympathy for all your travel! I could not do that. How are you doing getting ready for the show??! I'm so excited! I don't know that I could but I'm keeping an eye on that weekend as itd be fun to pop down there for the show. It looks like it'll be great! No, don't try and work in an airport. Nothing but frustration for someone who is accustomed to being efficient!

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    2. if you were on IG you'd know just how much Eleanor travels...just saying....lol

      speaking of lost etiquette...there is no longer camping manners. it's obscene how disrespectful people are. the other night larry and i jetted off to joshua tree for a quick overnight for dinner and a star gaze and at 4am 2 women tramped through our camp with headlights on and talking loudly like it was noon. then met up with some other idiot who was blathering about having some "special brownies" to share with them. this has become the regular behavior with people. it's a true tragedy bc the great outdoors is no longer peaceful or serene.

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    3. Oh that is just horrendous! Lol you realize those non-camper type campers were probably there to get a really inspired ~connecting to Mother Nature~ Instagram photo?! Luckily they'll probably selfie off a cliff soon enough. I wanted to post some of my brother's astrophotogroahy in this post but he didn't get them to me in time. But one of his hobbies is stargazing at 3-4AM in absolute darkness. Sounds awful to me but the photos are beautiful. Anyway Joshua Tree is #1 on his list as it's the best for such pursuits apparently.

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    4. You are welcome here in Maine for endless lobster and local shrimp(has not been legal for a couple years though)! Glorious view, kayaking, get-out-the -guidebooks again for the birds, etc!!

      I love that you do family vacations with your LC. HHI is a lovely place; I think the same crowd goes to where I spend some of the winter on a FL gulf coast island.

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    5. Thank you! Be careful inviting me as I will likely accept the invitation! I'm not sure which island is yours but it does seem that the Sanibel and HHI crowds have similar values. I do think I must make it to Maine before October. hmmm...

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  26. Stephen Andrew this post is 11/10! I'm just back from a three day vacation with my husband at a 5* hotel which is my favourite sort of hols (short drive to get there) with the exception of renting a fabulous house in a beautiful location, communing with the local nature and getting to know the food shops, planning big dinners every day... bliss... as you know I can hardly wait to visit HHI and I'll definitely be sourcing some LP frocks for just such a holiday.
    I have a very clear image of you as a darling little boy now, walking the beach 6 or 7 times a day. That recipe looks divine, I'll be copying you for certain. I'm very happy you moved your birthday it sounds like it was perfection. Also I love your vacation wardrobe, coral is my colour for a southern holiday too. XOX

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    1. Thank you, Dani! I hope your trip was fab. Can't wait to hear about it! Yes haha I was an obsessive birdwatcher when I was little! That and I loooooved the alligators. I keep a much greater distance from them now that I have Barbie. But I still think they are so cute and I love their coloring. Actually one time when I was probably 15 I was down there and spotted an alligator in the ocean! I told some lady to get her kids out of the water and she goes "oh honey they don't swim in the ocean!" So I asked her if she could see the long creature with the spiny ridges. Haha she accessed superhuman mother strength and ripped them both out at the same time by one arm each. Though she never apologized to me! Lol. Another reason I do not swim in the ocean! I called the Sea Pines gate from a house on the beach and they had someone there in like 30 seconds. You will love HHI! I'm so excited for your visit and I was compiling tips for you. I will send you an email as soon as I have them in coherent form.

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  27. Beautiful post! The east coast is a completely different beast than we have here. I too am ambiguous about travel. The travail of travel is hard for someone my age who remembers airplanes as civilized modes of transportation. We are going on our first ever cruise in a month, on a very small ship to Alaska. Am looking forward to getting tired of eating salmon! We mostly missed crab season here, will have to find some fresh shrimp to do up a la Stephen.

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    1. Thank you so much! You know I can actually get down with cruising. I like the idea of something to look at all the time and a slow pace. and I love getting to know random people very quickly as cruising also offers. If only more ships welcomed my dog and 1-3 others. I don't want to be on a ship full of dogs but Barbie is of course special and perfect. :)
      Did you miss crab season because of that algae thing? I sort of remember hearing that people couldn't do their normal Christmas crab feasts because of a potential hazard in the water. The west coast certainly has breathtaking beauty going for it. I think the Washington coast and the San Juan islands are just stunning. I was much less impressed with California but I was hot and hungry and didn't drink wine yet so I need a do-over. But I can't imagine the traffic has gotten any better. I want to go to Paso Robles for a week and have Hot Flash Homestead give me a tour of the best wineries as she knows them well. And my favorites tend to be Paso cabs. I hope you'll let me know how your cruise goes! You may end up an addict as many cruisers do! My grandpa is campaigning for a 100 day world cruise. too much of a good thing I'd say!

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  28. ON days like today when I got next to no sleep due to a husband stumbling in from a golf dinner and snoring until the cows come up, which make me want to punch myself in the face .. knowing I have get my ass together and join him with spouses tonight.. I can always count on you to make me laugh and be entertained !! I love the images and I can picture your over tanned with pastel or seer sucker , mint julep in hand driving a convertible! Cheers to that! xo

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    1. Haha oh no! I might like golf after all! If there are boozy golf dinners to be had. Though I don't think that "beer girls" on courses have rosé or gin and tonics. lol but I'm a responsible lush and refuse to drive if I've had even a glass of wine.

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  29. Dear Stephen,
    Love this post. Actually all your posts. And you are correct, the comments section is soooo insightful! I told Joan- for the love of a house- how much I love you, and she had also found you. She has you listed now under her blog recommendations! And Janet- the gardener's cottage- I have also followed since her beginning. I agree with Janet- you need to write a book. I wish you blogged daily, you make my {our} day!!! lots of love to you and Barbie, Robin

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  30. Stephen,
    Please give me more info into the mind of a Taurus, as my husband is one and I have yet to figure him out. I attribute much to him being European, but I think much is due to his zodiac sign. Me being a scorpion, makes for a very interesting mix:) I do not blame you for not liking to travel by air, especially in these times. Husband- aviator, me, flight attendant for nearly 30 years!!
    Air travel- yuck. Love, Robin

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    1. Thank you so much, Robin! Oh I am so drawn to scorpios. My most important relationships have been with scorpios but I'm trying to get away from that! Intensity all around. My favorite resource for astrology is Susan Miller who writes at AstrologyZone.com. I love her! She hounded me to start writing a few years ago and I'm so glad she did. Do you still like to travel? Or does working in it scratch the itch and you're glad to be home in your off time?

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  31. Loves. HAPPY BIRTHDAY you crazy kid.

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  32. Oh, Stephen, what a lovely post! Yes, vacation laundry is the best. So colorful. And like a suitcase full of worn postcards you sent yourself! Fellow Taurus here who understands the attraction to one vacation spot and loved reading about yours. So much to take in and have to read it again. Happy birthday!

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    1. Thank you so much! And happy belated birthday to you! I'm sure every sign feels lucky to be their 1/12th of the population but I do think to be Taurus is especially satisfying.

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  33. Hi Stephen, received my Lilly P beach ball in the mail. Although I should give it away because I do not need a beach ball, it has air in it and sits in my home office. It makes me smile- love the Lily P colors.

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  34. Marvelous posting!! We adore drive-to-the-beach vacations -- Hilton Head Island, Ogunquit, Provincetown and Destin -- wonderful spots! Lots of food and shopping and beach of all sorts around each destination -- my kind of ideal vacations!

    Cheers!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  35. Was thinking about you recently when I found a stack of cards you gave me. It's funny, because then I came across this post and I just moved 40 minutes from Hilton Head. I can't wait to visit after reading this!

    Hope you're well.

    Emily

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    1. Emily! So nice to hear from you. I'm jealous! I'd love to live down there and basically always threaten to move. I think of you and your mom whenever I make banana bread! I might be down in HHI in September. I will let you know if I am!

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