Don't go to the Bathroom around 2:40 to 3:00 pm or You May Miss the Eclipse on August 21

Luckily for me, I can count on my husband to keep me in the know on this eclipse thing happening on August 21.  The other night I said, "I heard you need special glasses."

He responded, "I already ordered a four-pack on Amazon."

I said, "What time will it be?"

He said, "I am not sure, but I won't be at work."

I laughed, "So, you aren't going to work late at the office like you do most nights."

He looked at me with that look that only husbands can do. "It's in the afternoon."

I said, "Oh, I thought it was at night."  I kid you not. I did say that as embarrassing as it sounds now. Now, I'm writing it down for all to think I am the biggest idiot on the planet.

But now that I've researched, I told him that the Primland Resort in Virginia was having special events for a week.  We love that place and it has this big huge planetarium, and the astronomy department will guide you through the eclipse. I thought it may get him in the mood to pack his bag, but he ignored me.

Path of the eclipse
Photo from Columbia Tourism 

The world is going crazy for this viewing of two minutes and 36 seconds, I think.  Columbia, South Carolina will have the longest viewing apparently so you all go on ahead and travel down (here's my Book your Hotel Tab filled with my media affiliates. My sites takes you to their site for the best rates.) and see it. I heard rooms are sold out though because the masses are flocking there. Lucky for you. My inbox is filled with travel releases to South Carolina and other states in his path.  I've tried to educate myself on this special day.

Do not go to the bathroom around 2:35 pm or you may miss this viewing window. Hold your pee and put on your glasses. Now that I know it's the daytime, it can be very damaging to the eyes.

If you want to go to Columbia, here's some more information for you.


And if you want to go to the beach, the Pawley's Island area of South Carolina is prepping big time for the viewing. Their viewing will be after Columbia by a few minutes.  This is known as the hammock coast of SC. I don't know about the eclipse, but grabbing a hammock and just seeing this sunset would be amazing. 

Pawleys Island area of South Carolina, known as the Hammock Coast
Photo credit: Hammock Coast Tourism and Austin Bond Photography

At approximately 2:46 p.m. on August 21, the totality of the eclipse will pass over Georgetown, and there will be few better places in America to enjoy the solar event. 

Among the eclipse-related activities that will take place on August 21 in this coastal are:
  • Brookgreen Gardens, one of America’s premier outdoor sculpture gardens, will be hosting a Solar Eclipse Festival. The event will feature live music from Oracle Blue, free eclipse glasses, live streaming of NASA’s coverage of the eclipse as it crosses the USA, and live streaming coverage of the aviary in the Lowcountry Zoo, among other activities. 
  • Rover Boat Tours, a 4.5-star experience, according to TripAdvisor users, is offering a Total Eclipse Cruise, a tour along the smooth inland waters leading to a barrier island where Winyah Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. The view of the eclipse from the water will be spectacular. 
  • The Marshwalk in Murrells Inlet will be hosting Eclipse Day, offering people the opportunity to combine the natural wonder of the eclipse with the beauty of the Marshwalk. 
  • Black River Outdoors, one of the most popular outdoor adventure companies on the South Carolina coast, is providing a Total Eclipse Kayak Tour. While the eclipse will be the star of the show, tour participants will also be able to experience native wildlife including wading herons, egrets and alligators.
  • A special Eclipse Viewing Party at Kaminski House will feature a wedding as the totality of the eclipse passes over. 
  • Parts of historic Front Street in Georgetown will be closed and there will be a DJ playing music, glasses that allow spectators to safely view the event, hydration stations, and multiple places to enjoy the eclipse. The City of Georgetown will also be providing public transportation to Front Street to help alleviate crowding. 
For a complete list of eclipse related events along the Hammock Coast, please visit www.UltimateSPF.com

Sounds like a bunch of people in funny glasses gathering in one place to me. 

In addition to being the first total solar eclipse visible from any part of the contiguous United States since 1979, this year’s eclipse will be the first with the totality of its passing spanning from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic since 1918. 

As for Raleigh, N.C, I have no idea what time to put on those glasses. Some say 2:44 may be the best time. We will see a partial eclipse and not the full shebang.

For me, I will avoid the crowds and either go to our neighborhood pool or my favorite brewery up the street. If I have to wear those silly glasses, I might as well as have a nice North Carolina craft beer and take advantage of my husband not being at the office.

But if you really want to know the truth, I would rather be at the Primland Resort doing some spa treatment. They have nice windows. I can look out the window.


Is the Right Travel Reward Program Card in your Wallet?

Life before kids, I was a member of seven hotel reward programs and two airline programs. I traveled on business more back then plus I planned a lot more personal trips. For one, I had more disposable income and it cost the two of us less to travel than it does now with four people. 

Now I write more about travel than I actually travel with two kids in school nine months out of the year, but I still have reward cards in my wallet.  According to U.S. News and World Report, I have the right hotel reward card in my wallet. 

Renaissance Hotel in Asheville, N.C
Renaissance Asheville, a Marriott Property. Marriott Ranked No. 1 for the best 2017-2018 Best Travel Rewards Program

Marriott gets the top spot in a new study released where they announced the  2017-18 Best Travel Rewards Programs. The annual rankings identify 26 hotel and airline loyalty programs with the most rewarding perks for everyday travelers. Marriott Rewards ranks No. 1 in Best Hotel Rewards Programs, while Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan holds on to the top spot in Best Airline Rewards Programs.

Marriott Rewards is No. 1 among the Best Hotel Rewards Programs due in part to the ease of earning points and its large network of hotels in popular destinations. The program offers complimentary Wi-Fi access and the ability to use points toward booking experiences such as sporting events and concerts. Two years ago, I changed my Marriott card to Ritz-Carlton Rewards, which is my favorite brand. With Ritz-Carlton rewards, you can earn Marriott points at any Marriott hotel, but not always vice-versa.  SPG Preferred (Starwood) which is now owned by Marriott is number 9 on the list, but it believed that Starwood points will eventually merge with Marriott on its point program, making it the largest hotel chain in the world for places to stay. (Side note: I am proud to be a media affiliated with both hotel properties so when you visit their sites from my blog, and book your hotel stay then I earn a small commission to help pay for this blog's expenses. I'm also with hotels (dot.) com and Expedia so you can book any hotel in the world right from my Book Your Hotel Tab now.) 

Out of the top five in hotel card rankings, I only own the No. 4 World of Hyatt rewards. 

Grand Hyatt in Washington D.C. World of Hyatt Ranked No. 4 on the list for best Travel Reward Program

At No. 2, on the list Wyndham Rewards continues to earn high marks for ease of earning a free night, member access to reduced room rates and the availability to earn points through two affiliated credit cards.

Soon to merge with the Virgin America Elevate program, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is the Best Airline Rewards Program for the third consecutive year. Its mileage-based earning structure makes it easier for travelers to earn miles at a faster pace than with revenue-based earning programs. Delta SkyMiles moves up to the No. 2 spot because of its competitive redemption rates for award flights and diversity of benefits, such as using miles for hotels stays, cabin upgrades, experiences and free flights.

"Today's travelers have so many rewards programs to choose from, comparing and contrasting them based on your specific needs can be a challenge," said Christine Smith, associate travel editor at U.S. News. "Our Best Travel Rewards Programs rankings emphasize the ease of earning points and miles, and redeeming them for free nights and flights, which everyday travelers identify as a top reason to join a loyalty program."

U.S. News ranks the Best Travel Rewards Programs in two categories: hotel loyalty programs and airline frequent flyer programs. The methodologies take into account membership benefits – such as free amenities, program-affiliated credit cards and redeemable experiences – network coverage and a strong emphasis on the ease of earning and redeeming free flights or nights. Additionally, U.S. News factors in property diversity for the Best Hotel Rewards Programs and Airline Quality Rating scores for the Best Airline Rewards Programs.

2017-18 U.S. News Best Travel Rewards Programs

Hotel Rewards Programs                        
1. Marriott Rewards                                    
1. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
2. Wyndham Rewards                                 
2. Delta SkyMiles
3. Choice Privileges                                      
3. JetBlue TrueBlue
4. World of Hyatt                                           
4. Southwest Rapid Rewards
5. Best Western Rewards                                
5. United MileagePlus 

What are the Best Travel Reward Programs

What reward program do you use most?


What Happens when Travel Is Not Perfect and What You Should Do?

Let's face it. As much as we want it to be, life is not perfect. And that means our travels, too.  So, what is a traveler to do when things don't go quite as planned or as you had hoped? I don't talk too much in this space about bad travel or hotel experiences because I've been really lucky through the years.  In past years, my only real complaints seem to center around the coffee experience in a room. I hate when a coffee maker is not provided and I dislike it, even more, when stirrers are not left in the room. I get so irritated when not enough coffee, creamer or sugar for the guests are in the room either. In the scheme of things though that is just petty stuff. That's not really a big deal.

But, what happens when you plan a family getaway and the pool is closed in the middle of summer and that pool was the only reason you booked in the property in the first place? Or, perhaps you've been sightseeing all day with four kids and you go to check into your hotel and room is still not ready one hour after check-in and it's 5:00 pm. What if the room is dusty? What if the bathroom shower curtain is soiled? What if the entire hotel is just a mess?

What happens when travel is not perfect and what should you do?

Our vacations or even short one-night getaways are events we look forward to and have spent our hard-earned money for us to go.  As travelers, we all expect a few basic things when we stay in a hotel. When those basic things are not met, you need to complain, but still be respectful to staff.

That's what I did. All of the above mishaps are a true story and it happened to me and my friend on our annual kid's getaway in June. I can't complain about the coffee because the room was so dusty that I was afraid to use the coffee maker.

There is no need to bash a hotel chain because it is was just one property.  But folks, TripAdvisor doesn't lie. In some ways, I could kick myself in the butt for not taking my own advice and reading up on TripAdvisor before I booked this Double Tree by Hilton waterway property in New Bern, N.C. But, we needed the location. We liked the pool, loved being on the water and this particular hotel had the best room set-up of connecting rooms that met our needs.

New Bern Waterfront
The New Bern water-front is beautiful

This was my friend's first introduction to this hotel brand. Needless to say, she was not impressed.  I've stayed in this brand before and this is certainly not the norm. No, this is not a luxury hotel, but even with three-star properties, cleanliness and efficiency need to be priorities.
The staff could not help the pool situation. That is not their fault. It was a huge inconvenience for every traveler there. Had I known in advance, we may have canceled. In the hotel's defense, they did arrange transportation to a local YMCA that closed at 7 pm if we wanted the service.  Going to a Y pool is just what two Moms want to do when they pay over $300 for two rooms for one night for a quick getaway.

Yes, we want to lug across town to a pool that will close almost as soon as we get there. Never mind that we all wanted to enjoy a restaurant downtown then have the kids swim later in the evening when we were back to the hotel for the night. We had visions of the kids swimming after dinner while we sat poolside on the water sipping on a cocktail. I had already picked out my chairs below.

The DoubleTree by Hilton in New Bern was closed on our trip and has continued to be closed a lot this summer.
The pool was closed during our stay and has been closed a lot this summer. Not sure if it is back open or not. 

Front desk staff cannot help that the room is not ready.  But, hotel check-in is at 4 p.m. Rooms should be ready. And when rooms are ready, they should not be dusty. The entire hotel needs a renovation. Staff can't help that the tubs are peeling, the shower curtain is stained and the wallpaper is old, but they still have a responsibility to do a good job with cleaning.

Is there a positive in this story at all?

Yes, the beds were comfortable and we ended up sitting by the waterway in the evening which was nice. We were able to walk to dinner with ease.  We also enjoyed many aspects of New Bern that I will share with you later.

Plus, our kids enjoyed being together. This was our 5th year of taking an annual trip. We have had some good ones through the years. Even though this one was not perfect, being together was still fun.

Kids in New Bern property

The manager knew I wasn't happy when I kept going downstairs to check to see if my room was ready. Only one of the two were ready at 5:30 p.m. My friend was really irritated. We had unhappy kids. The desk manager asked what she could do to make this hotel fiasco up to us. I asked for complimentary breakfast for all of us. It, at least, saved us $60.

What would you ask for if you had been in our shoes?


Healthy Recipe: Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Cherries

Cherries. They are sweet with a bit of tartness. They are filled with health benefits.  Life is perfect with a bowl of fresh cherries.

Fresh cherries are summer fruits and are in season late June, July and August.

At least my daughter thinks so. She has eaten so many fresh cherries this month that I've lost count. They are filled with fiber and powerful antioxidants. It's a food that I am glad she is eating.

Most cherries are grown in our Northwest state.  More than likely, what you find in your grocery store will be from this part of the country.

The Northwest is known for seven varieties including Bing cherries, the most popular cherry in North America, and the unique golden-blushed Rainiers. Other popular varieties include the deep juicy sweet Tietons and heart-shaped Chelans on the shelves now, and late-season Lapins, dark Skeenas, and bright red Sweethearts. Aside from the light-hued Rainier (and its many sub-varieties), consumers can typically spot sweet cherries by their darker red skins – in general, the darker, the sweeter. Fresh cherries should be kept in a tightly sealed bag or container and will keep for approximately two weeks when refrigerated. Rinse just before eating for best longevity.

I used Chelans from Washington for this healthy recipe. They were dark, sweet and delicious.

You could use this dish as a vegetarian entree or a side dish.  Once I prepared it, I ate it a lot for a late breakfast or lunch.  Liza,  my daughter, would not eat this. She continued to eat her cherries plain.

Healthy side dish or entree with quinoa and fresh cherries

Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Cherries 


1 cup of quinoa cooked in vegetable or chicken broth
fresh basil
20 fresh cherries, quartered and pitted
15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Green onions (optional)
1 tablespoon of white wine or white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan Pink Salt or more as needed
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
Crumbled Feta Cheese

Prepare quinoa as directed. Once quinoa is ready, combine all ingredients except feta cheese in mixing bowl.  Add additional salt or pepper to your taste. Once mixed, serve in bowls and top with feta cheese.


When eating leftovers, I reheat in the microwave and eat in warm.

Easy recipe using cherries.

To learn more about cherries, visit www.nwcherries.com

Disclosure: NWCherry Growers Association sent me several bags of cherries to taste at no cost to me to help showcase the cherry season. The recipe is my own. My mom said the only thing she liked in it was the cherries. She's not a fan of quinoa. 


Included with Hotel Stay:The Hyatt Brand Elevates the Breakfast Experience for Guests with Customized Parfaits and Breakfast Bowls

Fresh ingredients in Breakfast Bowls at Hyatt Properties
All photos in this post supplied by Hyatt and Getty Images

When families book hotel stays, many parents choose hotels that provide a complimentary breakfast for guests. Business travelers also keep their company travel expenses in check by choosing business hotels that offer breakfast. Bottom line, complimentary breakfast in hotels saves the guests money.

I've heard from readers in the past saying they don't always eat breakfast in the hotel because the hotel breakfasts are usually not very good in this select-service market.  Some say they would rather explore the area they are visiting by dining in local restaurants.  However, to many travelers, hotel breakfasts are convenient and for many, it is a morning necessity. The Hyatt brand wants its guests to enjoy its complimentary breakfast and are taking it up a notch by offering a new innovative breakfast experience that puts the power of breakfast in guests’ hands with customizable Build Your Own Breakfast Bowls and Greek Yogurt Parfaits.

Customized Breakfast bowls at Hyatt Place Hotels

I've stayed in both Hyatt Place and Hyatt House and on those stays, I thought the brand did breakfast service well.  When we were redoing our hardwood floors in our Raleigh home before putting it on the market to sell, I spent three nights at the Hyatt Place near the PNC Arena. The kids and I looked forward to breakfast each morning. It saved us money plus I didn't have to cook breakfast. 

Expanding on the “You’ve Come Too Far to Settle Now” platform, the Hyatt Place, and Hyatt House brands are inspiring guests to elevate their on-the-go routine with convenient dining choices that flex to meet their needs. The new Hyatt Place “Build Your Own” complimentary breakfast reminds guests not to settle when it comes toy the most important meal of their day. With the customizable breakfast bowls and Oikos® nonfat Greek yogurt parfaits, guests are sure to find the right balance to fit their morning routine – from premium ingredients, such as cage-free eggs and all-natural bacon and sausage, to more indulgent ones, including a warm caramelized banana yogurt topping.

Customized Yogurt Parfaits at Hyatt Place Hotels

Now available at Hyatt Place hotels across the United States and Canada, uniquely themed breakfast bowls and Greek yogurt parfaits are offered throughout the week to add variety for guests.

·         Classic American Bowl: Cage-free eggs, all-natural bacon or sausage, and a sweet side of pancakes or waffles (available Saturday-Monday)
·         Southern Comfort Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with southern skillet potatoes, sausage gravy and hot sauce (available Tuesday)
·         Little Italy Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with roasted Parmesan potatoes, all-natural sausage links and tomato bruschetta (available Wednesday)
·         California Dreamin’ Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with ancient grain and kale blend, all-natural bacon and avocado salsa (available Thursday)

California Dreaming Bowls at Hyatt Place Hotels

·         Burrito Bowl: Cage-free eggs topped with roasted corn and black beans, oven-roasted sausage and potatoes, salsa and lime crema (available Friday)
·         Bananas Foster ParfaitOikos® nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt topped with bananas Foster compote and caramel (available Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
·         Tangy Berry Bliss ParfaitOikos® nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt topped with berry compote and French toast croutons (available Tuesday and Thursday)

The launch of these new breakfast offerings was celebrated with the first-ever #WhySettle Battle of the Breakfast Bowls cooking contest at Hyatt Place New York/Midtown-South. Hosted and judged by Katie Lee, American cookbook author, host of Cooking Channel’s Beach Bites and co-host of Food Network’s The Kitchen, the cooking contest invited five student chefs from the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) to create the next iteration of the Hyatt Place Build Your Own Breakfast Bowls – in under 30 minutes! Submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges including Lee; Chef Mark Krystopa, director of culinary operations for Hyatt Place and Hyatt House; and Ksenia Avdulova, founder of @BreakfastCriminals, a digital platform dedicated to starting your day right.

Culinary Student Brooke DiResta created the Nomad Bowl. It will be on Hyatt Menu in 2018

The winning breakfast bowl, The Nomad Bowl, created by Brooke DiResta, featured premium ingredients including; soft-boiled cage-free egg, toasted ancient grains with kale, sausage crumbles and charred lemony asparagus ribbons. In addition to winning the coveted title of #WhySettle Breakfast Bowl Champion, Brooke also received USD $10,000 to continue pursuing her culinary passion  Brooke's winning bowl will appear on the 2018 Hyatt Place Build Your Own Breakfast Bowls menu.

Alongside the new breakfast experience at Hyatt Place hotels, Hyatt House hotels also recently introduced the new “Omelet of the Day,” enhancing the current made-to-order Omelet Bar by giving guests daily breakfast inspiration while on the road.

Omelet of the Day bar is available at Hyatt House

Additionally, the Hyatt Place and Hyatt House brands introduced new for-purchase menus in Knowing that traditional meals are evolving and consumers are changing their eating habits, the two brands incorporated new bar bites and shareable items into their menus, including street tacos, charcuterie boards, crafted sliders and more.

“Our guests are at the center of everything we do. We know they are looking for meals with high-quality ingredients and we want to be able to give them the opportunity to customize their dining options so that we can make every visit – from a one-night stay to a week – feel personalized and unique,” said Chef Mark Krystopa, director of culinary operations for Hyatt Place and Hyatt House.

Breakfast Bowls are part of your hotel stay at Hyatt Place

Visit our Book your Hotel tab plan your next stay so you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast from Hyatt. 

Disclosure: Affiliate links are in post


#OutaboutNC Family Adventure Idea: New Zip Line Adventure now Offered in Blowing Rock, N.C.

High Gravity Zip Line Adventure in Blowing Rock,NC

High Gravity Adventures, an aerial adventure park in Blowing Rock, N.C.opened a new Zip Line Tour on July 1, 2017 adding to the park’s aerial ropes courses, Ninja Ground Course and Giant Swing. Guests, age 11 and up with a minimum of 75 pounds in weight, can now enjoy a full day of high-flying, family-friendly fun in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.

High Gravity Adventures’ new Zip Line Tour takes guests on an exhilarating ride high above the forest floor through the trees of the North Carolina mountains. Adventurers will fly over scenic ravines as they make their way through a series of zip lines and a swinging sky bridge, the culmination of which is a 1000-foot line that propels guests directly above the trestle bridge at nearby Tweetsie Railroad. The experience ends with a heart-pumping 70-foot free fall.

“With the addition of this new Zip Line Tour, High Gravity Adventures has become the ultimate adventure destination in the High Country,” said Carson Rivers, Vice President of High Gravity Adventures. “Our new Zip Line Tour offers an experience unlike anything else around. Starting from our treehouse, guests will soar through a forest wonderland, take in beautiful views, cruise over the Tweetsie Railroad trestle bridge, and culminate in an exhilarating 70-foot free fall through the middle of our existing adventure course. With this addition, guests can now spend the whole day at our aerial adventure park zip lining, climbing, balancing and swinging to their hearts’ content.”

High Gravity Ropes Course

Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Boone and Blowing Rock, N.C., High Gravity Adventures is a family-friendly adventure park that is ideal for adults and children alike. Guests can combine the Blue Ridge Course, three-person Giant Swing, and the new Zip Line Tour to create “The Ultimate Adventure” for only $89. Zip Line Tour will also be available as an exclusive stand-alone experience. High Gravity Adventures also offers aerial experiences for those that like to keep their feet a bit closer to the ground, with challenges of varying difficulty levels ranging from 15 to 50 feet in the air. The park offers something to please everyone, from adults to teens and children as young as four-years-old, and all activities utilize state-of-the-art safety systems and the latest technology.

High Gravity  Three Person Swing

Boone, N.C. is home to Appalachian State University and ski resorts in the winter. I personally love this area in North Carolina and have visited the area many times. These are some of my older and popular posts on for this area. I have stayed at the Mast Farm Inn, the Courtyard by Marriott in Boone, and at the Chetola Resort. 

High Gravity Adventures also has three hotel partners they are recommended by them.
Country Inn and Suites  and others. This area has lots of hotels for your budget. Go to my Book a Hotel Tab to book your adventure.

Adventures in Blowing Rock, NC

Post contains affiliate links.


A Summer Shrimp Recipe that your Whole Family will Love

A shrimp pasta dish that the entire family will love

In the summer, I don't like to cook too much. And when I do cook, I want to cook a very easy recipe. Also, cooking for my family is not easy. Will will eat most anything I place in front of him. Liza is a carnivore. and seafood lover. She would do well on a paleo diet, but losing candy would kill her.

Jack, on the other hand, prefers his food in a restaurant.  There are only a few things that I make that gets his thumbs up. He still loves my broccoli, tofu meal and last week, I managed to make some darn good farmer's market butter beans that got his seal of approval. Other than that, he pretty much dislikes most items I place in front of him unless it is bacon, eggs, pancakes, steak, plain pasta, a stir-fry, tacos, or a Joey burger,

The other night, I made a Hello Fresh meal that everyone loved. I've been a Hello Fresh customer for awhile. I don't get meal kits delivered every week, but the convenience really helps me. If you have never tried Hello Fresh and would like to, email me because I have four free trials to send to friends.

This recipe was so good that I will replicate it on my own, and may even cook it on our extended family vacation this August.

Shrimp with Butterfly Pasta. Delicious.
A Hello Fresh Recipe

I think the panko crust on top of this dish made it even more delicious.

20 ounce
1 unit
2 clove
12 ounce
2 unit
Red Bell Pepper
0.5 ounce
0.5 cup
2 teaspoon
Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoon
Olive Oil*
4 tablespoon


Wash and dry all produce. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Zest lemon until you have 1 tsp zest, then cut into halves. Cut one half into wedges. Mince or grate garlic. Thinly slice basil leaves. Core, seed, and thinly slice bell peppers.

Toss bell peppers on a baking sheet with a large drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast in oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Melt 2 TBSP butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add panko and toast, stirring, until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Once water is boiling, add farfalle to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just al dente, about 9 minutes. Scoop out and reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.

While pasta cooks, heat a large drizzle of olive oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Rinse shrimp and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add to pan and cook, tossing, until almost opaque, 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, tossing, until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Toss pasta and bell peppers into pan with shrimp. Add lemon zest, 2 TBSP butter, half the basil, pasta water, and a squeeze of lemon. Bring to a boil and let bubble, stirring occasionally until a sauce has formed, 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon (to taste).

Divide pasta between bowls. Sprinkle with panko and remaining basil. Top with a large drizzle of olive oil and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

One-Pot  shrimp

Disclosure: Not sponsored. I do have four free box trials and a referral link like any regular customer. I loved this recipe. 


NC Lawmakers Consider a Brunch Bill that Would Benefit the Hospitality Industry #FreetheMimosa

Update: This bill was passed and signed into law by Governor Cooper. In N.C. as of July 1, 2017 you can have an alcoholic beverage with Sunday brunch beginning at 10 a.m. 

As I told you earlier this week, my family rarely goes to brunch unless I'm traveling. I went to brunch locally a few weeks ago on a Sunday in downtown Raleigh and ordered a bloody mary. I ordered that drink for a few reasons. Personally, I love the tomato-based, spicy cocktail. I rarely drink them so it was a treat for me. Also, mimosas and bloody marys are a traditional part of a brunch menu. I was at Pizza La Stella to help promote the restaurant's brunch menu for future visitors to N.C.  That's what I do. I market experiences.


I rarely drink an alcoholic beverage during the day. But, if I'm traveling then I escape the ordinary. My travel days become extraordinary and special. Had I arrived at brunch before noon that Sunday, I could not have ordered a mimosa or bloody mary due to ABC Beverage laws until 12:01 p.m. But, that could change if a new law is passed. The North Carolina Brunch Bill is a pending legislation that would empower local governments to allow restaurants to serve alcoholic drinks two hours earlier, at 10 a.m., on Sundays. HB 460, otherwise known as the Brunch Bill, would update North Carolina’s existing ABC laws to provide a high-demand service to the state’s residents and visitors.

Bloody Mary

North Carolina's hotel and restaurant caters to travelers. By allowing alcoholic beverages to be sold at 10 a.m on Sunday for brunch would increase revenue tremendously for this industry. 

Blue laws, banning certain things on Sunday for religious reasons, are quite controversial. And in some cases, it's not just alcohol that is banned. It's also pots and pans. Sometimes, cars. It varies from state to state. 

As a person who encourages visitors to our state, I am an advocate for the hotel and restaurant industry. I like options. If I am dining for brunch at 10 a.m, I may stick with coffee, but I like to be given the choice and freedom to order what I want especially if I am traveling or attending brunch for a special occasion. 

Jim Beley, the General Manager of the Five-Star Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina offered some insight from the hotel industry. 

Exterior of Umstead Hotel and Spa

"I think our Sunday morning meal period volume would pick up significantly if we were permitted to start alcohol service at 10 a.m. instead of 12 noon. What I see as fair within the bill, is counties can opt-in to the Sunday service of alcohol if they choose to do so. I am a Christian man, who would not think of drinking any alcoholic drink or meal prior to my attending our Church services on Sunday morning. I think most feel the same as I do; if your intent is to attend and worship in Church, no drink will stop you."

Beley says that many of the guests of the Umstead are out of state visiting for a family occasion of a graduation, wedding, Easter or special day. He says these guests are often disappointed to hear that they cannot serve any alcohol until 12:01 pm. 

The wedding industry has the biggest impact on the restaurant's Sunday volume. He stated,  "most weddings are held on Saturday nights followed by a Sunday morning meal for the family. We are regularly asked why we cannot offer Bloody Marys or Champagne and orange juice with their Sunday meal; some respond with “that’s ridiculous.”

Exterior of Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge

The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge in Charlotte, N.C. also supports the NC Brunch Bill. "Our top priority is to deliver exceptional service to our guests, many of which visit us from out of state, and we want to meet their needs," stated Peter Grills, General Manager. "The ability to serve alcohol earlier on Sundays would provide more options for our guests, which is always a benefit."

The NC Brunch Bill will Free the Mimosa.

What's your opinion? To ‘Free the Mimosa’, stand behind the Brunch Bill by signing the petition at www.ncbrunchbill.com and spreading the word to reach NCRLA’s goal of 10,000 signatures. You can also join the conversation on social media by using #FreeTheMimosa.

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