Goodbye, Summer. Hello, Grand Strand Plus Other News

Can you believe that we just got home from Virginia, and we’re packing up and taking off again? Our destination is a quick trip to South Carolina’s Grand Strand. We’re staying at MiMa’s cottage, and it’s our last beach trip of the summer. Truthfully, we’re just going down for the fried shrimp and the outlet shopping.  I’m kidding, sort of.

North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Before we go, I wanted to share a few things with you to wrap up the month.

We are officially back in school.  Sleeping in is a thing of the past. I try to be up at 6 a.m. every day. I really need that morning time to sip my tea, and, well, just sit there for 30 minutes.  Afternoons are now rushed.  That time of the day from afternoon pickup to getting dinner on the table is not smooth sailing. I really try to plan meals that are simple and easy. I hope you checked out the four back-to-school meals I shared on Monday. Out of those four, the pasta, broccoli, and tofu meal is the easiest, and is the family favorite.  As a proud mom, I had to share my son's first day in first grade. His little sister didn't want to leave the classroom. She starts preschool next week.  Yea!

I have a first grader.

Speaking of food, I ate like a queen when I was in Roanoke, Virginia, and at the Homestead Resort.  I would hate to count up the calories I consumed in one day, but my attitude is that a vacation is about indulging; not calorie-counting.  You can head over to Skimbaco to get a taste of my indulging habits, and I also have a new favorite craft brew. 

Scrumptious cheesecake at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia

If you are a blogger reading this, then you know that as a blogger you make some fabulous online friends blogging.  People who don’t blog really don’t understand this, but trust me, it happens, and it’s wonderful.  You exchange email pleasantries from time to time, and you catch up with each other by reading your respective blogs.  As you all know, I don’t have much talent other than checking into a luxury hotel, but the DIY bloggers in the blog world are so talented.  You know who they are:  You pin their work on Pinterest like crazy.

Check this baby out!

Sutton Place Designs
My blogging friend Ann of On Sutton Place sent me her handiwork from her Etsy shop in the form of this vintage grain sack tote.  Apparently, I have some luck because I won her giveaway by linking up this post about what a llama taught me aboutblogging.

To see a blogging friend’s own beautiful work was awe-inspiring.  She is so talented.  She gave up her job in education this year to nurture her own business.  She is on her way to a successful year.  The vintage French grain totes are $65.  As the holidays approach, Ann also has some cute items that would make great gifts.  I’m fond of her tea towels and lavender sachets.  If you visit her, please tell her that I sent you. 

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

And for my local Triangle friends, mark your calendars for the First United Methodist Church-Cary 20th Annual Children’s Consignment Sale beginning Friday, September 14-15.  You can find all the details on the sale’s website, and they are still seeking consignors this year.  I just spent $160 at Target on Friday for some basics like socks, underwear, boy’s jeans, toddler Champion sneakers in fuchsia, and some school snacks. Raising children can certainly put a dent in your wallet, so definitely check out the sale if you are in the area.  The proceeds support the church’s missions.

If you are new to this blog, and this post was helpful to you, or if you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you could share it via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It helps others learn about the Hines-Sight Blog, and it is the only way people learn about this blog since I do not advertise.  I also have a Facebook page, and Twitter account, and would enjoy interacting with you there as well.  I am also on Pinterest. 

What's Happening in North Carolina this Fall

I don't know about you, but I'm ready for fall.  In order to help you plan for fun things to do, or perhaps even a trip to North Carolina, I partnered with NC's Tourism Office this week to showcase some of my State's best festivals and events.

With its breaths of fresh air, autumn draws out North Carolina’s festive nature. Every weekend brings events that pick up different wavelengths to celebrate everything from the glorious foliage, the truest blue skies, vivid sunsets and the particulars that impart local color.

Here are some things going on in North Carolina this fall beginning Labor Day weekend through October.  Come see me in the Tar Heel State.  I may be at some of these events myself. 
Aug. 31-Sept. 3
Henderson County, one of the nation’s top apple producers, celebrates the prized fruit with a street fair, orchard tours and other festivities in the mountain town of Hendersonville. Adding colors beyond the apple spectrum are the painted fiberglass bears in the annual Bearfootin’ public art display.

Aug. 31-September 2
Siler City area, Chatham County
Come and see the Antique Tractor Display, Steam Engines in Operation, Grist Mill, Wheat Threshing, Molasses Making, Blacksmithing, Antiques on Display, Restored Farm Tractors, Antique Farm Machinery (some in operation), Antique Cars/Trucks, Corn Shredding, Shingle Mill, Hit and Miss Engines, Rock Crushing, etc., Farm Animals (Horses and Oxen) in working harness on display and in demonstrations during the weekend.  Bluegrass music and clogging. Fun for the entire family. 

Sept. 7-9
Bryson City
Paddlers in neon-colored kayaks test their skill and stamina in an acrobatic display at Nantahala Gorge, which will host 2013’s ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships. The weekend coincides with the sesquicentennial Horace Kephart Days, which honors a champion of Great Smoky Mountains heritage.

Sept. 15
A stone's throw from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Sparta creates an old-style festival for modern times. It features crafts, music and demonstrations in blacksmithing, cornmeal grinding, chainsaw carving, cider pressing and other skills. Stick around for the evening’s entertainment at the Alleghany Jubilee.

Sept. 17-22
Pisgah Mountain
Rugged trails with 28,000 feet of climbing challenge riders amid the waterfalls, creek crossings, rhododendron tunnels and vibrant foliage of Pisgah National Forest near Brevard. The $20,000 cash purse attracts top racers.

Fayetteville's International Folk Festival
Sept. 28-30
FayettevilleSinger Aaron Neville will headline a free concert in honor of the town's 250th Birthday on September 29 in Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville during a special weekend. The International Folk Festival is an annual celebration of the community's diversity.  One of the highlights of the festival is the Parade of Nations.  Around 100,000 people attend each year.
Sept. 29-Oct. 6
Brevard to Carolina Beach
Hundreds of participants cover the state’s geographic and cultural spectrum on Cycle North Carolina’s mountains-to-the-coast ride. Host cities include Lake Lure, Shelby, Matthews, Rockingham, Lumberton and White Lake. Riders can opt for the full run or shorter legs.

Sept. 29-30
Chimney Rock
At prime time during the fall migration, as many as 500 Broadwing hawks might be seen at this iconic site on the North Carolina Birding Trail. Flock to the Rock features guided walks, workshops, photography and other activities and also showcases the park’s newly refurbished trails and modernized elevator.

Oct. 6-7
Beech Mountain
The highest ski resort east of the Rockies once was home to the Land of Oz theme park. Autumn at Oz returns Dorothy and friends to the Yellow Brick Road for a weekend celebration with music, children’s activities and fun on Uncle Henry and Aunt Em’s farm.

Oct. 9-13
Bald Head Island
Croquet balls add pops of color on the Bald Head Island Club greens, where fierce U.S.-British rivals compete for honors. Nature one-ups the display with the golden shimmer of cordgrass in nearby marshes and brilliant sunsets across the autumn sky.

Oct. 13-14
New Bern
Thousands of chrysanthemums in the Tryon Palace gardens delight the eye during New Bern’s lively festival, which fills the waterfront and restored downtown with music, art and roving entertainers. New this year is the triple-deck SeaFair, a 288-foot yacht full of original art, outdoor life exhibits and more.

Oct. 19-21
The Piedmont’s rolling woodlands extend the scenery skyward with 50 hot-air balloons. Events include mass ascensions, an evening balloon glow, competitions, balloon rides and an artisan village. North Carolina’s wines and craft brews can also be sampled.

Oct. 27-28
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, transformed by fall blooms and textured plantings, showcases Halloween specialties such as eyeball plants and bat-faced cuphea. Added treats await in the Orchid Conservatory, which features a 16-foot orchid and waterfall wall.

Nov. 3- 4
Nonagenarian artist Vollis Simpson sets color in motion with his wind-powered whirligigs, the centerpiece of this street festival in Wilson. In 2013, the town will officially open the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park, which will feature 29 of these kinetic collector’s items.

Nov. 6-11, 2012
Outer Banks and Inner Coast
Wondrously varied coastal environments create a kaleidoscope of vivid sights and memorable sounds with migrating birds, howling wolves and changing flora. Festival excursions take visitors to one-of-a-kind sites to explore it all.

Other signature fall events
North Carolina celebrates more than color in September and October. These signature festivals showcase NASCAR, barbecue, music and other claims to fame.

Sept. 6-8
With 175 bands at 15 venues, this showcase of local, regional, national and international talent reigns as a destination music event. Styles include rock, hip-hop, alt-country, metal, dance, punk, classical, noise, drone, folk and some that defy the categories.

Sept. 15
After creating a termite maze, watching roaches race and snipping a Scherenschnitte bug, visitors will be ready for this festival’s pièce de résistance: Café Insecta, where the menu has been known to feature Cricket & Crawfish Jambalaya, Mealworm Maque Choux, and Chirps and Superworm Salsa.

Sept. 20-23
A Southern tradition for more than 50 years, with mule events, rodeos, arts and crafts, street dances and a concert. The festival is a Library of Congress Local Legacy event.

Sept. 27-30
Mount Airy
The recent death of Andy Griffith, who put his hometown on the map as the model for Mayberry, adds a poignant note to the 2012 festival. Expect special tributes from festival entertainers who were associated with “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Sept. 29
The Muscadine Harvest Festival celebrates North Carolina’s native grape at the Duplin Events Center. The event features live music, more than 20 wineries, a cooking contest, crafts, educational seminars and a shag dance contest.

Oct. 5-7
The local-girl-turned-Hollywood-goddess shares the spotlight with Gregory Peck, her friend and co-star in three classic films, at this year's edition of the annual festival presented by the Ava Gardner Museum. The weekend features themed exhibits, heritage tours, screenings and tributes.

Oct. 11-21
One of a handful of fairs that top 1 million in annual attendance, North Carolina’s 11-day event celebrates the state’s agricultural heritage on a 344-acre site that includes Dorton Arena, a 1952 landmark of architecture and engineering.

Oct. 13
Forty-three of the world’s greatest drivers battle for the prestige of winning the only night race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Oct. 18-21
Juried showcase of works created by members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which represents nearly 1,000 craftsmen in nine Southeastern states. Works include fiber, clay, glass, metal, paper, wood and other media from more than 200 exhibitors.

Oct. 27
Lexington’s famous barbecue is the draw at the festival, which features music and other activities plus the unveiling of Childress Vineyards’ 2012 Fine Swine Wine.

This information was provided by VisitNC and local county Tourism Offices.  There are many, many other fun things to do in North Carolina, and I just couldn't list them all here. 

If you are new to this blog, and this post was helpful to you, or if you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you could share it via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It helps others learn about the Hines-Sight Blog, and it is the only way people learn about this blog since I do not advertise. I also have a Facebook page, and Twitter account, and would enjoy interacting with you there as well. 

Simplicity on Monday: Four Quick Meals for Back-to-School Nights

We’re back in school.  My son started first grade today.  That means I need to plan simple meals throughout the week.  By simple, I mean few ingredients, little prep time, and a cooking time under 20 minutes.

Here are four meals that have passed the Hines Simplicity Test and are ready for our menu rotation.

Sloppy Joe Loaves

¾ pound ground beef or turkey                               2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ cup of chopped onion                                          2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 (14 ½ ounce) diced tomatoes                                Italian bread loaf or bread loaves already sliced
1 teaspoon of garlic                                                 1 ½ cups of cheddar cheese

Cook beef, onion, and garlic in a skillet over medium heat.  When no longer pink, drain. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, and vinegar to skillet with meat, stirring constantly, 3 minutes.

Place sliced loaves on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes until toasted. Spread bread loaves with meat mixture, and top with cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes or until cheese melts. This mixture could also work on buns. This recipe was adapted from a Southern Living Cookbook, published in 2003. The original recipe calls for using an entire loaf bread, not slices.

Pita Pizza Pockets

1 cup of pizza sauce                                        1 ½ cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
4 (6 or 7-inch pita rounds, cut in half)               2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Sliced pepperoni

Pita Pizza Pockets
Spread 2 tablespoons pizza sauce inside each pita half.  My pita halves were smaller so I used less sauce. Arrange pepperoni slices inside each half.  Sprinkle cheeses evenly in pockets. Place pizza pockets on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. This recipe is also from the same Southern Living Cookbook that I've owned since 2003.

Pasta with Broccoli and Tofu

This is a family staple in my house. I’ve featured it before on my blog, but I now have a better photo.

Broccoli florets                                                  6 tablespoons of Olive Oil
One package of Extra Firm Tofu                        1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
16 ounces of Bow-Tie Pasta

Pasta with Broccoli and Tofu
Dice Tofu, and cook until brown in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook bow-tie pasta according to directions.  To save time, toss broccoli florets in your boiling pasta water for the last six or seven minutes of boiling.  Drain pasta and broccoli.  Once your tofu is browned, add it to the pasta and broccoli in a large bowl.  Begin to toss the pasta mixture with the remaining four tablespoons of olive oil and parmesan cheese.  Serve in bowls. This recipe was created by me. 

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Bacon, and Feta

This recipe for Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Bacon and Feta can be found in Real Simple Magazine, and it’s now online.  It is from the August magazine, and it’s great.  I could not find a short pasta when I was at Trader Joes so I used rotini and  turkey bacon. I loved it and will make it again.

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Bacon, and Feta

I would give you a fifth meal, but I give you permission to close the kitchen and eat out.

Bon appetite, and I hope everyone has a great school year.

If you are new to this blog, and this post was helpful to you, or if you enjoyed this post, I would love it if you could share it via Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It helps others learn about the Hines-Sight Blog, and it is the only way people learn about this blog since I do not advertise.  I also have a Facebook page, and Twitter account, and would enjoy interacting with you there as well. 

The One Thing As a Mom I Can’t Do Without: Summer Camps

We’re in the last dog days of summer.  The school bell will ring in 3 days.  But who’s counting?

Not me!

And if you believe that, then I need to sell you some oceanfront property in Arizona.

We’ve had a great summer.  I’ve enjoyed some lazy days of not being somewhere by a certain time.

But then some of the days got too lazy.  We didn’t do enough in the day except eat lunch out, and then I realized the kids weren’t tired enough for bed.

It’s a vicious circle.  Damned if you do too much because it feels like so much work, and damned if you don’t do enough because the kids are too rested.

There were a few times in the summer I cursed to myself about having to get across town as early as 9 a.m. to fill three hours of my son’s day with a camp.

What are we going to do with this? 

But as I have learned in the last few weeks before school starts, camps were actually a saving grace for the summer. 

He loved them.

I was particularly fond of the afternoon camps.  Nothing beats a leisurely morning at home and then a busy afternoon for him with new activities and new friends.  That was fabulous!

Every camp he attended became his favorite until the next one, whereas my favorites were based on the ease of pickup and drop-off.  So far, the winner in my book was the one that had a carpool. I didn’t even have to get out of the car.


The only person who really didn’t like camp in the family was the baby sister.  After every drop-off, she would ask, “I go, too?”

She was never really happy with the response.   But next year, baby, next year!

And the thing I learned this summer was that I really need to schedule at least one August camp in order to survive the month.

To help me plan, I’ll be turning to the Carolina SummerCamps. I just discovered this website this week, and boy, is it helpful for planning.  They have camps listed for Cary, Durham, and Raleigh, and other major N.C. cities.

It’s already in my bookmarks.

When you get a little extra time to drink a cup of coffee in peace while your child is out of school, and in a camp, you can thank me later. 

Healthy Ratatouille {Guest Post}

We are having a fabulous time at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.  It is beautiful here. As I frolic by the pool for one last time before school starts, Marguerite from the new blog, How to Lose Belly Fat Fast and Naturally, is sharing her recipe for Ratatouille here today.  I personally love eggplant, but according to Marguerite, eggplant can aid in weight loss efforts, too.  I will need to be eating lots of it when I come home because food here at The Homestead is divine, and I've been indulging. 

Be sure to check out my photos on Instagram, and on the blog's Facebook page.

Is it a holiday for you? Would you feel like experimenting on a new dish and add it your biggest meal of the day? You could try some continental recipe that fetches great nutritional benefits apart from gratifying your palates. Let me entertain you with a recipe which I made harvesting a few eggplants at my backyard.

You would love to learn that Eggplant is a fiber rich vegetable and is helpful in the treatment and prevention of colon cancer. If you prefer avoiding mid meal snacking, eggplant will make you feel fuller and can aid your weight loss effort. If you are concerned with adding body fats and pamper your heart with good cholesterol, I recommend you using olive oil as the main frying ingredient. It is a very good source of monounsaturated fatty acids especially oleic acid. Let me not overload you with all the goodness that this dish can offer you and go directly into the details of this great dish.

Ratatouille is a continental vegetarian recipe combining eggplant, zucchini and colored capsicums (peppers). It forms a main course which requires 15 minutes of preparation time and 20 to 30 minutes of cooking time. This will serve about 4 people. 

Photo Credit: Maura McEvoy 

Healthy Ratatouille

·         3 medium sized Eggplants
·         1 each, Green , Red and Yellow peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces
·         2 medium sized Zucchini
·         2 medium sized Onions, cut into rings
·         3 tablespoons of Olive oil 
·         4 cloves of Garlic chopped
·         1 ½ cups of Tomato concasse  (diced tomatoes)           
·         5-6 Basil leaves , green and purple
·         Few sprigs of fresh Thyme
·         Salt as per taste
·         White pepper, as per taste

Set the oven on preheat mode at 160oC.
It's best to use a flat bottomed pan, because it makes stirring so easy. Once the pan heats up, dribble some olive oil, roughly about 1 ½ tbsp. Let the oil heat, till the aroma of olives wafts in the air. Add the garlic and onion and sauté keeping the flame medium. You will notice that the onions slowly gaining a baby pink hue and the garlic getting transparent. It is overwhelming to see the heady mix of olive oil and garlic. Now, it's time to add the purple hued diced eggplant, the remaining 2 eggplants to be sliced thinly. It is a point to note that the longer variety of eggplant serves well than the rounded ones.
In a grill, roast these eggplant strips which have been coated with olive oil and salt. Roast till they brown and start to give an aroma. Combine the diced zucchini and tomato concasee along with a cupful of water. You will have a colorful concoction of purple, green and red. Adding the herbs, basil and thyme will round off the dish. Dash white pepper powder and combine all.
To serve, transfer the contents into a serving bowl and arrange the red, green and yellow capsicum pieces. Ratatouille with its colorful array of vegetables is bound to titillate your taste buds.The effective combination of eggplant and olive oil inhibits heart diseases and prevents cancer.
Author Bio: Marguerite being a fitness enthusiast loves to blog on fitness and topics related to fitness. You can check out her latest post on How to lose belly fat  on her website.

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