Dinner on the Beach: IG Photo of the Week from Marco Island

At my daughter's dance class this week, a classmate's mom told me she had recently vacationed at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club, and Spa. She gave it rave reviews.

She also told me she thought of me while she was there, and wanted to tell me about the hotel as soon as she got home. That makes me giddy. I always love to hear that my writing and love for hotels inspires others to think of me when they are traveling.

I've had drinks at this particular hotel, but have never stayed there. I like Marco Island and would love to go back with the family. I also fell in love with Naples, too. My friends were married on Marco Island in 2004 so it's been awhile since I've been to the area.

Once I left dance class, I immediately went to see if the hotel had an Instagram account. This week's IG photo is courtesy of the @MarcoMarriott IG account.  The hotel has a great account.

"How dinner on the beach should be done. .#dinnerOnthebeach #wineanddine #beachfront#sunset #romantic #florida #whitesandybeaches"

OK. That photo makes me want to have dinner on the beach. How about you? They also have a good coffee photo, and good drink photos. You know I love that.

Link up with us this week. If you don't have a blog, just use the hashtag #IGTRAVELThursday on your photos on Instagram.

Recipe: Southern Potluck Potatoes for a Crowd

Is there anything better than a Southern potluck?

I always overeat. How can you not?

The great Southern Potluck : Potluck Potatoes for a Crowd Recipe

I have a lot of international folks who follow me on Instagram. It’s my connection to Skimbaco Lifestyle since it’s an international magazine with a lot of European influence, plus Katja, the founder,  is also living in Sweden right now.  We also have a few other team members living in London and Norway.

I’m the only Southern girl in the Skimbaco bunch. And I fill my feeds with fattening desserts and such. I don’t show myself often in my photos, and I’m probably giving off the impression that I wobble when I walk after eating so much.   Sometimes, I do.

On Saturday evening, I showed a photo on Instagram from a yearly neighborhood function and said, “One must always save room for dessert at a Southern Pig Picking.” I really should have written “Pickin,” but I knew auto-correct would go bonkers over that one, and I would probably end up with “Pig picnic” in the caption instead.

The Great Southern Potluck: Potluck Potatoes for a Crowd

One of the first questions was, “What is a Pig Picking?”

I tried to describe it like a luau, and we call it BBQ.  In the South, BBQ is such a noun.

My neighbor makes some of the best BBQ I’ve tasted.  And I get around.

But more than anything, I love all the sides and desserts.  They really force you to get out of your food comfort zone and try different things.

There is nothing else on earth like the good, old Southern potluck.  Where else can you get two different types of baked beans, several versions of potato salad and other potato dishes (I made “Potluck Potatoes for a Crowd” from my favorite Edenton cookbook), and as the potluck has evolved through the years, even kale and quinoa are now making appearances on the community table.

No matter how many sides you put on your plate, you must save room for dessert.  It’s the cardinal rule of Southern potlucks. Where else can you have a brownie, a “Pig Pickin” cake, coconut cake, and poundcake on your paper plate all at one time, and it doesn’t cost you a thing?

Yes, I did. Are you kidding me? I will never pass up homemade, Southern poundcake. My only regret is that I didn’t take a piece to go, and I would have had it for breakfast the next day.

The Great Southern Potluck: Poundcake

I overeat at the neighborhood potluck every single year.  The scales tell me so.

My neighbors have been doing this wonderful party for 17 years, and when they first started it, their kids were probably my children’s ages now.  Now, kids in this neighborhood are graduating from college.
It just shows you that life moves way too fast.  Retired couples are putting their homes on the market, and newlyweds are moving in.

There will soon be a whole new generation to enjoy this family’s “pig pickin.”

Thank God for Southerners and their potlucks. Life wouldn’t be the same without them. 

I always take this dish because it's just so easy. 

Adapted from: Take the Tour: For a Taste of Colonial Edenton

Great Potatoes for a Crowd Dish

32 ounces of frozen hashbrowns
1 cup sour cream
1 10 1/2 ounce cream of chicken soup
12 ounces grated Cheddar Cheese
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let potatoes unthaw a little. Combine potatoes, sour cream, soup, and cheese. Top with breadcrumbs and drizzle with butter. Bake for 45 minutes. 

Win two tickets to 25th Annual Oakwood Garden Tour and Tea on May 3

I love the neighborhood of Oakwood in Downtown Raleigh. The homes have so much charm.You'll find Victorian, Queen Anne, and Second Empire style architecture as you meander through the streets. The neighborhood is also the home for the North Carolina Governor's Mansion. 

Every spring, the Oakwood Garden Club hosts the annual Oakwood Garden Tour and Tea. This year, the tea will be held at the recently renovated Merrimon-Wynne House on Saturday May 3 and Sunday, May 4.  I am excited to giveaway two tickets to the Saturday, May 3 seating at 12:00 p.m. 

Tours begin with a seated tea featuring vintage china and hand-selected teas, provided by Tin Roof Teas, to complement the sweet and savory edibles provided by 18 Seaboard, Capital Club 16, The Cupcake Shoppe Bakery, Empire Eats, Kimbap Café, Posh Nosh Catering, Inc., Side Street Restaurant, Quality Grocery, and Yellow Dog Bread Company. The tea will last approximately one hour, and guests are invited to wear their best hats.

You will then enjoy a neighborhood stroll while gathering endless ideas for annual and perennial gardens. Tours include short and long options for touring some of Historic Oakwood’s most beautiful sites and nearby spaces.

Oakwood neighbors will provide insight on the neighborhood’s history and unique garden features. All Attendees are encouraged to wear comfortable walking shoes. 

The two-day event has been expanded to accommodate up to 400 guests. Tickets are sold by seating time and are only available in advance. This event helps support the Oakwood Garden Club's beautification, preservation, and community service projects. The Oakwood Garden Club was formed by residents in 1950 and is Raleigh’s first and oldest garden club. 

Tickets for the garden tour and tea are $30 and are only sold in advance. Ticket times include 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 3 and Noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 4. The tea seating time options will be based on availability at time of advance ticket purchase. Visit www.historicoakwood.org for tickets and details.

You have the opportunity to win two tickets to the Noon seating on Saturday, May 3. This giveaway will have a short window, and a winner will be drawn at random on Wednesday, April 30. 

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Now that's a Cookie! IG Photo of the Week from Primland Resort

This week, I'm sharing something sweet. I was AMAZED at the size of the cookies given nightly at turn down at the Primland Resort in Dan of Meadows, Virginia. I joked on my personal Instagram account, "It's the size of my head."

From the LeighPHines Instagram Account

I let the kids nibble on the cookie a little in the morning. One can't have a true luxury hotel stay without bending some diet rules. Cookies before breakfast? Sure.

The Primland Resort will be my next "Pack Your Bags" feature on the blog. Look for that story next week. What's been your favorite amenity at a hotel.

Link up with us this week. If you don't have a blog, just use the hashtag #IGTRAVELThursday on your photos.

Southern Chat: TASTE the Event plus Sweet Baby Birds at the Hines

Durham and Chapel Hill are about to put the spotlight on its culinary scene. This Thursday, I cannot wait to attend The Grand TASTE Experience at DPAC in Durham, N.C. It's going to be three solid hours of sipping & savoring samples of chef offerings, pastries & sweets, wines, local craft beers, spirits & coffee.  A lot of my favorite chefs and brewers will be there plus I look forward to discovering new favorites, too. Also, part of the proceeds from from ticket sales will be donated to the Durham Branch of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina (Food Bank).

TASTE the Event in Durham and Chapel Hill

TASTE the Event is a five-day foodie celebration sponsored by Durham Magazine and Chapel Hill Magazine. There will be lots of special dinners, and fun for the entire family from April 23-April 27. 

Tickets are still available for the Grand TASTE experience. HineSight Blog readers can use the code: TASTESponsor10 for a 10 percent discount when purchasing tickets

Tickets are limited to the other scheduled events, but when I checked in with organizers they did tell me that tickets are definitely available for the Grand TASTE Experience, the Drinks and Desserts Reception at Piedmont, and the Gospel Brunch on Sunday at the Carolina Inn. 

If you go to the Grand TASTE experience, be sure to tweet me @hinessightblog and perhaps I can pop over to say hello. You're likely to find me at the TOPO Distillery booth. Esteban McMahan knows how to make some good cocktails. 

And finally, I want to leave you with a little photo I captured from my foyer steps. We have baby birds. I've not been able to view them yet, but I saw daddy bird feed them this morning. The mama bird gets a little nervous when we move around in our foyer area. That's her guarding the nest as soon as she heard me. 

Baby Birds

Have a blessed Easter! 

Win Two Tickets to See Sandy Duncan in N.C. Theatre's "Driving Miss Daisy"

Actress Sandy Duncan is coming to Raleigh to star in the N.C. Theatre's Production of "Driving Miss Daisy" which will run May 2-11, 2014 at Fletcher Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. I am giving away two tickets to the matinee performance on Sunday, May 11 at 2 p.m. 

Sandy Duncan has had an illustrious stage career that spans five decades, making her debut performance at age 12 in The Dallas Summer Musicals’ production of The King and I. She earned rave reviews with her starring role in the Broadway revival of Peter Pan. 

Sandy is widely recognized for her television roles such as in The Hogan Family and an iconic string of ads as the Wheat Thins Spokesperson.

Driving Miss Daisy, written by Alfred Uhry in 1987, is a story about the relationship between an elderly white Southern Jewish woman, “Daisy Werthan,” and her black chauffeur, “Hoke Colborn.” Winner of the Putlizer Prize Award, and an Academy Award- Winning film, the story explores race relations set in the backdrop of the inequality and civil unrest of the American south in the late 1940’s. The play originally opened off-Broadway on April 15, 1987 and has since been performed around the world. 

For tickets to NC Theatre’s productions, visit www.NCTheatre.com or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Also coming up this season: Disney’s The Little Mermaid July 29 – Aug. 3, 2014.

Enter to win two tickets to the May 11 performance at 2 p.m.

A winner will be selected at random on  4/28/2014.

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Cocktails and Fridays on the Front Porch at the Historic Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC

One of my favorite local luxury hotels is The Carolina InnI know. I have lots of favorites in North Carolina, but all my luxury hotels are truly different in the area, and all offer something exceptional and unique. The Carolina Inn is a beautiful, historic, antebellum-styled hotel in the heart of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus. When spring rolls around, it's the perfect place for drinks on the porch.

Cocktails and Fridays on the Front Porch at the HIstoric Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC

The popular Fridays on the Front Porch is a great way to enjoy the Inn as a local.  Every Friday, there is live music with a different band, and Crossroads Chapel Hill, the Inn's restaurant, offers picnic offerings and drinks for a per person charge.

Chapel Hill is about 45 minutes from Raleigh with traffic, but I am going on a Friday when the kids aren't in school.

The black and white hallway at the Carolina Inn is classic Southern
@Hinessightblog Instagram Account 

One of my most popular Instagram photos came from the Carolina Inn when I was there last fall to see some of the new renovations.

afternoon tea at the Carolina Inn

The Inn is truly a special place to have afternoon tea, too. The Spring Afternoon Tea is served in the lobby Thursday through Sunday and features The Carolina Inn’s popular floral teas such as Carolina Blueberry and Vanilla Apple Hibiscus. Tea service includes a variety of savory tea sandwiches, assorted sweets and chocolates, followed by a grand finale of warm scones served with fresh lemon curd, English Devonshire cream and jam.  And take it from me, the scones are good. 

The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC
The exterior of The Carolina Inn 

The Inn is also in its busy bridal season. My friends at Southern Bride and Groom told me that the venue probably does more weddings than any venue in the Triangle. The Inn completed a fabulous guest room and ballroom renovation last year. I've attended two weddings at the Inn. 

And if you're going to the Inn for any reason then do Valet Parking.  It's worth it. Parking is not easy to find in Chapel Hill. It can be done, but be prepared to walk. 

The Carollina Inn in Chapel Hill, NC hosts Fridays on the Front Porch in the Spring and Summer. Craft Cocktails are also a staple at the Inn.

My thanks to Flooring By Design, a hardwood flooring installation company located in Durham, NC for being a blog sponsor and for keeping me at my desk writing and OutaboutNC. 

Southern Chat: Hot Dogs and Milkshakes in North Carolina's "Mayberry"

On the way back from the Primland Resort, I stopped in Mt. Airy, North Carolina for a quick lunch.

Mt. Airy, N.C. (also known as Mayberry)
Mt. Airy, N.C.

Mt. Airy is special in my home state because it is the late actor, Andy Griffith's, hometown. The fictional town named "Mayberry" from The Andy Griffith Show, is based on this mountain town near the Virginia border.

Tourists come in the bus loads to experience a little bit of the South's "Mayberry."  And just like in Mayberry, residents sit on the side of the street, and time does seem a little bit slower.

HinesSight Blog Travels to Mayberry (Mt. Airy, N.C.)
Just like in Mayberry, Mt. Airy, N.C. has a Floyd's Barber Shop

We had lunch at Walker's Soda Fountain.. Andy, Barney, and Opie would always go down to the drugstore for ice cream on the TV show, and Andy's girlfriend, Ellie, was a pharmacist in the store.

Hot Dogs at Walker's Soda Shop in Mt. Airy, N.C

In reality, Andy Griffith hung out at Walker's Soda Fountain after school. This store has been a staple in Mt. Airy since 1925.

Owner David Jones has owned the soda fountain for nine years, and he does a great impression of Ernest T. Bass, another crazy character from the show.  While there, he had a table of tourists from Ohio laughing hysterically as he delivered from some past lines from the TV show in Ernest T Bass's twang.

HinesSight  Blog Travels to Mayberry (Mt. Airy, N.C)
Soda Fountain owner David Jones

It' a great place to relive the good, old Southern days of time gone by.

HinesSight Blog Travels to Mayberry (Mt. Airy, N.C.)
My two enjoying a day of hot dogs and ice cream in Mt. Airy, N.C.

I added a little bit of today's times to the experience by ordering a coffee milkshop.  Not sure if coffee milkshakes existed in Mayberry, but they certainly do in Mt.Airy.

Coffee Milkshake at Walker's Soda Shop in Mt. Airy, N.C.
Coffee Milkshake

We only passed through Mt. Airy, but there really is a lot to see including a great Andy Griffith Museum and some TV set replicas. I'm putting Mt. Airy back on my list to explore another time.

Also, it has one of the best toy stores I've seen in quite a long time. Be sure to stop in the Mayberry Toy Company.  For more on Mt. Airy, visit the city's tourism website. 

A View from the Rainy Gap Trail at Primland

I rarely post just one photo and call it a post for this blog, but I've been sick since Sunday night with a stomach virus. I did not want to miss #IGTRAVELThursday for the second week in a row because history is certainly in the making this week. It's exciting because our link-up is now in English, Italian, German, and Finnish. That's really exciting for our @IGTRAVELThursday IG community

My photo this week was taken on property at the Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan, Virginia on April 2. This area is gorgeous. And no, I did not go camping. As you probably expected, I stayed in supreme luxury accommodations surrounded by glorious nature.  And I'm talking about rugged nature filled with hiking trails, streams, and ponds.

The only way I got to see this spectacular view was to drive an ATV up the mountain, through streams, and over rock and stumps. It was a wild ride.

View of Rainy Gap Trail at the Primland Resort
@Hinessightblog on IG

This photo is from the Rainy Gap trail, which is part of Primland's 12,000 acres. In the above photo, you are looking at the state of North Carolina as it is viewed from Virginia.

And just so you know I'm not such a luxury powder puff, here is proof that I drove an ATV.

HinesSight Blog
@Hinessightblog on IG 

I'll have much more on the Primland Resort in my Pack Your Bags feature and on Skimbaco Lifestyle.

Do you have a great Instagram travel story to share? Read the linky rules below and join us this week (but don’t forget to grab our logo {here} and link to at least one of hosts in your post). If you are not a blogger, but have an Instagram account tag your lovely travel moments with #IGTravelThursday. No blog, no Instagram? You can still join in the fun by reading our IG-related travel stories and by giving us some feedback love!  If you want to host the IG Travel linky on your blog so that your readers can easily find our posts, you may use this,  get the InLinkz code.

Southern Chat: Radiant Flowers, Gone Fishin', and What's in my Tote

As I sit down to write a few thing and to tell you hello, I do it with fond memories of my wedding day. It was 12 years ago today that I married Will.  I posted this on my Facebook page this morning,

"12 years ago today at this very same time, my roommate was picking me up from a hair salon in Five Points that had a locked bathroom. He said he would never forget that one mile journey where I was holding my crotch and had a veil on my head attached to a shopping bag yelling, "I have to pee right now." At noon, I married my Prince Charming. Sometimes, he turns back into a frog, but I love him very much."

HinesSight Blog
April 6, 2002

Wow! We look so young, but we weren't really that young.  I was 33 and he was 35. I think kids age people or at least my two children aged us. I know for a fact that we both have a lot more gray hair than we did in 2002. I insisted on that huge bouquet. It was filled with gardenias, roses, freesia, lily of the valley, and it weighed a ton. Happy memories, and I look forward to many more years of memory making.

Spring is all about the beauty of flowers. At Skimbaco Lifestyle, we just finished our second e-magazine called "Radiant Flowers".  The issue is gorgeous, and I hope you read my interview with Chef Johannes Klapdohr of Old Edwards Inn and Spa.

My family just returned from Meadows of Dan, Virginia and the Primland Resort. I wanted to share one quick photo with you. My children fished for the first time, and Miss Diva was the first one to land a trout.

Caught first fish at Primland
Fishing at Primland. 

Primland is gorgeous. I will have more on this resort in the upcoming weeks, but you can view its website to learn more about vacation packages.  

Lifestyle blogger Tina Saib interviewed me last month over coffee at Joule in Downtown Raleigh. She's a UNC-Chapel Hill grad like me.  I helped kick-off her new series, "What's in my Travel Tote?" I'm not used to being in the hot seat. Usually, I do the interviews. If you get the chance, check out the feature. She did a great job.

What's in Leigh Hines' Travel Tote
Learn what I pack in my travel tote

Have a great week. I'll be back Thursday for another hotel feature of IGTRAVELThursday. 

The Duke Lemur Center is in the Spotlight with New IMAX Film

Lemurs are in the spotlight this week. The Duke Lemur Center is celebrating #LemurWeek in conjunction with the April 4 release of the new IMAX 3D film, "Island Of Lemurs: Madagascar". 

Duke Lemur Center in Durham, N.C.
Lemur Week begins in Durham, N.C. 

Filmmaker Drew Fellman, songwriter/singer Hanitrarivo Rasonanaivo and accomplished primatologist, Dr. Patricia C. Wright, flew into Durham to kick-off a week long press junket to coincide with the film's release. Durham's Mayor Pro Tem, Cora Cole-McFadden, officially opened the special week.

Some of Duke's own fat-tail dwarf lemurs had a very small part in the film. They were needed to create the journey to Madagascar millions of years ago. These adorable little lemurs look a lot like the original proto-lemurs so they were cast for a very short scene. and filmed in front of a green screen.

Filmmakers said that when they began filming, these nocturnal lemurs would fall asleep as soon as they saw light. This behind the scenes video gives you some insight on the filming.

The Duke Lemur Center is simply fascinating. Tours are made by appointment and are geared for ages 10 and up, especially in the areas where the lemurs run free in the forest. Since I had my kids with me for this event, we experienced a special behind the scenes tour where staff care for the lemurs. Children under 10 are not allowed in the forest with the lemurs.

Duke Lemur Center in Durham, N.C.

There are so many different varieties of lemurs. I really had no idea. A lot of people are more aware of lemurs because of the animated film, "Madagascar", but the IMAX documentary will truly shine the spotlight on these incredible animals.  I had a hard time getting good photos with them behind the cages, but this one posed for me without any problem.

The Duke Lemur Center houses the biggest population of lemurs outside of Madagascar. They have more than 200 lemurs living there. It's definitely worth a visit to see these endangered species. The Center has several tours available, including one where you can paint with the lemurs.  Also, the check the website for several events during Lemur Week. 

Islands Of Lemurs: Madagascar looks to be an amazing film. It will be playing in Raleigh at the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles. 

Pirate Fairy Meets a Cowfish at North Hills

I took the kids to the press screening of the new Disney movie, "Pirate Fairy" over the weekend.  The movie officially comes out on Blue-Ray and DVD today. I thought it was cute. The little Diva loved it, and I interviewed her after she saw the film for fun. I think she's getting comfortable with the camera. She loved it so much that I may get it for her because it will be great for her to watch in the car on our summer travels.

After the movie, we had lunch at Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar at North Hills for the first time. I've got to say I'm impressed. I had the North Hills roll, and it was so good that it has me thinking about it.

Cowfish North Hills Roll
North Hills Roll at Cowfish Raleigh

It's a busy restaurant, and our wait time was 30 minutes. However, I was told that wait was nothing for a weekend. The average wait time on a weekend night is 2 to 3 hours.

Yeah. It's pretty popular here in Raleigh.

Kid's Bento Box at Cowfish
Great choices for kids. Even picky eaters will be pleased
It has a great kid's entree selection. My son got sushi and loved it. It includes a lot for the price tag of just $6. There is not a separate lunch menu, at least not on the weekends, so lunch would cost the same as dinner. For that reason, I say it is a little pricey for lunch for adults, but a great price for dinner.  My entree was $15. But, with wait times so long in the evenings then lunch may be the best time to experience this restaurant.

HinesSight Blog
My son loved the sushi. I love to see him branch out and try new things. 

The pirate fairy thought the cookies and cream milkshake was the best thing there. I, however, have a thing for the over sized fake food in the decor and in the fish tanks.  I love it.

Fish tank at Cowfish Raleigh
The fish swim around burgers and sushi at Cowfish

There are only two locations in North Carolina: Charlotte and Raleigh. A third Cowfish will be open in Orlando later in the year.

Want to Go:
Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
4208 Six Forks Road, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC

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