A Travel with Purpose Idea: Bahamas Vacation #Ilovebahamas #BahamasStrong

In between carpool lines, cheer practice, and walking the dog, I start fantasizing about vacations as it gets colder and darker earlier in North Carolina.

Usually, my daydreams start with my picturing a quiet, tropical destination (even though I'm not really a sit-on-the beach type gal) where I see blue waters, white sandy beaches, and refreshing cocktail in my hand. My children are off splashing around because they are at a resort having fun. Will is happy because he paid for all food and drink in advance, so he doesn't have to tally up the food bill every time he charges it to the room. And I'm happy because I'm not doing laundry, or cooking a meal that no one wants to eat.

Ahh, glorious family vacations. Aren't they wonderful?

The truth is family vacations are usually a mess at cetain points when you are experiencing them with your kids. As parents, you probably stated at least one time on that vacation, "With that attitude, we won't be vacationing next year!"

But, you know that is not true. Once you get home, you will only remember the priceless vacation fun. That's what we do.

PLAN a Bahamas Vacation in 2020

As you start vacation planning or even fantasizing about destinations like I do, consider a Bahamas vacation. Hurricane Dorian, as a category five hurricane, was devastating. As someone who lives in a state where hurricanes are frequent, I know first-hand how devasting these storms can be for the economy and tourism in the areas that were hit. It's more important than ever to get those dollars flowing and to let people know that 14 islands are ready for visitors in the Bahamas. In this interactive  Bahama island finder, you can find the most perfect island to visit for your family.

map of the Bahamas with islands open
Photo courtesy of  Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation 

There are many places to donate dollars to help the area, but to choose to help the economy by planning and experiencing a vacation in the impacted area allows you to do even more for the area to help with recovery. From dining in local restaurants to local tour experiences, you are helping the area's economy. 

I traveled to Nassau in 2001 for a wedding with Will. We were not yet married, but Will told me that one night on the island, he wanted to " impromptu propose" to me because the setting was perfection. He, of course, had no ring plus it was someone else's' happy occasion, so he bit his lip and proposed a few months later instead while I was sick with a sinus infection, wearing a sweatshirt and watching Saturday Night Fever.  Maybe we should redo our experience. 

Leigh and Will in Nassau in 2001
July 2001 in Nassau, Bahamas

Eighteen years later, it's hard now to remember trips before kids. However, I remember we stayed an extra day so we could dine at the Graycliff Restaurant, an iconic five-star restaurant in a historic inn that is still in operation today. The base hotel for wedding guests was a Marriott resort, at the time, which I think could be the  Melia Nassau Beach now.

The Graycliff offers even more culinary adventures for travelers to experience.

  • Graycliff Chocolatier Factory – Located in the historic Graycliff Hotel, the Graycliff Chocolatier Factory is The Bahamas’ first interactive chocolate factory. From tasting tours to children’s activities, Graycliff Chocolatier offers something for everyone to experience chocolate in a new way. 
  • Graycliff Culinary Academy – The Graycliff Hotel is also home to the Graycliff Culinary Academy, where visitors can take interactive cooking classes with the hotel’s five-star restaurant’s Executive Chef Elijah Bowe and his team.

  • Graycliff Cigar Rolling – Vacationers can tour the award-winning Graycliff Cigar Company and even take a cigar-rolling lesson with one of the company’s 16 master rollers.

Baha Mar: Pack with Love Initiative 

White Sandy Beach and Gorgeous Baha Mar Resort Complex
Photo courtesy of Baha Mar Resort Media Office 

Baha Mar, developed a few years ago to revitalize the island's Cable Beach, houses three luxury resorts, including the Rosewood, SLS, and the Grand Hyatt. I always told myself that I would stay on Paradise Island when I went back to visit the Bahamas, but now, I'm not so sure. These resorts have my attention, and you all know this whole blog was started because of my hotel obsession.

Post-Hurricane Dorian, this Nassau resort, is offering the Pack with Love program where guests are encouraged to pack an item or two that symbolizes love and comfort for the victims. Articles can include clothing, stuffed animals, baby items, educational items, books, and small toys. Guests will have the opportunity to deliver their items directly to local shelters if they desire. There is also a collection on site. Baha Mar is also home to the Beach Sanctuary at Baha Mar, which is an experience that allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and the wildlife of the Bahamian Islands.

Man swimming with fish

Other resorts in the Bahamas are also offering special incentives to help you get there to visit and plan a vacation for all budgets.

If you would like to donate to the island's relief efforts, here is an approved list of  Hurricane Dorian relief agencies working with the tourism boards you can be confident your dollars are going to be used precisely as intended.

Bahamas Vacation Guide

Travel Sites to Help You Plan a Bahamas Vacation:

Official Nassau Paradise Island: The Bahamas
The Islands of the Bahamas: Official Site
Grand Bahama Island
The Out Islands of the Bahamas

Other Midlife Perspective Members Bahama Vacation Guides for Planning/Relief Donations

Discovering Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas
Travel to the Bahamas Now: #BahamasStrong and Relief Efforts
Bahamas Cruising
Bahamas Romantic Getaway for Two
7 Reasons to Visit Nassau Now

My thanks to Empire Chevrolet Buick in Wilkesboro, NC, for being an October HinesSightBlog sponsor. Empire Chevy Buick is the place to search for pre-owned certified vehicles. All vehicles undergo a 172-point vehicle inspection and a thorough reconditioning process.  My blog sponsors like Empire Chevy Buick keep me at my desk writing editorial content, house stalking on YouTube and OutaboutNC. 


Roasted Garlic and Anchovies Make NC Chef's Teddy Diggs Fall Radicchio Salad Recipe a Winner

When North Carolina Chef Teddy Diggs, owner of Coronato Pizza in Carrboro, gave me his recipe for radicchio salad with his homemade caesar salad to make at home, I had no idea that I would become such a big fan of anchovies.

Anchovies are the fish that make most people go, "Ewww!" But, the little fish has some big health benefits. In fact, I was not even sure if I had eaten anchovies before buying them for this recipe.

Radicchio Salad with Anchovy and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Chef Diggs whose accolades go from cooking at the White House to studying under Chefs in Italy to working in high-end hotels has brought Roman-style to pizza to the South. He doesn't serve pizza with anchovies on the menu, but his fall salad, dressed with roasted garlic and anchovy dressing will make you an anchovy lover, too. I promise.

Chef Teddy Diggs of Coronoto Pizza

I ran into Teddy and his family at the NCRLA Culinary Chef Showdown last week. I raved about my version of the salad. He told me that this salad will be part of his restaurant's fall menu because radicchio is in abundance this time of year. When I made the salad, I used romaine lettuce because I could not find radicchio in August. Chef Diggs told me that romaine or even tender kale were good home substitutes because, for the home chef,  radicchio is not always in your grocery store. The bitterness of the lettuce complements the saltiness and boldness of the anchovies and roasted garlic in the dressing.

Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Make an Italian Caesar Dressing. This salad is with romaine lettuce

Roasting the garlic is also key to give this salad dressing recipe with anchovies another dimension of flavor. He told me that many Caesar dressings use garlic, but it's typically fresh garlic cloves. He believes roasting the garlic enhances the flavor of this homemade caesar dressing even more.

Chef Diggs likes to use anchovies from Italy's Amalfi Coast packed in oil. You can use salted anchovies, but they will need to be rinsed for about twenty minutes before blending them into the dressing. I went to Whole Foods Prime to buy my anchovies. I could not find any from Italy so I put some from Spain in my cart, but in the end, when they arrived at home, my anchovies were substituted for Reese flat fillets of anchovies imported from Morocco. They worked and I loved the dressing. Chef Diggs recommends the Delfino brand.

anchovy fillets by Reese

Delfino Anchovy fillets from Amalfi Coast

This salad serves four, but I have to admit to you that I ate the entire salad for lunch. It was that good. I want to make it again with the radicchio for fall or better yet, maybe I should just go to Carrboro to Coronato Pizza instead.

radicchio salad with delfino anchovy fillets

Coronato Pizza's Fall Radicchio Salad with Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Dressing (The Better Caesar Dressing)

● 2 head of roasted garlic
● 6 filet oil-packed anchovy or 4 salted anchovies rinsed and soaked in water
● 1/8 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnishing
● 1 egg yolks
● 1 1⁄2 cup blended oil (80 % olive oil/ 20% canola oil)
● 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
● 2 tablespoons lemon juice
● 1⁄4 cup water
● Kosher salt as needed
● 12 to 14 ounces radicchio (5 red-leaf endives, 3 long Treviso or 1 large round radicchio di Chioggia, or a
mixture), cored and cut in 1/2-inch-wide slivers, washed and dried
● Extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and 1⁄2 lemon as needed, for dressing the salad
Note: I substituted Romaine for Radicchio. Tender Kate is also a substitute

For the dressing:
Combine all roasted garlic cloves, anchovies, Parmigiano cheese, egg yolk, vinegar, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth. While the food processor is running drizzle in the oil. The mixture will begin to emulsify and thicken. Use the water to adjust the consistency of the dressing as desired. Season with salt. Reserve the dressing until use.

For the salad:
Place the cleaned radicchio in a mixing bowl and spoon about a 1⁄2 cup of the dressing over the lettuce. Crack fresh black pepper over the bowl, drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half of a lemon, or about 2 tablespoons. Mix ingredients together thoroughly.
Plate the dressed salad evenly between 5 plates and finish with finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

My thanks to October HinesSightBlog sponsor McNeill Nissan of Wilkesboro, NC 2020 Nissan Rogue.  The Nissan Rogue is awaiting your test drive at McNeill Nissan today. My blog sponsors keep me at my desk writing editorial content that I love to share and OutaboutNC. 


Do You Like To Look at Homes for Sale and Eat in Restaurants? Catch the Raleigh Area YouTube Show The House Stalkers

I have a new passion project for my fifties. Apparently, I do something new to help me cope with aging every decade. In my thirties, it was getting married and starting a family. In my forties, I started this blog. Now, I'm excited to say I'm vlogging and back on the small screen (where I feel most at home) with a YouTube Show, called The House Stalkers. This show is done in conjunction with  Raleigh realtor, Heather Petrovich, who is my witty co-host.

House Stalkers Host on Scene Shooting You Tube  Show

In the House Stalkers show, which is housed on my Leigh Powell Hines Channel, Heather and I stalk homes and visit local restaurants for lunch. You get a front-row seat on this house hunting journey and are invited to go along with us on the ride. The two of us have been friends for years and met when our children were toddlers. When Heather went back to work as a realtor, I messaged her and told her I was in the market for a home. You see, I was in the market for a home, but my husband was not in the market. She stalked homes with me for five years until we got my husband ready. Yes, you read that right. FIVE YEARS! The woman is a saint. Most people would have written me off as a nut who wasted their time.  During our house stalking period, we would look at homes about once a month and eat lunch. She finally sold me my dream home in downtown Raleigh a few years ago.  When I told her my YouTube show idea last year, she said a colorful word and declared she wanted to be the realtor who stalked homes with me. Now in 2019, we are stalking homes together again.  You can catch our first episode below. 

In our first episode, we visited the model home in the Olde Mill Trace neighborhood in Raleigh with new home builder, Stanley Martin Homes. This neighborhood is about ten minutes from downtown Raleigh. This lovely home design, called The Morgan II, is built in a community with larger lots than what is usually found in the city. The model home price for this Morgan II design starts around $550,000 for The entire Olde Mill Trace neighborhood currently has homes for sale from around $478,000 to $862,615.

The House Stalkers show has been in the works for over a year. We are concentrating on new construction in the Raleigh area currently so we can share new home trends.  As we move throughout the city, it will also give you an idea of price points in the Raleigh area. I think everyone is curious to see the types of homes on the market, and to realistically guess if the house we show is in their housing budget.

Inside a model home on The House  Stalkers

No doubt, I truly believe that North Carolina is a great place to live, and I think this show, and on our social media, you will get to see the charm of North Carolina's southern homes. I've been doing social media many months leading up to our show, and I think people are surprised at the cost of homes, especially around the area of downtown Raleigh.

As the founder of the OutaboutNC community on Instagram, I also wanted to tie in the local neighborhood flavor with this show. If I were in the market for a home in Raleigh,  I would want to know what restaurants are around where I plan to live.  In this Model Home episode, I take Heather to the locally-owned Manhattan Cafe on Wilmington Street in Downtown Raleigh.

fruit and turkey sandwich at Manhattan Cafe in  Raleigh, NC
Manhattan Cafe

This little family-owned restaurant serves breakfast and lunch. It's been a popular spot for downtown Raleigh workers since its opening in 2009 and has one of the largest salad bars in town.

This show is not about selling homes. By the time, our show may air, the homes we feature may already be sold, but rather, the show is about what life in Raleigh is like, and what type of home budget you need to have to live in certain areas of the county.

Heather and I have known each other for years, and I'm so glad she is helping me make this show a reality. I think she has as much fun as I do on our shoots.

The House Stalkers is on YouTube on Leigh Powell Hines Channel

My thanks to October blog sponsor CQC Home Raleigh -for keeping me at my desk writing and OutaboutNCCQC Home Raleigh is a home remodeling business in Raleigh and Durham that will deliver everything you need to help you transform your living spaces to meet your exact needs efficiently and on budget.

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