Friday Thoughts

After a really rough week (with some exciting things happening and bad news too), I am thrilled for opportunities such as this one in the photo above. I love travel, and I thank my lucky stars every day for the gift of travel. My mom used to tell me (when she was still alive), that “you must travel once a month”. She traveled the world with my dad. I definitely think she passed down the travel bug. Mom, you would be very proud (I miss you)! Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Speaking Event Friday at Women’s Work-Life Symposium

I am so excited and honored to be speaking at this year’s 3rd Annual Women’s Work-Life Seminar Symposium in Panama City Beach, Florida. I will be accompanies by five other wonderful motivational speakers such as Lorna Owens, International Motivational Speaker and Author, Jill Nichols, Chief Operating Officer of  Vera Bradley, Jennifer Webb, Author, Speaker and Coach, Charlotte Steill, Certified Professional Organizer, and Martha Lanier, Author, triathlete and cancer and heart attack survivor. When it’s over, I am off to the beach! Have a great weekend, Alison

Travel Tuesday: 10 Reasons to Visit Rosemary Beach

For those of you who have heard or been to Rosemary Beach, you know that everything I am about to stay is so true. For those of you who asked on twitter, “Is that near parsley beach”, and had no idea where and what it was, please keep reading. My friend, Candace, who was in Rosemary Beach, recently told me she had told her father, “Rosemary Beach is in my heart.” I can totally relate.

Located in the northwest panhandle of Florida, Rosemary Beach is a neo-tradional beach town located on the eastern end of Scenic Route 30A that was founded in 1995. Rosemary incorporates “green” concepts into the design and function of the entire community.

1. The Accommodations: The homes and architecture are breathtaking, and the decor is described as “New Orleans meets West Indies, Charleston and the Caribbean.” More than 100 rental accommodations are available, and guests can choose from cozy studios, to one-, two-, and three-bedroom homes, lofts, flats and cottages that are gulf-front, gulf-side, park-side, and park-views. Rosemary is a wonderful place for romantic getaways, weddings, snowbirds, family or to work, live and retire.

2. The Restaurants: Rosemary Beach is filled with shops and restaurants. Restaurants in Rosemary Beach are dedicated to the “green living” theme. The Amavida Coffee, a family owned business, motto is “Love for Life”. It produces 100 percent natural Fair Trade Certified Coffee. Restaurant Paradis, Onano, Edwards and Summer Kitchen use locally grown ingredients and fresh Gulf seafood. Cowgirl Kitchen is perfect for the kids, and a great spot for lunch off the beach and to take food to-go. All of the restaurants get high accolades from me. You honestly never have to get in your car. 

3. The Shopping: From antiques and interior design shops to children’s and women’s fashion, the shopping in Rosemary is always a must. Some of my favorites are: Tracery (interiors), Willow (designer clothing for women), Rosemary Beach Trading (gift shop), Bombora Sun & Surf (beach apparel), Moonpize (ladies shoes), and Gigi’s (fabulous kids fashion and toys).

4. The Beauty: The walkways and gardens are picturesque and unique. The arrangement of homes, boardwalks, pedestrian lanes, and footpaths all lead to the amazing town square, tennis courts, swimming pools and the beach.

5. Fitness Activities: Rosemary Beach has an incredible fitness  center, biking and running paths, lap pool, yoga, as well as its amazing tennis facility, The Rosemary Beach Racquet Club. I can’t say enough about the tennis pros, tennis clinics, pro shop and eight wonderful clay courts. If you’re a tennis player, you will spend a great deal of time here.

6. The Pools: Rosemary Beach has four unique pools on the property. The Coquina Pool (pictured above) is a negative-edge pool meant for lounging and relaxing, The Cabana Pool, a family friendly pool area with a Mediterranean design, The Sky Pool, which is the lap pool heated for warm or cooler weather, and The Barbados Pool, designed in French West Indies architectural style. With such different character and design, it is absolutely worth spending time at all of them.

7. The Gardens: Common “green” areas are located throughout Rosemary Beach. Various gardens exist featuring children’s park space, fountains, sitting areas, herb gardens and a butterfly garden.

8. The Spa: Every resort area must have a day spa, and Vivo Spa Salon is located in downtown Rosemary Beach featuring an Aveda hair salon and makeup services, massage, skin care, body treatments and nail service. All services are offered in a “Bali” inspired tropical setting.

9. The Beach: The beauty of the beaches at Rosemary speak for themselves. Feel free to enjoy the umbrellas and chairs, cabanas, hammocks, kayaks, catamarans, surfboards and sea school which offers children classes on surf, sail, kayak and skim boarding.

10. The Views: This view speaks for itself. The beauty here in Rosemary Beach is almost unreal to see with your own eyes and undeniable.

Travel Tuesday Vacation Destination: Sandestin A to Z

Welcome to my new weekly column “Tuesday Travel”. I am so thrilled to be doing a great deal of “freelance traveling writing” for various media outlets this year, and I am looking forward to also sharing my travel experiences as well on Ingredients, Inc. every other Tuesday.

I am so lucky to live only 4 hours from the beautiful beaches of South Walton in Northwest Florida and the stunningly amazing golf and beach resort, Sandestin.  My family and I had an incredible opportunity to visit Sandestin this Spring Break, and when my youngest son called it, “a mini Disney World” at the beach, I could truly see why. I had so much to say about this comprehensive resort experience that when I sat down to write about it, I wondered how I could say it all. I am hoping this post on “Sandestin A to Z” will give you a short tour of why you should come to Sandestin for a visit.

A: Acme Oyster House-You will get a taste of New Orleans walking around The Village of Baytowne Wharf, especially this view of the streets and the famous New Orleans restaurant, Acme Oyster House.

B: Beach-It is no surprise that Destin has been named by Good Morning America as one of “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America.”

C: Cantina LaredoThe Mexican restaurant, Cantina Laredo, is located in Sandestin’s Grand Boulevard shops. My kids loved it, and their favorite part was having guacamole made table side.

D: Daiquiris-Sandestin has nearly two dozen venues in The Village of Baytowne Wharf, including pub sports bars, seasonal tiki bars, restaurants, shops, and even the famous New Orleans Daiquiri and frozen drink bar, Fat Tuesday. Love this evening view of Baytowne Wharf.

E: Another Broken Egg-This is one of our favorite breakfast restaurants. There are two Another Broken Egg restaurants on Sandestin’s Property.

F: Fishing-This was my backyard for the weekend, but every lake has a “catch and release” policy which is so fun for the kids (and adults.)

G: Golf-Sandestin has four incredible championship golf courses, and it is not surprising that Sandestin has been named one of the “Top 12 Golf Communities” by Forbes.

H: Happiness-Say no more.

I: Ice Skating– In the wintertime, Sandestin adds a synthetic ice skating rink in the heart of Baytown Wharf.

J: Jet Ski-If you like an exciting or casual ride on the water, wave runners are available to rent at the Baytowne Marina. 

K: Kayaking-Kayaking is one of our family’s favorite activities at the beach. Head to the Baytowne Marina for a fun afternoon kayaking in the bay.

L: Lakes-72 lakes exist on Sandestin’s 2400 acres. They are all beautifully landscaped and very picturesque.

M: Marina-Sandestin has an 113-Slip Marina with so many fun activities, including sailing charters and lessons, sailboat rentals, pontoon boat rentals, wave runner rentals, sunset cruises, Yolo stand-up paddle boarding and more.

N: Nature TrailJolee Island Nature Park is 5 acres and the perfect place for a walk, bike ride, picnic or cookout with family or friends. During the fall, I hear that there is a great Halloween pirate themed island trail with hayrides and more.  They call it, “Get Spooked on Jolee Island.”

O: Outdoors-Where else can you get hiking, biking, beach, running, golf, tennis, beach volleyball, basketball, canoeing, paddle boarding, boogie boards and water sports all in one destination?

P: Putting CourseThe Dunes adventurous Putting Course is located beachside. This 51-par course had 18 incredibly landscaped holes of fun. It’s a great thing to do when the kids want a break from the ocean.

Q: Quintessential Vacation-The beauty in Sandestin is almost surreal. This is truly a quintessential vacation destination.

R: Ropes CourseThe Sky Trail Ropes Course is a fun challenge for kids of all ages.

S: San Gelato Cafe-Located in Baytown Wharf, we visited San Gelato Cafe every day. Owners, Guido and Simona, moved from Italy to the Emerald coast. You can find two locations in Destin which serve incredible gelato, sorbets, sandwiches, salads, coffee and desserts. Their gelato is also distributed in stores throughout the country.

T: Tennis-Sandestin is equipped with 15 tennis courts, 12 clay and 3 hard courts. This state of the art facility is built around lakes on one side and the marina on the other.

U: Umbrellas-Enjoy the view sitting or walking the seven miles of beaches and pristine bay front in Sandestin.

V: Vacation-Sandestin has 19 swimming pools. Yes, 19! This picture of my son, Zachary, by the pool, is the definition of vacation. Just chillin…

W: Water-Do I need to say more?

 

X: Xcellent Accommodations: From beach to bay, there are nearly 1,400 accommodations ranging from deluxe studios to four bedroom villas.

 

Y: Yolo boardingYolo Boards, which are stand-up paddle boards, are made in Santa rosa beach, just down the road. The combination of surfing, kayaking and canoeing is a blast for kids and adults and also an incredible core workout. Lessons and rentals are offered daily at the Sandestin Marina.

Z: Zipline-Conquer your fears in Baytown Wharf on the zipline. Anchored by two 60-feet towers, this zipline crosses 650 feet across from tower to tower. And, yes, that is me in the photo.

Weekend Inspiration: Travel, Food, Fashion and Fitness

Wow, what a week! From Disney in Orlando for Food Blog Forum to Sandestin Resort (pictured above and below) in South Walton, my kids and I have had quite the treat. I guess this is the true definition of an “awesome” spring break. Here are some inspirations from last week from my travels as well as across the blogosphere. Let me know what fun things you are doing this weekend. Have a great one, Alison

Beach Inspiration: Beaches at the amazing Sandestin 

Travel Inspiration: Gelato from Sangelato Cafe in Sandestin

Children Inspiration: We had so much fun in Disney. Especially, Leigh.

Passover Inspiration: Flourless Chocoalte Cupcakes with Marshmallow Meringue Frosting via Urban Baker

Food Inspiration: Baked Whole Wheat Banana and Chocolate Donuts from Top with Cinnamon

Easter Craft Inspiration: Glittered Easter Eggs via Martha Stewart 

Fashion and Home Inspiration: Lavender  “Apartment 34” and Whitney of “The Curtis Casa”

 Workout Inspiration via “Plus One Fitness”

Need a Getaway? Rosemary Beach, Florida

Last week I went on my first nonworking vacation in a long time. I chose one of my favorite spots to take the kids: Rosemary Beach, Florida. It’s a spectacular community that is great for anyone: families, couples, girls trips, guys trips and retired people. The town is adorable, filled with cool architecture, eclectic shops, galleries and wonderful restaurants. Can you say white sand? It’s breathtaking.

From the shopping to the food, there is something for everyone. I couldn’t include them all,  but I thought I would share a few. Gigi’s is an adorable spot with incredible unique toys and baby clothes.

The restaurants in Rosemary are fantastic and diverse. They really have covered the bases: family-friendly restaurants, casual dining, tapas and chocolate fare to fine dining. One of our child-friendly favorites is Cowgirl Kitchen which serves anything from nachos to healthy salads and great pizza (ideal for kids).

My favorite adult restaurant is Restaurant Paradis which has anything from Oysters Rockefeller to the best Ahi Tuna I have ever had. It’s romantic, fresh and divine all in one.

The kids have plenty to do in Rosemary Beach from pools to awesome beaches and plenty of bike riding. Rosemary even has a well organized kid’s camp to give parents a break. Mine were particularly fond of the very famous Sugar Shack and newer New Orleans Snow Balls where they had so many incredible flavors (even pomegranate).

Leigh enjoyed it just slightly. That smile never lies…

Rosemary’s newest addition happened to be one of our favorites. The Hidden Lantern is an old-time English style book store. The layout and books are amazing. Honestly, you could sit and read all day long.

The book store has children’s events for different ages, and a great spot for other events as well. We bought three books and one card as gifts, and we almost didn’t make it out to the beach the morning we stopped in there.

What I really love about Rosemary is that when you come, you really don’t need to leave very often. With great running paths and trails, tennis courts, pools, great workout facilities, Aveda Spa and more, everything is so close and easy to get to (no car needed). Bike riding is huge, and I love this shot of all the bikes parked one morning right in front of the beach walkway.

I highly recommend a vacation at Rosemary Beach. It was a wonderful getaway.

Rosemary has a lot of great events coming up including Rosemary Uncorked in October, writing festivals, girls getaways and more. For more information see Rosemary, see http://www.rosemarybeach.com/