food, travel, lifestyle, and a hearty serving of motherhood

Month: May 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Memorial Day on Topsail Island

Over the last 12+ years, Topsail Island has become a second home to me and my family.

Okay, seriously, where did the time go? That’s half of my life!

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been packing up the car, driving down I-40, and crossing over the swing bridge onto the island year after year since I was around 12 years old. It’s a place that holds a lot of memories for me.

Late night Dairy Queen runs and pool dips, hermit crab souvenirs, the most unbearable sunburns, July 4th fireworks on the beach, sandcastles with the most elaborate of tunnels and motes, getting honked at simply for crossing the street, playing “manhunt” with walkie talkies after midnight (and the mosquito bites that appeared the next day), playing pool in the laundromat/bar, collecting shark teeth, boogie boarding until our the tops of our feet were red from sand burn, and plenty of peel-and-eat shrimp smothered in Old Bay.

It’s a place that will always make me feel safe and welcome.

Richard and I joined my parents and sister for a Memorial Day weekend at the beach house, and it was the perfect dose of much-needed relaxation.

In a weird way, I feel proud of myself for only taking a few photos. I was really trying my best to live “in the moment” and not feel too tied down with technology. However, maybe it made for a boring blog post. Oh well!

We ate plenty of PB&J sandwiches… Also know as the best beach lunch ever.


We also went to a Memorial Day party hosted by some family friends.


And there was a gorgeous sunset on Sunday night (see title photo).

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect weekend.

xo Cassie

Wildwood Half Marathon

This weekend was an absolute blast.

On Friday morning, Richard and I flew up to PA (and brought the rain with us) to stay with my friend Tammie so that we could all run in the Wildwood Half Marathon in NJ. We got to meet some of Tammie’s friends, eat delicious food (um, salted caramel fudge, anyone?), drink tasty beers (oh right, and margaritas!), and then run all the food and drink off on Sunday!

Okay, maybe not all of the food and drink.

I gained 3 pounds.

How exactly does one gain weight on a half marathon trip?

Oh right, the fudge.

While typing the word “fudge”, I accidently typed the word “fridge”. Which is the exact location of the leftover salted caramel fudge. HELP.

Here’s a little visual recap of our awesome weekend!

Wildwood Boardwalk

Rides at Morey's Pier


Wildwood Boardwalk

Rides at Morey's Pier 2

Water Park

Richard and I

Convention Center

I love this guy.


And I somehow beat my previous half marathon time by TEN MINUTES. Think it had something to do with the course being coastal and almost completely flat? Ha! I feel really good about it, though. I enjoyed every bit of that race.

Thank you again Tammie and Donna for a wonderful weekend — would love for you two to come down in November for the City of Oaks Half!

xo Cassie

Beer Cheese Soup


Beer and cheese in SOUP FORM, what’s not to love?

This may be Richard’s new favorite. Okay, and mine, too.

Beer Cheese Soup

Beer Cheese Soup // slightly adapted from Food & Wine
Yields 4 bowls

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 container Mirepoix , unless you feel like chopping your own celery (1 rib), carrot (1 large), and onion (1 small) — I get my Mirepoix at Trader Joe’s!
1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
One 12-ounce bottle lager or pilsner — I used Bud Light. I mean, what else am I going to do with it?
About 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 more tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 pound sharp yellow cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
4 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Crusty bread, for serving

1. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add the mirepoix (celery, carrot, and onion), chopped jalapeño, garlic, and thyme to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 8-10 minutes.
2. Add half of the beer and cook until reduced by half, 5 minutes.
3. Add 2 1/4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
4. In a small skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Whisk this roux into the soup until incorporated and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the heavy cream, cheddar cheeses and the remaining beer and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes.
6. Use an immersion blender to puree slightly (it’s so much better when there aren’t huge chunks of carrots or celery).
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Ladle into bowls, top with more chopped thyme, and serve soup with crusty bread for dipping.

Beer Cheese Soup


Make this and eat it before you realize that summer is almost here and you’re going to have to put a bathing suit on.

xo Cassie

Mother’s Day

Whew, just checking in to share a short and sweet post to wish the Moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day!

We enjoyed lunch at my Dad’s parents’ house (the lovely ranch-style Johnston County home that he grew up in!) — with plenty of southern bbq, coleslaw, potato salad, hush puppies, pimento cheese, spinach lasagna, southwest corn and black bean salad and key lime pie!

Man, did I ever need a nap after THAT lunch.

Dad and his Mom, Faye.  Oh, and of course, his parents' poodle, Fifi!

Dad and his Mom, Faye. Oh, and of course, his parents’ poodle, Fifi!

My Mom, me, my sister Kara, and Grandma Faye.

My Mom, me, my sister Kara, and Grandma Faye.

Happy Mother’s Day!

xo Cassie

Fresh Paint & Caribbean Style

Since having our house and front door painted, I’ve been working to spruce up the outside living area a bit. Hanging baskets, potted herbs, flowers on the doorsteps, the works!

Here are some snapshots of the exterior progress…

Potted plants


Basket and pots

Patio plants

Front porch

One can never plant too much basil. Also, did you notice the little kitty in the window in the very first picture above the title of this post? Sweet Merlin is always crying to get outside…

I’m loving the seafoam/peach/yellow combination — makes me feel like we’ve got our own little Caribbean beach cottage in the heart of Apex!

xo Cassie

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