Travel

Ocean City, Maryland

 

3 days in Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Our friends very graciously invited us out to their beach house for a long weekend in Ocean City, MD last month. The house is just two doors down from the boardwalk and is such a treat to stay at.

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}
My favorite part of Ocean City is riding beach cruisers on the boardwalk. Bikes are allowed on the boardwalk until 10am, so David and I always wake up early, eat a quick breakfast, and enjoy a couple hours riding around and taking pictures before the crowds descend.

 

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

The last time we were in Ocean City there was a sand sculpture of the Last Supper. This year’s sand sculpture was just as impressive.

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

The boardwalk is 2.25 miles from one end to the next sandwiched between a large, sandy beach, and low-scale buildings on the other: hotels, beach houses, lots of tourist shops and restaurants serving boardwalk fare like funnel cakes, boardwalk fries, pizza, and softshell crab sandwiches.  A tram runs along the boardwalk after 11am and takes passengers from one end to the other for $3.

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

At one end of the boardwalk is an amusement park with a pretty big selection of fair rides and games.

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Near the  amusement park is a fishing pier that’s a prime picture taking spot for great beach views like the one below.

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

 

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Watching a sand soccer tournament.

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

Fisher’s Popcorn has been in the same location on the boardwalk since 1937. I don’t usually eat refined sugar, but I cheated and tried some of their caramel corn. I’m convinced it’s the best popcorn in the world.

Ocean City, Maryland {praylivecreate.com}

On our last night at the beach we went digging for sand crabs for one of our friends to use as fishing bait.  We used our cell phones as flash lights and dug right at the waterline once the sun set.  The ladies dug and we let our guys pick the crabs up and put them in the bucket (they reminded me of cock roaches!). It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

Have you been to Ocean City? What’s your favorite thing to do there? Any other beaches we should check out?

 

Stephanie from praylivecreate.com

linking up with Jack of All Trades at A Harvest of Blessing

 

10 Places to Eat in Seattle

10 Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle {praylivecreate.com} #travel #foodie #vacation
Heshan and I took a short trip to Seattle over Valentine’s day so he could attend a Child Psychology conference. I tagged along to play moral support + vacation planner, and we planned to spend the first two days doing all things conference-y and the last two days conquering the city by whirling through a long list of things we wanted to see and do. But of course, like all best laid plans it didn’t exactly go down that way. Instead we ended up seeing the most touristy of touristy sights and eating our way through Seattle’s amazing neighborhoods and cuisine and I think we barely scratched the surface. Here are the ten places we’d eat at again in Seattle.

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle. Visit Wild Rye Cafe for a large Seattle coffee with a breakfast burrito. {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Wild Rye Cafe
806 Pike Street

This was the second place we ate at in Seattle (the first was a Hawaiian restaurant after we landed, but we were so jet lagged we practically slept through our meal), and Heshan still raves about the breakfast burrito. So it’s going on the list. Located right across from the ginormous Seattle conference center, Wild Rye is a breakfast and lunch spot with an oatmeal bar in the morning, breakfast burritos, pastries, and giant salads and sandwiches for lunch. It sounds like your basic bakery and cafe when you say it that way, but we had a good time and it’s great for people staying in downtown Seattle for conferences and events.

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle. Watch biscuits being made at Serious Pie and Biscuit. {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Serious Pie & Biscuit
401 Westlake Avenue North

We learned pretty early on in our trip that Tom Douglas is one of Seattle’s best known chefs, and his restaurant Serious Pie & Biscuit made our short list. The biscuits come in the form of huge biscuit sandwiches, with everything from fried chicken (Heshan went for this, naturally) to peanut butter and banana wedged in between. And in the case of Heshan’s sandwich, lots of gravy on top. They had gluten-free biscuits on the menu when we went, and we sat upstairs by the wood fired oven where we could watch the amazing pizzas come out (and where we could peek down into the bakery itself and watch employees knead and roll the dough).

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle. Top Pot Donuts is a must for gourmet donuts. {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Top Pot Donuts
2124 Fifth Avenue

Top Pot Donuts is a Seattle institution, and probably the bakery behind the gourmet donut craze that took off in our own city a few years ago. They have several locations across the city, but we went out of our way to visit the flagship bakery that Steph and I had visited seven years earlier. It’s worth a trip if you can handle the sugar. We ate breakfast beforehand so that I could just grab an organic juice while Heshan tried the double chocolate for himself.

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle. Wild Ginger is one of the city's top Thai restaurants. {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Wild Ginger
1401 Third Avenue

Speaking of Tom Douglas, Heshan and I read in a magazine that one of his favorite places to eat in the city is Wild Ginger due to its great menu and reasonable price point. We’re not usually the type to follow celebrity chefs, but when it came time to pick a restaurant for dinner on Valentine’s Day we realized we 1) had no idea where to go, and 2) didn’t have a reservation in a city full of restaurants that were completely booked up. So we snagged two seats on the edge of the bar, where we ordered chicken satay appetizers and curries for dinner. The atmosphere is great and the prices are fantastic given the level of service and the quality of the food.

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle, including the famous Piroshky, Piroshky Russian pastries {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Piroshky, Piroshky
1908 Pike Place

Heshan read about Piroshky, Piroshky on our plane ride west and became enamored with trying the Russian bakery’s best-selling smoked salmon pate piroshky. Apparently he wasn’t the only one. We had to visit the bakery twice in our time there, because they’d sold out of the salmon pie on our first visit. We got there early the next day and braved the mile long line to get our hands on one. Piroshkies are Russian hand-held pies stuffed with either sweet or savory fillings, and you can smell the rising dough from blocks away.

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle, including the original Starbucks {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Original Starbucks
102 Pike Street

When in Seattle, right? After braving the line at Piroshky, Piroshky we figured what’s the harm in standing in line just to get inside the original Starbucks.  It’s worth the visit just to see where it all began and take a few photos.

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Chili and Sesame Korean Kitchen
2421 2nd Avenue

Heshan and I couldn’t get over how great the Asian food in Seattle is, so on our last night in the city we decided to grab Korean food at Chili and Sesame and take it back to the hotel for dinner in bed (you only live once!). Best. Korean. Food. Ever. I got the kimchi fried rice, he got short ribs. We may have coupled it with a couple cans of Izze sparkling juice. It was delicious, and we’d do it all over again next time we’re in town.

Ten Places to Eat in Seattle: A list of places to eat when visiting Seattle. Portage Bay Cafe has three different kinds of gluten-free pancakes. {praylivecreate.com} #vacation #travel #foodie

Portage Bay Cafe
391 Terry Avenue North

One of the food guides that we were reading recommended Portage Bay Cafe for a local, seasonal, and gluten-free friendly brunch, and once I heard that they had three different kinds of gluten-free pancakes to choose from (along with a bunch of other options for people who aren’t gluten-free) my heart was set on it. Their South Lake Union location was only a few blocks from our hotel, so we made reservations to meet my friend Courtney there for breakfast and to guarantee a spot during the morning rush. You guys… pancake topping bar. That’s all I can say. Imagine a table full of real whipped butter, whipped cream, fresh fruit, nuts, and 100% pure maple syrup so you can decorate your pancakes or French toast however you like. There’s a reason breakfast here is in demand.

Since we’re travel fans, tell us where your favorite place to visit is or where you’re going next.

Kim from praylivecreate.com

 joining the Jack of All Trades link up!

The Best of 2013

Best of 2013

Last year may have had it’s serious dips, but it was also the year the hubster and I learned how to get out of town on a budget. And fortunately we got to rope Steph and her husband into the action most of the time. We might be halfway through January, but it’s never too late to take a look at the top moments of 2013.

Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina
March 2013

Yes, this picture happened on segways. On a beach. In a state park in South Carolina. And it was amazing. We met up for a small family reunion in Southport, North Carolina and ventured from there to Wilmington, North Carolina, where we visited Airlie Gardens, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, where we splurged for an amazing segway tour through the park. This pic should have been on our Christmas card, and there’s more where this came from.

Carolina Collage

niagra

Niagara Falls, Canada
June, 2013

In June we joined friends in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada for their gorgeous wedding. They hosted us at the beautiful Beamer Falls Bed and Breakfast in Canada’s wine country, where we ate like royalty thanks to the B&B’s amazing managers, and visited Niagara Falls before heading back to the states.

canada collage

Hudson River Valley

Hudson River Valley, New York
July, August, and September, 2013

The Hudson River Valley has our hearts for life. We spent two short weekend trips and two more short day trips soaking in as much of the nature, boutiques, and amazing farm to table restaurants as we could. And then I wrote about how we spent three days for under $300. Hudson River, take us awayyyy….

Hudson Collage

crabs chesapeake bay

Kent Island, Maryland
July, 2013

When we asked our younger brother how he wanted to celebrate his 29th birthday, he said sitting on the Chesapeake Bay eating crabs. So Steph made that happen. If you’re looking for a true Chesapeake experience, there’s no place like Fisherman’s Inn and Market on Kent Island, Maryland. We sat on the bay, fed ducks from the palms of our hands, and ate crabs and salmon until we had our fill. And we survived the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, one of the world’s longest bridges, to get there.

Chesapeake Collage

Boca Beach

Boca Raton, Florida
October, 2013

In October, we toasted two good friends as they tied the knot in Boca Raton, Florida, and then celebrated their big day under a tent on a private beach. I don’t know if there’s anything more amazing than a big tent, good friends, a few tiki torches, a huge full moon, and the ocean right at your feet.

Boca Raton Collage

Virginia Collage

Northern Virginia
August, November, and December, 2013

And of course we squeezed in more than a few escapes to Northern Virginia to celebrate another wedding with good friends and later to squeeze in as much Thanksgiving and Christmas fun as we could over several long weekends. By the way… if you want to know what the blind leading the blind looks like, watch the hubster and me on ice. Steph and her husband on the other hand? I’m pretty sure the Oh stands for Oh-mazing.

What about you? Tell us your highlights of 2013.

Three Days in New York’s Hudson River Valley for $300

Three Days in New Yorks Hudson River Valley for 300 Dollars - Read more at the link

The hubster and I have been escaping to New York’s Hudson River Valley this summer ever since realizing we had all the beauty, delicious food, and landscapes of of an east coast Napa Valley just two hours from home. Can I just tell you… new favorite place in the world. The Valley starts out north of New York City and stretches up alongside either side of the Hudson River in a series of small towns. Our first visit started out as a quick day trip away from the city and turned into three days hopping all over the Valley like there was no tomorrow. We found out is that it’s actually an incredibly easy vacation for almost anyone, and it can be done on a super affordable budget. If we were planning a trip for you (and if we know you, chances are we are), here’s what we’d tell you to see.

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Bumble & Hive
– Rhinebeck, NY

Rhinebeck is a super cool town, and Bumble & Hive is one of the best little boutiques we saw there. Honey, anyone? Yes, please! We were also this close to snatching up the artwork on sale, mostly because whose home doesn’t need more photos of cows and barns? We ended up holding off, but the honey from Bumble & Hive would make great birthday or Christmas gifts for loved ones. And the honey bar (above) is a great place to pick out flavors. (Also I want to do that rooster thing in my kitchen.)

Also in Rhinebeck: Bread Alone (organic, handcrafted breads + cafe) | Hammertown Country Living (expensive home decor but good for inspiration, look around then hit up antique stores)

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com

Hoffman’s Barn Sale – Red Hook, NY

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Rhinebeck is the most amazing antique store in the world: Hoffman’s Barn Sale. We found out about this place from Country Living Magazine, and obviously we had to go. Hoffman’s is exactly what it sounds like: a giant barn-like structure full of used stuff. Imagine giant mason jars and glassware for $2 or less or huge used windows for $7 or shutters for $4 or even beautiful old fireplace mantles for $100, plus bigger things like furniture, rugs, antique cars and plows, and more. We spotted stuff from the barn sale in upscale boutiques nearby. Pinterest junkies would pretty much be in love, and that’s exactly how we felt, which is why we went there twice in one day. Totally worth it.

Me Oh My Pie Shop 2 - gg square
Me Oh My Pie Shop – Red Hook, NY

Me Oh My Pie Shop is known for their pies and desserts, but they also serve $10 dinners, including roast chicken with mashed potatoes. The hubster paid a dollar more for a full chicken pot pie and took a chocolate cream pie home for dessert (big enough to feed a horse). We stopped by after sunset, but if we did it again we’d get here for an early dinner and then head north to Saugerties.

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Saugerties, NY

Just twenty six miles north of Red Hook (home of Hoffman’s) is Saugerties, New York. Saugerties is a great place to end the day, especially if you show up on the first Friday of the month, when the whole town essentially comes out for First Fridays.

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com

Cue – Saugerties, NY

We grabbed a bite to eat at ‘Cue, which is modeled after rural roadside BBQ shacks across the country, with a ginormous patio for eating in front. All of the meat is smoked on site throughout the day, and they work seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farms into the menu for specials. The prices are super fair, the vibe is super fun, and the food is super good. On our visit, it was too early for dinner, but we got a smoked chicken leg and brisket and some sides to split. The hubster almost took one of their local strawberry shortcakes, but his self-control got the best of him.

Saugerties Lighthouse 2 - gg square
Saugerties Lighthouse – Saugerties, NY

To get to Saugerties Lighthouse we had to check the tide schedule and then make a half mile stroll from the parking lot through a nature path (which is totally underwater when the tide is high) to the lighthouse. Once we got there, we saw why reviews say it’s one of the most beautiful places ever. The lighthouse was turned into a bed and breakfast in the 90s, but the outdoor space is still open to the public to hang out for free. We spent hours relaxing on the giant deck in back with other visitors and listening to the water lap up against the stone until the sun set. It seriously felt like heaven.

Also in Saugerties: Miss Lucy’s Kitchen (farm to table restaurant) | Tango Restaurant and Cafe (South American food) | Lucky Chocolates (organic, fair trade chocolate, ice cream, and sugar-free / dairy-free ice cream by organic nectars!) | First Fridays | Orpheum Theater (movies under $10 on Thursdays)

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Warwick, New York

Warwick is a small town in the southern part of Ulster County. The main street is lined with cafes and antique boutiques, including lots of gluten-free friendly places like Sugar Shack (which serves gluten-free French toast, sweets, and omelets all day long) and Noble Pies (which serves sweet and savory pies and has a selection of gluten-free pies and sweets on hand everyday, along with sugar-free pies by order). We fell in love with this place and could spend days just roaming around.

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery – Warwick, NY

The hubster and I got engaged in Napa Valley, and ever since then wineries have been some of our favorite places to visit. Warwick Valley Winery is known as making one of the best hard ciders in the country. We split a tasting of six flavors for only $5.00 and picked up gourmet snacks in the shop. They also have a cafe on site for lunch. You could spend half a day soaking in the views from the outside patio, or after Labor Day you can go pear and apple picking on the grounds.

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Pennings Farm Market – Warwick, NY

After our visit to the winery, we ran into a local who told us we must visit Pennings Farm Market for dinner. By day Pennings is a farm market with a pretty amazing selection, like maple-sweetened fruit yogurt and fruit-juice sweetened jams and pumpkin butters, but by night it turns into a restaurant and bar. We ordered organic burgers (they have gluten-free buns, which = win), fries, and salad and were so stuffed we had to bring some back to the hotel. Pennings was slammed by 7:30 PM, so next time we’d get there by 6:00 PM and check out the drive-in theater down the street afterward for only $10. They also have apple picking in the fall!

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
A Day Away Kayak Rentals – Kingston, NY

The Hudson River Valley is known for it’s outdoor adventure stuff, and after researching kayaking spots in the Hudson we settled on A Day Away, which is the most affordable and seemed the best for beginners. We followed the road way out into the country, signed the waiver, and put our life vests on (and at this point I’m already thinking how many amoebas are in that water?) when the owner tells us he’s going to have us climb into the kayak on the back of a trailer, drive us down a path, and then back us up into the water and let us go. Something like this, only that might have just been how it felt in my head. Once we were in the water we could paddle around to a small waterfall in one direction and a little island in the other before returning to the dock. I liked that we were blocked in on both sides so we couldn’t go too far and the water was super peaceful and not choppy. The hubster and I shared a kayak for $30.

Also in Kingston: Kingston Parks Movies (free outdoor movies under the stars) | Adams Fairacre Farms (the Hudson River Valley’s answer to Whole Foods) | Broadway Lights Diner (A diner with a Greek flair. We ate dinner here on one of our trips and loved it.)

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Water Street Market – New Paltz, NY

We grabbed a bite at the Bridge Creek Cafe at New Paltz’s Water Street Market before heading out to kayak, but we also eyed the Kosiner Brother’s Organic Hot Dog Cart, which had gluten-free buns and browsed the giant antique center.

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Fishkill Farms – Fishkill, NY

The second outdoorsy activity we wanted to get in was berry picking, so we headed to Fishkill Farms based on a recommendation from another local. Fishkill Farms is a huge ecological farm with almost year-round fruit picking and events. We visited at the height of berry and cherry season, and we picked currants and blueberries to bring home and took a tractor tour of the cherry fields before we wimped out and ran back to the shade indoors. They also have a grill on site that serves hotdogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, and grilled corn as well as an ice cream stand and a farm store with local products.

Three Days in New York's Hudson River Valley for Under $300 - wearegospelgirls.com
Peekskill, New York

On our way home we stopped at the Peekskill train station to sit on a stone pier and watch the sun set over the Catskill Mountains. The best part about the Hudson River Valley is that so much of it is breathtaking just by virtue of the mountains, river, and valley, that you can spend days just taking it all in and not actually spending much at all. All of the above activities could be done in a three day, two night trip to the Valley for as little as $300. We use Priceline’s name your own price feature to book two or three star hotels for as low as $55 a night in the town of Fishkill, and we save on food by loading up on the complementary breakfast at the hotels and then grabbing yogurts at Adams Fairacre Farms to top it off, and also bringing a ginormous bag of us-friendly food like oatmeal and fruit and snacks such as Caveman Cookies and Quest bars for between meals. Though who can pass up Cracker Barrel every now and then?

Now it’s your turn. What’s one of the most beautiful or exciting places you’ve ever been?

Header by Stephanie Oh.

Escape to DC

The boyfriend and I escaped to Washington DC last weekend to visit my sister and her boyfriend.

A lot of this happened.

Plus so much more. I’ll have pics, restaurant reviews, and more to share soon!

How I Ended Up in South Florida Twice This Summer


Friends, it’s been a long time. I can’t believe how much time has passed since I left you with a picture of me and Steph frolicking through downtown Miami with not an explanation in sight. The truth is, a lot has happened since then, and if you’ve read my newly updated About page (or are interested enough in the minutiae of my daily life to be reading this at all… Hi mom! Hi Steph!) you already know that Steph has left New York City for the warmer shores of South Florida.

How’d that happen? She quit her job! I quit my job! We both quit our jobs and parted ways to pursue crazy, scary, too-big-to-accomplish-on-our-own dreams that God’s planted in our hearts. Deep breath. I’m still not sure what I was thinking. 😉

But somehow I ended up taking two separate vacations to South Florida this summer, which is two more vacations to South Florida than I’ve ever taken in my entire life, and which were two of the best vacations I’ve ever had. The first time I flew down with Steph to scope out its “could-I-live-here” potential. We toured the art deco hotels of Miami Beach, got caught in (and subsequently towed out of) a flash flood, and (lacking all self-respect and common sense) ventured into The Everglades at the height of bug season wearing new outfits from K-Mart without any socks.

The second trip involved a (new) used car, $300 between us, and a long stretch of I-95 dotted with Days Inn (whose desk clerks so kindly looked the other way as we wheeled a meowing suitcase through their lobby), Wal-Mart, and Ruby Tuesdays.

Somehow we made it through of all of it alive.

Here’s a photographic journey through what went down.