Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

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When my parents first suggested going to Kiawah Island for my birthday weekend, I scoffed at the idea. To me, the beaches near Charleston (Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, etc.) were easier and faster to get to, so why bother driving an extra 30 minutes? Though I love road trips, I don’t like being in the car longer than I need to be. But, when I went to Kiawah Island for my birthday last year, I fell in love with the place. I couldn’t wait to go back, and I took off extra days this year to enjoy the island a little longer.

Last year, we made the mistake of planning to eat out for most of the meals. There aren’t many restaurants at Kiawah Island, and they’re all pretty pricey. Luckily, if you stay in a house or villa with a kitchen and plan ahead, you can enjoy home-cooked meals on the island. My sister took the lead on planning an efficient and delicious set of meals for our entire vacation, and she did a fantastic job. I can’t wait to share photos from the weekend of the beach and the eats!

Here are some photos from the first day. We got a later start than we expected on Thursday, so we only had time to enjoy dinner and head to bed. So, I’ll count Thursday night and all day Friday as “day 1″…

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Sis planned a light dinner for Thursday of chickpeas over bulgar.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We had fried plantains for dessert.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

One of my favorite things about Kiawah is the lush scenery. There are tree-covered paths and boardwalks all around. If you stay in the right place, the beach is a short walk away.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

On Friday, we started with fresh-baked zucchini muffins, sausage, and spinach-pepper omelets.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We lucked out on the weather. It was supposed to rain all day, but we caught some sunshine in the morning. It was just enough to hit up the beach for a couple hours.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We thought we may be able to use these beach chairs, but they had reserved signs on them. There was plenty of space on the beach to spread out.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Mine?”

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

For lunch, we had breaded chicken, beans from the garden, and mashed potatoes with vegan gravy.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Yum!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

After lunch, sis and I headed out for a bike ride around the island.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We had pasta for dinner – vegan for dad.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

And sis went above and beyond and baked bread from scratch! She made two loaves of delicious rye bread.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

While dad had vegan pasta with whole wheat noodles, the rest of us had fresh-spaghetti with homemade meatballs.

We were off to a wonderful weekend already! I’ll share the rest of the photos soon!

Thanks for stopping by!

Dumpling Making Party

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My friend Briana had a dumpling making party this weekend, and it was so much fun!

I even went with her to the Grand Asia Market for some pre-party grocery shopping and lunch earlier in the day. You can check out photos of our adventure on either my Facebook or Instagram account.

Dumpling Making Party

As for the dumpling making party, we all got hands on prepping the ingredients, from chopping to mixing. The dumpling filling was made with ground pork, fresh ginger, and bok choy (plus a couple other things, I think). Once everything was prepped, we hand formed hundreds of tiny dumplings. Briana was our lead dumpling making instructor, and she showed us how to fold the dumplings.

Dumpling Making Party

There were two ways to make the dumplings: 1) with the dumpling press and 2) by hand. There are videos for both on my Instagram if you want to see a visual.

I went straight for the by-hand folding. One thing I didn’t realize was that you only fold one side of the dumpling along the top. The back side stays flat/straight. Who knew? Briana family’s method was to start at one side and fold all the way down to the other. Another one of Briana’s friends showed her grandmother’s way, which was to start in the middle and fold outwards, one side at a time. They were both beautiful…once you got the folding down.

Dumpling Making Party

We filled up a few different trays full of beautiful dumplings just waiting to be steamed.

Dumpling Making Party

After a quick trip to the sauna (bamboo steamer)…

Dumpling Making Party

…they were ready to eat!

Dumpling Making Party

Attack! I tell ya, those dumplings did not last long!

Dumpling Making Party

I mean look at them!

Briana made a special dumpling dipping sauce for everyone to enjoy with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and green onion. It was very good and perfect drizzled over those warm dumplings fresh from the steamer.

Dumpling Making Party

After a few rounds of dumplings, we also enjoyed a vegetable stir-fry.

Dumpling Making Party

And for dessert – I ate my first fresh lychee. They were much easier to peel than I expected. Once you got it started, it came off pretty easily.

Dumpling Making Party

And check out my new friend. It’s Beto the beta fish. Isn’t he cute?

Thank you, Briana, for the fun dumpling making party! I can’t wait to make (and eat) more!

One More Outer Banks Trip Recap

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Finally! My last Outer Banks recap. I was hoping to get all of these posts done sooner, but they’re better late than never, I hope. I had a few more photos from our Outer Banks trip that I wanted to share with you guys.

Outer Banks Trip

Mostly sunset photos.

Outer Banks Trip

The family requested that hubby and I make our now famous crock pot chili. Hubby’s sister and family are vegetarian, so we made the whole batch sans meat. The flavor is still great, and the beans keep it filling.

Outer Banks Trip

And to keep things simple, we brought some Great Harvest jalapeño cheddar cornbread, which we sliced and toasted under the broiler. We also had some salad on the side with garden-fresh tomatoes.

Outer Banks Trip

This chili dinner feeds the whole family and is great every year!

Outer Banks Trip

We were hanging outside later when this crazy corgi jumped right up to the top of this picnic table just as pictured. Oh, Bailey!

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And I didn’t quite get the sunset photos I’d hoped for, but here are some from one of the nights:

Outer Banks Trip

Outer Banks Trip

Outer Banks Trip

Outer Banks Trip

Outer Banks Trip

The dogs had fun playing outside. Hubby played frisbee with Bailey while I snapped away on my camera.

Outer Banks Trip

I hoped for one more chance at sunset photos on the last night, but it was so stormy! The wind was blowing like crazy, and the sky was totally overcast and gray.

Outer Banks Trip

We had a great time during our first trip to the Outer Banks. The trip there may not be short, but it’s definitely worth it for the relaxation, beautiful beaches, and yummy food!

Catching up? Here are my other Outer Banks blog posts:

Thanks for reading!

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

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Of all the places I visited in the Outer Banks, Duck, NC was my favorite. The two-lane street that takes you from one area to another in the OBX meanders through the cute cluster of restaurants and shops of Duck. I liked that it seemed less commercialized than some of the other areas. When we passed through, there were pedestrians galore with dozens of people on the sides of the street (I don’t remember seeing sidewalks). It made me want to spend more time exploring the eateries and coffee shops there. We decided to visit AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts on the way to the beach house.

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

AQUA Restaurant is right on the sound, and their porch area is pet-friendly. You also get a great view of the water and the sunset if you go at the right time.

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

To drink, I ordered the HOOKED ON QUACK – Malibu Mango, Malibu Coconut & Fresh Juices. It was perfect for lunch on the water.

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

I had a salad with heirloom tomatoes to start.

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

And for my main dish, I had the crab cake salad with house-cut fries. The sandwich was so delicious, and I loved that the fries had the perfect sprinkle of salt on top.

We had a great lunch at AQUA Restaurant, and the service was wonderful, too! I could see myself eating here multiple times if I were staying a little closer. I also want to take a trip to the spa one day!

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

Look how cute Duck, NC is! We took a stroll down the road to get a quick dessert.

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

We visited Duck Donuts.

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

At the Duck, NC location (there are a couple in the Outer Banks), you order on one side of the building and pick up on the other. If you’re looking for a large display of donuts, you won’t find one. They make all their donuts to order.

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts {Duck, NC}

The donuts were served nice and hot. Hubby got cinnamon sugar, and I got chocolate glazed with rainbow sprinkles. These were delicious and reminded me a bit of those mini doughnuts you can sometimes get at street fairs…but bigger and better!

We had a great time eating at AQUA Restaurant and Duck Donuts. I definitely recommend both if you’re ever in the Outer Banks.

The Inn at Corolla Light

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The house hubby’s mom rented for our beach trip had a Sunday check-in, so we decided to go up a day early and stay at a hotel or B&B. Thanks to TripAdvisor, I found The Inn at Corolla Light, which was pet-friendly and right on the sound in the Outer Banks. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to the Outer Banks, but there are apparently some parts that are easily over eight hours away from us by car. I also liked that this spot was right over six hours, which seems to be the shortest trip for an Outer Banks visit.

The Inn at Corolla Light

The Inn at Corolla Light

I picked this place because of the stellar reviews on TripAdvisor and the gorgeous sunset views right off the back of the B&B. As you saw on my other post, I unfortunately missed my photo op, but I’m still happy with the choice.

The Inn at Corolla Light

This B&B is deceptively large. I think there are as many as 50 rooms! I liked the wooden walkways throughout B&B.

The Inn at Corolla Light

The Inn accommodated our late reservation and even gave us a free upgrade to a room with a view of the sound. If I was to come here again and spend more than one day, I’d strongly consider paying for the upgrade because the view of the sound is so nice and the porch is very relaxing.

As for the rooms, they were comfortable but could use some updating. With a porch like this (pictured above), I’d spend most of my time outside, though. The porch wasn’t fully fenced in so I didn’t let Bailey run around freely, but he did get to enjoy the porch, too. The free wi-fi was a nice perk.

My only disappointment with the Inn was breakfast. I’m no B&B expert, but based on my past experience, my bar was raised pretty high. The Inn at Corolla Light serves an adequate continental breakfast that I find to be on par with most chain hotels. They had all the usual suspects: some cereals, instant oatmeal, bread, bagels, hard boiled eggs, coffee, hot water, milk, yogurt, and sausages. I would have loved to see some scrambled eggs or other hot food options. It also would have been fabulous to see more locally produced items since there are many great small food producers and bakeries around the Outer Banks, but this is more of a personal preference. I will say, the lady who was in charge of breakfast was great. She was constantly moving throughout the breakfast area making sure things were clean and well-stocked. She kept the area pristine. I also really liked the room where breakfast was served. It was so open and bright.

The Inn at Corolla Light

After breakfast, we took Bailey out to the gazebo at the end of the dock.

The Inn at Corolla Light

They have some hanging chairs out here.

The Inn at Corolla Light

I believe the deck is shared with a water activity company that does parasailing, jet skis, etc. Hey, if you’re into that, it couldn’t be more convenient. They’re literally at your back door at The Inn at Corolla Light!

The Inn at Corolla Light

The pool also has a great view of the sound. Since our trip was so short, we didn’t get to enjoy this.

The Inn at Corolla Light

There’s a nature path just off the back of the B&B, perfect for trail runners or anyone who wants to take a relaxing stroll by the water.

The Inn at Corolla Light

One of the best perks of The Inn at Corolla Light is that you get to use the amenities of the Corolla Light Resort. The Inn also has bikes you can use for free. We took a quick bike ride down to the beach access area of the Corolla Light Resort. I didn’t realize there was so much to do there. They had a giant pool, restaurant, and gift shop. The resort was like a tiny village.

The Inn at Corolla Light

The Inn at Corolla Light

As we were chilling under the gazebo taking in the fresh beach breeze, we noticed a family who walked through the gazebo, turned around, and waved upwards. Turns out there’s a camera streaming the beach attached to the front of the gazebo! Click here to view the live surf cam.

The Inn at Corolla Light

My Tips – The Inn at Corolla Light:

  • Personally, I think an upgrade to a sound view is worth it. I’d probably pay for it if we went back, as long as we were staying long enough to enjoy the view.
  • If you’re okay with standard hotel breakfasts (like the buffets they have at most chains) then you’ll be okay with breakfast. If you’re a major foodie, you may want to consider eating out or bringing something with you.
  • The restaurants in Corolla close EARLY (before 9:30pm, depending on the time of year). Don’t wait too long to eat, or you may be picking up a frozen meal at the grocery store to heat in your room. I’d recommend calling ahead to ensure they’re still open. Since we checked in late, we almost missed dinner because all the restaurants we called were already closed. We managed to get pizza at The Tomato Patch, which was open a little later than the others.
  • Be sure to take advantage of the amenities at the Corolla Light Resort – they have a beach, pools (indoor and outdoor), exercise facility, and restaurants, and they’re just down the road.

Before I end, I do want to say that the staff at the Inn at Corolla Light is one of the best I’ve seen. They were so friendly and accommodating throughout all of our interactions, from booking the room to renting the bikes, to check-out. We really felt well taken care of. Great job to the team!

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Have you been to the Outer Banks? Where do you like to stay? Any recommendations?

Thanks for stopping by!

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