WIAW: I finally have a kitchen again

Friends, I spent a total of 8 weeks living out of a hotel while we transitioned from Wilmington to Greenville.  2 months of my life.  Living in a tiny room out of a suitcase.

At first it wasn’t so bad, but as it turns out, I’m SUPER picky and high maintenance, so the arrangement soon began to wear on me.  I bounced around between a couple of different hotels in the area to try to find the “best” one that had my trifecta of a good workout room, some sort of kitchen area, and good wifi (surprisingly difficult to find).  Most hotels had 2/3 but I never found the elusive Hotel Utopia.

Who meeee??

Along with that a combination of not having my own stuff, plus other stresses and emotions that come with finding new jobs and moving had me feeling pretty down.  One major area where I focused my displeasure was not being able to make any of my own food.  I missed cooking.  Eating out for every meal starts to feel a little disgusting, doesn’t it?  I did find a few hotels that had tiny kitchens but that comes with its own set of problems too.  It’s REALLY hard to grocery shop for one person for one workweek.  I ended up overbuying or underbuying, spending way too much on convenience foods, spending too much on stuff like spices and oils that just got thrown away, etc and got really frustrated by the whole ordeal.

I started daydreaming about being able to cook my own freaking dinners.  As I bitterly ate my sad, spiceless meals I would make lists in my head about all the foods that I wanted to eat once we finally got an apartment.  Avocado Toast? ABSOLUTELY.  Eggs that didn’t come from powder, CAN’T WAIT.  Homemade Chiptole bowls?  NO DOUBT.

Then the damndest thing happened.  We got an apartment, I went grocery shopping for our first night there, and was completely overwhelmed and RACKED with indecision about what to make.  WTF, Self.  I wandered the aisles of our Super Target like so:

I had been waiting for this day for what felt like SO LONG.  And I couldn’t even come up with one freaking thing to make.  I eventually pulled myself together and picked something (Pesto Shrimp + Orzo, for anyone interested) and went home to cook.  And it was amazing.

I’m still getting into the swing of buying and preparing food over here, but I’m happy to get some of my favorites back into the mix and thought I’d share that today!  As always, thanks to Jenn for creating WIAW!

WIAW - New

I started the morning off with some hot lemon water.  Oh how I missed my silly little (probably placebo effect) “healthy” rituals.

sorry for the even worse than usual photo quality

Breakfast was my #1 favorite breakfast meal.  Glad to see you, old friend.  Greek Yogurt, strawberries, honey, and Peanut Butter Cheerios.  I threw on some Trader Joe’s Ancient Seed Blend on top just for kicks.


For lunch, I had a salad and I actually enjoyed it.  I totally could have had salads every day while I was forced to eat out for lunch….but given the choice between something hot and non-salad like, I will choose the non-salad every time.

This was a Greek salad of sorts: chicken, feta, cannellini beans, tomato, cucumber, olives, red wine vinaigrette

Dinner was another one of my favorite go-to meals.  Noodles with peanut sauce.  This permutation had pork, snow peas, red pepper, and shredded carrots.


At the end of the day, I also had a (unphotographed) cup of Moose Tracks ice cream.  I say “cup”, not because I measured it, but because I actually ate it out of a drinking cup.  I completely misjudged how many bowls we would need in the apartment and I didn’t have it in me to handwash one.

If you couldn’t cook for two months, what’s the FIRST meal you would make?  What one food item would you miss the most?

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The Best Places to Beach/Eat/Drink in Wilmington, NC

Wellll I planned on recapping our December Asheville trip for this Travel Tuesday, but with all the moving, I am not even close to going through all of the pictures on my camera. So that will have to wait for another day.  Try to contain yourselves.

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If you missed it, we are in the process of moving from Wilmington to Greenville, so I thought it might be a good time to list some of our favorite Wilmington spots before they are all a beloved distant memory and I have no recollection of the beautiful beach dream that I’ve been living (not dramatic at all).  This past weekend was likely my last weekend in Wilmington for the forseeable future, so we spent some time hitting up my favorite spots.

Beaches:

Aka, the best part of the area.  There are three main beaches in the Wilmington area, and even more if you look across the river in Brunswick County or north at Topsail.  For the sake of this post, I’ll focus on the three around Wilmington.

Wrightsville Beach is probably the most popular beach near Wilmington.  It’s easily accessible from downtown (a straight shot on 74), has a ton of restaurants, is home to “The Loop” (a popular running route), has more beach houses than hotels (which helps keep the beach less crowded), and is generally a “nicer” beach.  You will also see more boats and activities like kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, thanks to the lovely Intracoastal Waterway.  If you are looking to really explore Wilmington and/or are an active vacationer, Wrightsville is your jam.

Look at all that empty sand space

 

The Intracoastal.  via

Carolina Beach is a little further away from Wilmington proper and is more….touristy?  than Wrightsville.  There are more souvenir shops, kitschy beach themed restaurants/buffets and bars, more high rise hotels, etc etc.  This reminds me of the beaches that I would vacation at as a kid.  There is a boardwalk with an arcade and a small amusement park.  Definitely a family vacation vibe.  If you have kiddos on board, Carolina is a winner.

My hot dogs hanging out at Carolina Beach

Kure Beach is just past Carolina Beach and is the quietest of all three.  It has less restaurants (but still enough to get you by) and shops than either Wrightsville or Carolina.  There is also free parking so Nick and I hit this beach a lot (is there any harder pill to swallow than having to pay for parking at the beach where you live?  In Virginia Beach there are some lots where you can park for free as a resident, get with it Wrightsville.).  If you plan to be a total beach bum and want quiet and serenity, Kure is the beach for you.

Eats:

Oh, the food.  The glorious, glorious food.

This is definitely one of the things I will miss MOST about Wilmington.  For the first six months we lived here, we talked nonstop about how much we loved the weather and the food.  We couldn’t shut up about it.  We annoyed and alienated all of our friends.  But it’s ok, because we filled that void with MORE FOOD.

Fish Bites – This isn’t a surprise to anyone that knows us.  This is stop 1 on our Wilmington tour when people visit us.  Fish Bites is very unassuming, it’s in a shopping center in the middle of Wilmington, far from downtown or any of the beaches.  But it’s our number 1 recommendation if you are looking for simple seafood.  We had family members want to go here 3 times in one long weekend visit, it’s that good.  Their fresh catch is my default choice, and I highly recommend the coconut sauce with that (unless it’s tuna).  They also serve raw oysters during oyster season that are delicious if that’s yo thing.  The mussels appetizer, the crab dip, the zucchini fries, all amazing.  I could go on and on about this place, but I’ll spare you.  Just be sure to go.  We tell everyone we know about it and have never gotten anything less than glowing reviews in return.

 

Delicious, free corn muffins
Salmon and zucchini fries for me, Scallops and mixed vegetables for Nick

Catch – Catch is located on Market St., also in a shopping center and not near downtown or the beaches (I guess I have a type?).  The chef was featured on Top Chef Texas and is a bit of a local celebrity.  It’s a bit more expensive than Fish Bites (~$30 per entree) but the food is a little more high end/modern/creative as well.  Their menu changes frequently, so my recommendations are probably useless, but their asian-ish entrees are always amazing.

Las Olas – Mexican food is my favorite food.  Period, the end.  And for me, Mexican food really comes down to the salsa, and the salsa here is FANTASTIC.  It’s super fresh and super cilantro-y.  Their seafood tacos are amazing, and you have to get the Street Corn as a side.  Nick and I used to live across the street from this place when we first moved to Wilmington, and I could have eaten here weekly.  Or daily.  The owners of this restaurant own a couple other in the area, I’ve tried k38, but not Tower (which is located in Wrightsville), and it was just as good.

Britt’s Donuts – I will preface this recommendation by saying I don’t even like donuts.  Whaaat?  I know.  But here I am, recommending a donut joint.  We heard about Britt’s from our apartment maintenance manager when we first moved here, and after the conversation I promptly forgot all about it, because I am anti-donut.  We were checking out Carolina Beach a week or so later and walked right by it and I was all “oh yeah, that’s that donut place that guy was telling us about.”  We were between meals and decided just to have one each to see what the BFD was.  OMG IT WAS HEAVEN.  These are the lightest, sweetest, fluffiest donuts you will ever have in your entire life.  They only make one kind, but it’s the only kind you will ever need.  They created the absolute perfect donut and it would be an insult to you to serve you anything else.  There is usually a line all down the boardwalk during the summer, but it’s worth it.  I recommend getting at least half a dozen per person.  My brother-in-law holds the current record of eating an ENTIRE dozen in one day.

Nick and I got a half dozen for a between meals snack
Oh baby
Looookk at it

 

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This is what the line looks like at 2 pm

Mott’s Seafood Channel – I know, this isn’t even a restaurant, but it is hands down the best fish market in Wilmington.  If you are visiting and have access to a kitchen, do yourself the kindest favor you possibly can and make dinner in one night.  And buy that dinner at Mott’s Seafood.  It’s located near Wrightsville Beach, and after trying a ton of different fish markets in the area, it’s the only one we go to now.  Their seafood is always SO fresh, and we have fun trying all kind of different things according to what’s in season.  The employees are especially helpful and we always ask what is the freshest/what looks good.  If you happen to be visiting between October and May GET THE STUMP OYSTERS if they have them.

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Look at the color on the tuna (far right)
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We went with Wahoo and Tuna and both were amazing

SO, those are my “must-do” places in the Wilmington area, and now I’ve successfully bummed myself out about not being able to visit them again.

I’m going to go be sad about not living at the beach anymore, K bye.

 

This post is part of the Travel Tuesday linkup!

Random Friday #16

WELL I am back in Wilmington for the weekend and just completed my last drive this way (from Greenville) for the forseeable future.  We had a whirlwind of a week and visited some new home sites, signed an apartment lease, picked up the keys, bought a new mattress, etc.  I think we did something every night this week, which is my least favorite kind of week.

But I’m doing ok, lest you think I’m perishing under the pressure of an easy routine move where a lot of things are taken care of for us, because starting on Sunday we will be in a new permanent(ish) apartment and my time in hotels is coming to a sweet end.  I will have an actual kitchen and my own bed and I won’t have to eat breakfast with a room of strangers.  Life is good.

On a sad note, it’s my last weekend in Wilmington for a while.  I’m planning on hitting the beach and saying a long goodbye and having an epic Wilmington food fest.

Reading:  Hahaha, nah, nothing to see here.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to read more starting next week when my life will be stable.  I don’t even have any interesting articles to share.  The only thing my brain was able to handle this week was scrolling through Instagram and looking at pretty pictures.

On that note, my new favorite instagram follow is Ina Garten.  I feel like she likes to get down (at least for a rich white woman who lives in the Hamptons).

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If I know Jeffrey, he is EXCITED.

 

Watching: GAME OF THRONES.  Warning, spoilers ahead.  

OMG Why is Jon Snow still dead.  Nick and I totally thought the last scene of the episode would be him coming back to life.  Ghost’s wailing really bummed me out.  And thank fuck something halfway decent actually happened to Sansa.  I love Brienne.  And I have such mixed feelings about halfway liking Theon/Reek in this episode.  It’s such a different experience to watch the show without having any sort of a clue about what’s coming.  I kind of hate it but it’s kind of exhilarating.

Listening: I’m really giving away exactly how lame I am with this admission, but I’ve been in an late 80’s/early 90’s country kind of mood.  I downloaded a few Randy Travis and Travis Tritt songs.  My fav being “I’m gonna be somebody”.

travis tritt
This mullet has NOTHING on my 8 yr old mullet.

Eating: Well it was more hotel food this week.  I intended to do a WIAW this week to show all of my hotel meals, but I got as far as taking a pic of my breakfast and promptly forgot to take a pic of lunch.  Sorry, though you probably dodged a bullet there.  Anyway, here is my crappy breakfast.

Greek yogurt, tomato slices and a piece of toast with cheese and a (probably fake) egg patty on top.

Traveling:  I started my list of things to do.  I got like two items on the list for our first location, but considering all of the other shit we did this week, I think I totally deserve a pat on the back.

Or a five, whatever.


Workouts:  I worked out once this week.  ONCE.  And that is all I have to say about that.  I’m so looking forward to being in a more stable routine next week.

 

What is your favorite item at a typical hotel breakfast buffet?  What key things do I need to remember to bring at our new apartment?  Will you help me pack?