The concept for Grocery Concierge was based on our travel experiences. I dreamed of checking into our vacation rental unit and seeing the food and beverages we were going to enjoy during the week already in the unit. The idea that vacation could start IMMEDIATELY, not after hours of shopping and unloading, sounded like heaven or at least sounded like a vacation.
As an organizing professional and event planner, I tend to plan EVERYTHING! I make a packing list for every trip-the clothes, the shoes, the jewelry, or accessories I will need. I research area attractions and plan which days to go based on current weather forecasts. And of course, I pre-plan meals and make a grocery shopping list. I created this Vacation Meal Ideas document just for such occasions. I hope you find it helpful as you begin to plan your next vacation.
Having now operated Grocery Concierge in Navarre Beach since July 2019, I am familiar with most family’s grocery lists. During the week most will have Taco Night, Pasta Night, and depending on the type of grill available to them either Burgers or Hot Dogs with Chips or Steaks with Baked Potatoes for Dinner. Lunches are usually Sandwiches, and Frozen Pizzas and Breakfasts include Donuts, Cinnamon Rolls, Bacon & Eggs. PLEASE VISIT MY WEBSITE AND CHECK OUT FREE RESOURCES (under Grocery Delivery). Here are some pages that will help you plan better—Breakfast Ideas, Pasta Night, Taco Night, even Drink Ideas.
1) Consider any special diet needs (food allergies, or major dislikes) of your travel companions. Always be considerate of each other’s needs and be willing to try new foods and flavors.
2) Pre-plan meals so that you can utilize ingredients multiple times. For example, Rotisserie Chicken can be purchased and used to make either Tex Mex entrees (fajitas, quesadilla, tortilla soup) or for Pasta Night (Carbonara, Alfredo). Tortillas can be used for Tex Mex dinners and Breakfast Tacos or as a Sandwich Wrap.
3) If traveling with kids and teenagers, purchase snack foods in the LARGEST containers. The amount of snack items needed on a vacation is often underestimated! Kids get hungry playing on the beach all day and everyone enjoys snacks during games or movies in the evening. COVID precaution: Individually packaged treats are recommended. Take any leftovers in the car for the drive home or put them in your carry-on bags for snacking on the plane.
4) Purchase condiments (mustard, mayo, ketchup, salad dressings) in the smallest size possible to avoid throwing away leftovers at the end of your trip. Sometimes it is hard to find smaller sizes as your personal shopper we are going to consider the number of guests as well as the number of days you are staying. We will make an extra stop at the dollar store for a smaller size so that the couple staying for a long weekend doesn’t have to throw away an almost full bottle of laundry soap.
5) Plan for easy clean-up (YOU’RE ON VACATION)! Paper plates, plastic knives, forks, spoons, and cups mean no one is washing dishes. Foil is great for lining baking sheets, steaming fish, and veggies on the grill or in the oven and you can even crumple some to make a grill cleaner for the public grill by the pool. Plastic wrap or storage bags help to keep foods fresh in the refrigerator. And if you are going to be using a crockpot, purchase the liners and just toss when you are done.
6) Don’t forget the nonperishable items. Most vacation rentals only provide an initial amount and unlike hotels, you can’t just go to the front desk for more. Nonperishables include paper products (TP, Kleenex, paper towels, paper plates, napkins, plastic cups/K, F, S) storage (plastic wrap, foil, ziplock), cleaning (dishwashing soap, laundry detergent) as well as personal care (sunscreen and after-sun lotion, hand soap, shampoo, etc.)
Some families that travel frequently have created a “bin” of these items. Below is a picture of a laundry basket filled with items and you can use our Basic Set-Up List to shop at your local dollar store for small sizes or load with extra items from your home.
If you are flying into your vacation destination, be sure these items are on your shopping list.
7) Check the type of grill available before making your list. If the grill is charcoal, I suggest getting pre-soaked briquettes, plus matches or lighter. If you don’t have a grill you may have to adjust your cooking method (broiling or high heat in the oven) or your items (hot dogs and burgers instead of steaks or grilled chicken).
8) Once you arrive you can check out your unit’s cooking utensils. Look at the size of pots and pans, as well as any baking pans you may need. I mentioned in my last Blog post—Thrift Shopping on Vacation that you can pick up large glass casserole dishes and other kitchen essentials for just a couple of dollars if your vacation rental unit does not have what you need.
9) Vacation always ends too soon, but at least you gained the first day when you used Grocery Concierge. Most rental units have a 10 am check out and your last morning can feel rushed. Depending on your drive time, we’ve seen families leave as early as 5 am. You don’t want to clean out food early in the morning. Plan for this the day before. Keep items that can be used for breakfast (milk, juices, fruit, bread items) or taken for snacks, but try to use up and clean out the rest of the food. If you have unopened nonperishable items, you can request a Donation Pick Up and we return to the unit to remove the items and donate them to our local We Care Food Pantry.
Our best advice is to take some time to review other Blog posts about Vacation Planning on our website.
1 Month in advance: Start researching local attractions and arrange for delivery BEFORE YOU ARRIVE with Grocery Concierge. You’ll appreciate the hours saved as soon as you open the door!
1 Week in advance: Submit your Shopping list and decide which local restaurants you want to support and see if you need to make reservations. While at the beach, I encourage you to visit local restaurants that serve FRESH & IN SEASON seafood and to order some for delivery (only Grocery Concierge can shop local specialty stores for you).
Please support locally owned and operated businesses when you travel. You are helping the local economy and experiencing the culture through the food.
Thrift Shopping is fun for both residents and visitors looking to add to their collectibles or vintage items, bargain hunters looking to snatch up top quality items for a minimal price, and sustainability advocates that know items can be repurposed many times over. Thrift stores have something for everyone and the money generated by the stores’ fund other community projects.
I started volunteering at The Good Neighbor Thrift Store in Navarre in October 2020. This store is an outreach of the Navarre United Methodist Church and funds the We Care Ministry and the Lindy Bush Food Pantry. As a service to Grocery-Concierge customers staying on Navarre Beach, I offer to pick up any unused food items and donate them to the local Food Pantry. This service helps the families to quickly pack up and clean out their rental units and reduces waste at the condo units and county disposal sites.
Pictured below is a donation of fresh items I delivered and then picked up for donation. The food pantry was able to give these items out to families this summer and many of the items were special treats for the families. (Donation occurred before branding change—Organized Occasions Concierge is now Grocery Concierge.)
Grocery Concierge Food Donation Program for Visitors
I interviewed the store manager, Laura Beth Snow, to find out more about the store, its customers, and how the funds raised help families in Navarre.
Fun Facts: The current store location was purchased and moved into in August of 2011. The store’s profits are used to fund the We Care Ministry and the Lindy Bush Food Pantry as well as other mission projects of the church.
Began as Kitchen Aide Ministry in 1990, the name changed to Salt & Soul and eventually to We Care in 1997. We Care assists families with utilities, housing, food, and prescriptions. Contact information is below if you know a family that needs assistance.
Over the years many faithful volunteers have given of their time and often donations to help this vital ministry. One extraordinary volunteer was Lindy Bush and his wife, Sue. Lindy’s passion to work at and keep the food pantry supplied often meant volunteering over 30 hours per week. Lindy passed away in 2015 at the age of 87, and soon thereafter the We Care Board of Directors voted to name the food pantry, The Lindy Bush Food Pantry. His work continues to inspire those who serve each week at the Good Neighbor Thrift Store and We Care Ministry. (A special thanks to Lorraine Taylor, Linda Germany, and Sue Bush for the background information.)
Currently, the Lindy Bush Food Pantry provides food to 12 families per week. Each family receives all the ingredients needed for 3 family dinners (recipe cards included). Having volunteered at other food pantries I am so glad the food is not just a box of random items but is packaged to provide all the ingredients needed for family meals. If you have read some of my other blogs you know I am a big proponent of families sharing meals and preparing home-cooked meals for both the nutritional value and the social and emotional benefits to all members of the family.
Thrift Shopping on Vacation
Is there such a thing as “thrift tourism”? Absolutely! You may be looking for unique souvenirs or thoughtful gifts at a fraction of the price. You may NEED a piece of clothing if the weather changes suddenly and unlike most retail stores, thrift stores are filled with items to wear right now not “next season”. And you may just want something to do on a rainy afternoon when you can’t play on the beach.
When you go thrift store shopping you should be both “open to possibilities” and “shop with a plan”.
Remember that thrift stores have unique items and usually only one of them. You may find a vintage edition of your best friend’s favorite book or a piece of vintage Fiesta ware in the perfect shade, but if you need a larger size pair of Lucky Jeans, you may be out of luck!
Keep a list of things you would like to find while traveling and BOLO (be on the lookout). Here are a few ideas:
Metal Signs (I am looking for beer signs for my son—if you see any, let me know!)
Mid-century Barware or Tableware
Vintage Dishware (Fiesta, Chinoiserie, Pyrex)
Candlesticks and Vases
Shopping stores away from home will give you the chance to experience the area like a local, while also finding different items that you would never find back home. You’ll never find “beachy items” back in the mountains of Colorado.
One of the more unique things about shopping at a thrift store in a vacation spot is that many of the customers are looking for items they NEED or WANT in their vacation rental unit. For instance, if you are staying in a beach condo and would like to make a large lasagna but there is not a large glass casserole dish, you may be able to pick up one at the thrift store for just a couple of dollars.
Other vacation items may include paperback books (go ahead and read a cheap romance novel while resting under the beach umbrella) games and puzzles for the kids to enjoy at night, and a wide range of DVDs. If you are a crafter you may find some fabric or needlepoint projects to take home at a fraction of the price.
If the weather turns bad and you need a sweater or if you forgot to pack a pair of shoes to wear to dinner, check out the local thrift store for in-season items. You know you have plenty of sweaters back home, but everyone needs something to wear today and you may find you score a high-quality piece of clothing at a bargain price! If you strike out at the thrift store, you can still visit the local souvenir shop or department store.
Supporting local thrift stores can be fun for the whole family. Just remember to “Mask Up” before heading into the store and take your time. Now is not the time to “power-shop” but instead browse and stroll and find some treasures (like a pirate! Ahoy Mates!)
Thrift Shopping and Donating Tips for Residents
Season Change-Donations Increase- When families are spring cleaning or clearing out space for new items after the holidays, they donate A LOT so inventory is best at those times.
Inventory is Constantly Changing- almost every item is “one of a kind” so if you see it and like it today, buy it today. The worst case is the item doesn’t fit, or the colors aren’t just what you wanted and you have to donate it back (remember you are helping others in the community with your purchases).
Pay attention to Store Sales-stores often have monthly sales or at least put something on sale each day. If you are lucky to be in the store during one of these sales, take full advantage!
Broke is Broke—All electronics are checked before being put out on the floor and broken items are disposed of. Please save the volunteers time by not donating items that need repair. Unfortunately, we do not have the time or space to repair items before putting them out for sale.
Donate items that are clean, free of stains, and not torn or damaged—Again due to limited space and time we cannot clean up kitchen items (George Foreman grills, waffle makers, blenders) and we only sell towels and linens that are in good condition.
Know which items sell fastest-Women’s Blouses (about 1/3 of the store income is from ladies’ tops). Metal Pots & Pans. Linens. Home Décor (wall art, pictures, lamps, small furniture). Mixed Dishes and Glasses (NOT china sets). Infant Clothes. Craft Items (quilting/sewing, needlework, ribbon, yarn). These are the items most appreciated when donated.
Bring items to donate when you come to shop-this helps you to assess what you have and to avoid overfilling your home with unnecessary items. As a professional home organizer, I recommend using the 1 in and 1 out rule, or if you are trying to reduce your items, 2 items out for every 1 item brought in. Your donations help keep the store stocked with new items for other shoppers and you’ll also feel like you did a good deed even if you don’t get a good deal on this visit.
Do you enjoy sorting and organizing? You may be surprised by the number of donations a store receives and all items must be sorted and checked before being placed in the store to sell. Your time could be used sorting kitchen items (knife sets & blocks, glasses, dishes) clothing (men’s, women’s, and children’s) accessories (shoes, belts, purses, sunglasses) home & holiday décor, and sporting goods. Since COVID-19 many of the retirees that filled these volunteer positions are unable to assist at this time. Ask about volunteer opportunities the next time you visit one of your local thrift stores. Typically volunteers give 3 to 4 hours at a time once or twice a week.
I hope you enjoy learning about options available for Thrift Tourism in Navarre and the surrounding area. Unlike other retail your purchases your dollars are multiplied many times over to benefit others in the community. Thank you and happy shopping!
Meal Planning for Vacation: Tips & Tricks to Eating Well
If I asked you “What does eating well while on vacation mean, what would you say?”
Eating all the junk food I want.
Eating out every meal.
Eating local and fresh items.
Eating healthy, fresh, colorful foods from the local farmer’s market.
Eating favorite foods with friends and family.
That’s the dilemma—everyone’s definition is a little different. And if you are like most Americans, the past few months you have spent more time cooking and eating at home. And vacation seems the best time to eat out, but if you are traveling to someplace new, you don’t know what’s available or how long to expect to wait, and ultimately, is it going to be any good?
This article is going to focus on ideas for cooking and EATING IN instead of recommending local restaurants because I want you to be able to use these ideas anywhere–on your favorite beach, at a lake house or a cool mountaintop cabin.
I will still shamelessly promoteGrocery Conciergeand even include a sample order form, vacation meal ideas, and recipes. These are just guides designed to help you be more creative. You have your family favorites to consider and of course your budget.
The advantage of using a service like Grocery Concierge is that you save hours driving to and from the store, parking, shopping, loading & unloading groceries. Doesn’t it always seem like vacation days fly by and you want to enjoy every moment of your vacation? Extra time to relax on the beach, to take a boat ride, or read a book in the shade. Are you willing to pay someone else to grocery shop for you to have those extra hours? Do you want to get everything you need to enjoy the week, and not be the one stuck doing all the work? Then schedule delivery and
START YOUR VACATION SOONER!
I encourage you to visit locally owned and operated restaurants. Most chambers offer lists of local restaurants and many locations have visitors’ guides.
In Navarre, you can find information on the Navarre Beach Chamber’s website and membership directory
and our county Tourist Development office puts out a visitor’s guide as well (available in print and online) on its website: https://www.getrelaxing.com/
Also remember, as of today, most restaurants are still only allowed to operate at limited capacity, so you may experience longer wait times. Please be patient and respectful of other diners in terms of physical distancing. Look for ones offering outdoor dining for more open-air options and be sure to follow requirements for shirts or cover-ups, and shoes.
Flip flops count as shoes at the beach!
One of the benefits of staying at a vacation rental unit is that you can control the contents of your diet and your expenses better than if you stay in a hotel. You can be more specific about the beer, wine, and alcohol brands you select as well as the brand of peanut butter and toilet paper!
And speaking of wine, as a Boisset Ambassador I can help you select wine for your vacation, and ship to you. If coming to Navarre, I can receive it and deliver it to you when you arrive.
Since I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, I find it relaxing to chop and prep while listening to the waves or playing some Jimmy Buffet tunes on my Bluetooth speaker. Somehow being in a different setting makes it seem more fun—and it is a great time to talk and catch up with the family and friends who have joined us at the beach.
Here is a breakdown of how I typically plan my vacation week in terms of days to eat in and to eat out for the various length of stays.
Day 1 (arrive)
Day 7 (depart)
A Couple’s Weekend Getaway is the evening of Day 1, Day 2, and depart on Day 3 after breakfast
A Family Vacation can be 6 nights or less with most check-ins allowed after 4 pm (Day 1-Dinner) and check out required at 10 am (Last Day-Breakfast).
During a typical week on days when eating lunch out, I plan to also visit local attractions or shop for souvenirs. If I’m going to go to the trouble to put on makeup and style my hair, I might as well show it off for a bit! But if I am hanging out on the beach all day, I will wait to do all that until ready to head out for dinner. I know my women readers understand!
And by having not only having a plan but also having all the items you need on-hand, you can easily adjust the days as needed due to weather.
Vacation Strategies to Stress Less, Relax More and Eat Well
Use these for faster meal prep, tastier meals, and more time with friends and family.
Start planning with your family’s favorites—you know them by heart and you’ve probably figured out ways to make them quickly and easily. Now just add some “extras” to change it up for the area. For example, if your family loves tacos, and you’re at the beach, make the traditional beef tacos and add fresh shrimp salsa or make fish tacos instead.
Plan on using basic kitchen tools—check beforehand if the unit has a crockpot or blender—if not and you can bring your own, do it. I took a crockpot and a bread machine to Colorado for a week’s vacation and we ate really well (Pot Roast, Chili with “homemade bread”), but I didn’t spend much time fixing the meals, just enjoying them with friends and family. If you don’t want to do a lot of extra chopping, buy pre-chopped produce and a Rotisserie chicken is very versatile.
When planning your meals look for recipes that use similar ingredients, so you aren’t buying an entire jar of something for just one recipe. And be willing to substitute—can green onions work for shallots?
Reinvent leftovers and have a “use it up” day built into your plan.
Shop Local & try new things—look for local seafood shops, local produce, and even local spices to use to make your meals more exciting and interesting.
Look for inspiration before planning menus (Cookbooks, Magazines, even Meal Kits) We had an Orzo and Shrimp dish in one of the meal kits that we now always have at the beach and the bigger, fresher shrimp make it even better. Below is a picture of a recipe I found online—Pineapple Shrimp Boat—it’s more fun eating out of the pineapple boat than just on a plate!
Double-check each recipe to be sure you have a complete list of the items needed and place your order. The hard part is done—now you can relax and have some fun!
I typically suggesting planning to eat in your unit since for most families not having to get everyone up and into the car at a specific time is much preferred when teenagers want to sleep late or you just want to sip coffee and enjoy the view!
I have a list of Breakfast Ideas on my website you can use for ideas. I also like to make a big batch of sausage balls the first morning, so they are ready for anyone to grab a few to add to other breakfast foods during the week.
Add canned green chilis to add extra spice. It can be doubled or tripled if needed for a large group.
Bloody Mary Bar
Bloody Mary Mix (Zing Zang or homemade recipe)
Vodka (plain or flavored—Pepper, Pickle, Lime or Lemon) * *750 ml bottle = 16 servings (1.5 oz)
Condiments: Celery Sticks, Carrot Sticks, Olives (stuffed: pimento, blue cheese, jalapeno), Pickled Okra, Asparagus & Green Beans, Lemon and Lime wedges, Hot Sauces (Tabasco, Frank’s), spices (Old Bay, Tony Chachere’s) Salt & Pepper to rim the glasses
Juices-Orange, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Pomegranate, Cranberry**Fresh Squeezed is best or Simply brand –no pulp preferred.
Fruit-Seasonal Berries, Sliced peaches (fresh or frozen), Seasonal Melon
*Be sure to eat lots of fresh fruit and juices. These will help provide additional water and it is easy to become dehydrated at the beach.
Eat-in on days when you are going to be near your unit. The ideas I am sharing are nothing new and don’t require much cooking. Since it’s a vacation I like to add a few extras—UPGRADES!
If you are spending your day, on the beach, I encourage you to rinse off the sand, and sunscreen before going up for lunch so you don’t track it back into your unit. Just be sure to reapply the sunscreen for the afternoon when the burning rays are at their worst! Another use for the shot glass—according to the American Academy of Dermatology, a shot glass (1 oz) is the amount of sunscreen that needs to be applied to average adult to fully cover and prevent burning and possible skin cancer!
Hot Dog Bar-who doesn’t love hot grilled dogs, with all the trimmings?!
Favorite Sliced Deli Meats—Boar’s Head is my personal favorite brand-Turkey, Ham, Chicken, Roast Beef, Salami, Bologna
An assortment of Sliced Cheeses (Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Swiss, Provolone, Gouda)
Lettuce or Spinach, Sliced Tomato, Sliced Onion, Thin Sliced Cucumbers, and Bell Peppers, Sliced Black Olives and Sliced Pepperoncini’s, and Avocado
Sliced Bread and Buns
Condiments: Mustard, Mayo
Side Items: pasta or potato salad, pickle spears, chips,
Washed Green & Red leaf lettuce, spring mix, or combination of lettuces
Chef or Club Salads can be made using deli meat, hard-boiled eggs, and bacon
Tuna Salad made with either leftover cooked tuna or high-grade canned Albacore tuna packed in water, add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt & pepper to freshen up. Add onion, celery, relish as desire. Mayo and touch of Dijon mustard.
Chicken Salad—every family has a favorite recipe! Try using Rotisserie chicken instead of canned chicken or try adding grapes, dried cranberries, nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews) for a new favorite.
*** Tip: Wash and trim up all vegetables at one time. Slice & dice for recipes and then put in sandwich storage bags-label bags (Sharpie pen) so everyone knows if available to use or off-limits.
Baked Potato Bar
Wash Baking Potatoes, rub with oil, sprinkle with coarse ground salt and wrap in foil. Bake at 400 approximately an hour-should be able to squeeze and tell done.
Toppings: Butter, Sour Cream, Crumbled Bacon, Grated Cheddar Cheese, Chopped Chives or Green Onion Tops, chopped BBQ brisket or pulled pork, Chili
Assorted Crackers and Bread
Chips & Dips: lots and lots of different chips, and at least 2 favorite dips (French Onion, Ranch, Avocado-Ranch, Queso, Bean Dip, Hummus, Salsa)
***Option: If traveling with couples or all adults, have each be responsible for making one night’s dinner. Just be sure all items needed are included on the list.
Crock Pot Ideas
Season a boneless pork butt shoulder, add 1 cup water, cook in crockpot on LOW 6-8 hrs, or HIGH 4-5 hrs. Place on large cutting board, let rest 10-15 minutes, then chop, pull, slice, and add BBQ sauce as desired.
Serve on butter and toasted Hamburger Buns
Sides: Tator Tots, Pasta or Potato Salad, Slaw, Baked Beans, Corn
Brown Sausage, place in a crockpot.
Add sliced Onion, Peppers & Mushrooms
Cover with favorite Pasta Sauce (tomato), Cook on LOW 6 hrs.
Serve over cooked Pasta with Green or Greek Salad, and Hot Artisan Bread
Beef Pot Roast (depending on the time of year and location this may or may not be appealing)
Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, Onion, Salt & Pepper
Add 1 – 2 cups of water. Cover and Cook LOW 6-8 hrs, HIGH 4-6 hrs.
Remove meat and vegetables from crockpot and thicken gravy with flour or cornstarch.
Serve with Dinner Rolls
Tex Mex Ideas
Taco Bar or Taco Salads
Taco Soup made in the crockpot (several recipes available online for both chicken and beef-based)
Chicken Fajitas from Rotisserie Chicken with sautéed onions and peppers. Pull chicken from bones, slice and saute’ in oil with Fajita Seasoning add peppers and onions. Toss in a few fresh peeled shrimps to UPGRADE your fajitas. Squeeze a wedge of lime over, and serve with flour tortillas, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, sliced avocado.
Use fresh pasta found in the refrigerated section for faster cooking.
Meats: Ground Beef or Turkey, Ground Italian Sausage, Grilled Chicken Breast or Rotisserie Chicken, Fresh Shrimp (peeled)
Sauces: Family Favorite Spaghetti Sauce, Marinara & Alfredo (canned and refrigerated options), Carbonara (Pancetta or Bacon, Garlic, Eggs, Grated Parmesan Cheese), Piccata (Lemon, Butter, Capers)
Frozen Lasagna UPGRADE: Stouffer’s makes a family size lasagna that is good on its own. But try this idea—called Lifesaver Lasagna from Anne Bryn’s Saves the Day Cookbook (pg 143). My sister and I purchased this cookbook in 2014—we have served lasagna like this ever since.
Thaw lasagna 1 hr on the counter. Preheat oven to 350. Make a Bechamel sauce. Put lasagna in a casserole dish and pour Bechamel over. Top with ½ cup grated parmesan cheese. Cook 45 minutes, let rest for 20 before cutting to serve.
The local seafood market should be able to tell you what has come in fresh and how each fish will taste and cook. Depending on your recipe you can get light flaky white fish or more dense and fleshy fish.
Most seafood markets will offer to steam shrimp, crab legs, and possibly even potatoes, corn, and sausage for a “low country boil” for you. Add a fresh garden salad or slaw and crusty French bread and you are all set!
Snacks or Appetizers
This is one of those recipes that looks “fancy” but once you’ve made it a couple of times you can easily do without a recipe. This makes a big tray, so it will last for several days to supply that “bite of something” while waiting on everyone to get ready to go to dinner or waiting for guys to bring up stuff from the grill, and of course for the late-night card and board games.
Of course, you need to consider if anyone has nut allergies, but if not, I suggest some plain or salted, some spicy, and some honey roasted to satisfy everyone’s preference. If allergies are a problem, look for snack mixes (Chex Mix) that don’t include nuts.
There’s nothing better than the smell of fresh-baked cookies so I always add a few of “break & bake” to my grocery list for vacation. Are they as good as homemade? Yes, they are when you don’t want to spend hours baking and still want a treat. Plus you can do just a few at a time and always have them hot and fresh!
I suggest buying a disposable 8 x 8-inch pan to bake up a batch of brownies. And get creative with toppings like mini marshmallows, nuts, caramel, or chocolate sauce to top right when removing from the oven. Then add some ice cream! A treat the whole family will love.
Pillsbury offers a recipe online for easy Fruit Pizza, but I have found that I can use the Philadelphia brand Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Cream Cheese for the topping and it works great (don’t have to soften and blend sugar and cream cheese). I do recommend using the parchment paper for both easy cleanups and to keep the dough from sticking to the pan. And if you have Wax Paper that is great to use to press the dough and keep it off your fingers.
Instead of 1 large pizza, you might consider making more “personal size” pizzas –think 3 to 4 times normal sugar cookie size. This can be a fun exercise for everyone to get to assemble their own dessert pizza.
Be sure you have bite-size fruit and instead of the apple jelly as suggested in the recipe, drizzle chocolate or caramel sauce over top. Another reason to make smaller pizzas is that once you top with cream cheese and fruit, you will have to store in the refrigerator which can be a problem if trying to find space for a large pan. Also, some fruits will turn brown (bananas, apples) so they won’t look very appetizing the next day. Smaller pizzas can be made as wanted and always be fresh, not soggy!
Be careful with bottles—no glass allowed at the beach and not recommended for boating. Google search for local taprooms and any local breweries and stop by for a flight or pick up some to try and experience the local flavors. It’s amazing to me how different beers can be depending on where they are brewed!
As you already know I am a Boisset Ambassador, and my love of wine goes back many years! My two favorite places to be are a beach or a winery!
Some of my favorite white wines for the beach are Sauvignon Blanc, Rose’,Pinot Grigio, Albarino, and a lesser-known French varietal called Piquepoul Blanc that a Texas winery, McPherson Cellars makes an outstanding one. These are wines with higher acidity and go well with seafood, salads, grilled vegetables—think southern France—Provence, Saint-Tropez, Cannes, the French Riviera.
As for red wine, I recommend CA Pinot Noirs since they are typically more fruit-forward and less earthy than OR ones or go with a Red Blend. If you are in a cabin in Colorado or Utah and enjoy sipping on a fuller red wine around the campfire, go for it.
Again, be careful with bottles—do not take on the beach! You may have to pour the bottle into a plastic container to transport to the beach or on the boat. And yes, I have bought box wine for boat trips—and they are just fine for that.
Also depending on the temperature and if enjoying inside or outside, put a bottle of red in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to chill down a little (optimally between 65 and 70 degrees) so that the heat doesn’t make the alcohol seem so heavy.
Be sure to include any garnish needed like lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, or olives. And if you’d like some easy drink ideas with a limited number of ingredients and able to make non-alcoholic, click HERE!
I hope this has given you some new ideas for your next vacation. To review and download a sample of the Vacation Menu Planner and a sample of the Long List Grocery Order with the items for the meals on the planner, please click here and see how it all comes together from idea to order form.
If you are coming to Navarre Beach on vacation and would like to arrive and have your groceries in the unit, please contact me and let me know your arrival date. I look forward to helping you EAT WELL ON VACATION!
When the theme of the 2020 Navarre Beach Mardi Gras parade was announced as Beach Life, many of the float designers started thinking about sea life both above and below the water. But for Gail Smith with Springhill Suites Navarre Beach, their float could only be about one thing—Beach Weddings! You see Navarre Beach is a prime destination for beach weddings.
So, Gail and the team at Springhill set about building a float that a couple could get married on DURING THE PARADE!
Gail’s creativity was recognized and rewarded as Springhill Suites won the Commercial category in the parade judging and one very happy couple began their journey together as husband and wife.
According to the stats from Santa Rosa County Clerk’s office (South end) over 550 marriage licenses were issued in 2019. And if I had to guess… over 500 of those occurred on the beach! (Several pastors and officiants have told me they have not performed any weddings in churches, or they only perform weddings inside as a backup location) If an average wedding costs $3000, then we are looking at a million-dollar-plus industry.
Of course, not everyone wants to be married in front of 40,000 strangers, so what is it like to get married on Navarre Beach? I asked several wedding planners and consultants to share their knowledge and guide us in the requirements as well as the joy of getting married on Navarre Beach. Everyone that contributed information and pictures is mentioned at the end of the article with contact information and website links😊.
Marriage Licenses: According to Visit Florida, visiting couples need to go together to the nearest clerk of circuit court office to obtain a marriage license. Marriage licenses are good for 60 days. The fee is under $100 and can be paid with cash, check or charge. The Santa Rosa County Clerk (South end) office is located at 5841 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563. The hours are from 8 am to 4:30 pm M-F.
There is a 3-day waiting period to get the actual license if either is a Florida resident. Non-Florida residents with out of state driver’s license used as proof of identity do not have the 3-day waiting period. Once obtained a wedding ceremony can be performed anywhere in the state.
U.S. citizens must provide their social security number and photo ids, such as driver’s license or state identification card. Both the bride and groom are required to be 18 years of age (few exceptions). No blood tests or medical exams required. (Note, if you have been previously married you MUST provide the date of divorce, annulment, or spouse’s death—it’s a good idea to confirm that the divorce has been completed before booking a venue!)
Once the legal requirements are met, the first step in planning a wedding is to
In other words, get all the parties together that are going to be paying for the wedding and determine the final amount you can spend. According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $34,000 including an engagement ring, wedding ceremony, and reception.
For any destination wedding, the initial cost will include travel to and from as well as lodging and food and supplies while you are in the area. I could not write a blog post without mentioning Grocery- Concierge to help you plan your menus (not wedding), shop for your groceries, and delivery of all the supplies you need for your pre-wedding get-together or honeymoon week. If it’s a vacation—then Start Your Vacation Sooner!
Think how great it will feel to arrive and open the refrigerator to find your favorite beverage as well as items for dinner (you don’t want to get back in the car) and everything you need for tomorrow’s leisurely brunch with your BFFs and family. Or consider booking a Sunset Beach Picnic, Beer and Wines Tasting or other special treats from our Offerings. Then you can head to the beach and let the waves relax you or go for a walk and sink into the white sugar sand.
Additionally, you may have the expenses of the Wedding Dress and Bridesmaid Dress. Suit purchase or Tux Rental. (Even if you decide to go very casual you will still likely pick custom Men’s Shirts and Pants/Shorts and Sundresses for the ladies.)
Select a Wedding Coordinator/Planner & come down for a Pre-Wedding Visit:
I recommend that you visit Navarre Beach before your wedding and check out all the details of your wedding. You may want to consider things like:
How is Grandma going to walk in the sand from the boardwalk to the chairs?
How will the bridal party get from the house across the street to the beach wedding location?
How long is the walk or is there a golf cart available?
Are there restrooms available with the pavilions?
Having an onsite coordinator that you can rehearse all these situations before the actual ceremony will provide the reassurance you deserve. It’s always good to remember that your Wedding Planner’s goal is to make your dream wedding a reality. Communicate with them—ask questions, get referrals, meet in person if possible. They do this all the time and have done hundreds of weddings. This is hopefully your one and only wedding or at least the last one you will be planning, and they want to make it special for you and your families.
There are many wonderful providers, and each has a unique offering, you need to pick what is most important to you and remember to enjoy the day.
The services you desire for your wedding may include a Photographer and Videographer; a DJ or music and speakers for both the ceremony and the reception; the Minister or Officiant; Hair & Makeup Stylist; Florist; Catering service: Bartender and Beverage Service, Bakery/Wedding Cake: Miscellaneous rentals- Photo Booth, Dance Floor, etc. Some providers can “do it all”, while others allow you to pick and choose while still coordinating the event.
Venues for the ceremony include the Beach (both Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound), local Churches and Hotels, Golf Course as well as Wedding Houses (Be sure to check all restrictions when renting large houses as some DO NOT allow celebrations/weddings). Some of these may also serve as the Reception area in addition to local Restaurants and Beach Pavilions.
Santa Rosa County does not charge a fee to get married on the beach (other neighboring counties charge both the service provider and the wedding party for the right to use the beach). The beaches are public and providers know the best locations to set up early for ceremonies.
Lodging options include rental units (1,2, and 3 bedrooms condos; 3+ bedroom houses), and hotels. And don’t forget that you will want to come early and stay a few more days to explore and enjoy the beauty and relaxation of Florida’s Most Relaxing Place.
Additional information can also be found on the GetRelaxing.com website under Weddings.
Planning for the Weather
April or May are very popular for weddings when the weather is just a little cooler or in early November after Hurricane season has passed. Hurricane season is officially June 1 to November 1 each year. And typically, hurricanes occur later in the season (after mid-August). September and October are BEAUTIFUL times to visit Navarre, but you have to be willing to accept the fact that your wedding date may get moved if a hurricane develops. (The county will evacuate the island and close the Navarre Beach causeway in advance of a hurricane.) Most venues and catering services have a cancelation policy that you should review and know your options before selecting your date.
Summer season is Memorial Day to Labor Day and most all rental units require a Saturday to Saturday reservation during peak season (many are adjusting this requirement due to the Covid crisis) but as all of the Wedding Planners have told me, any day of the week is a great day to get married on the beach. And surprisingly few have had to be rescheduled or relocated inside due to bad weather—the odds are very good your wedding will occur on the day you plan with some flexibility of the time (wait a few minutes and the storm might pass).
Is a wedding on Navarre Beach right for you? Many couples like to call it a “Weddingmoon” because they can have their beautiful beach ceremony and then relax on that same beach for days afterward.
A few demographics to describe the typical couple:
Typically the couple is between 25 and 30 years old, although many couples like to renew their vows and older couples that are looking for a place to bring lots of families together for a blended second marriage also find it very attractive and affordable.
Most weddings are under 75 guests and a majority of these are 40 to 50 guests in attendance. It is not unusual for weddings to be only the family with a few very close friends and less than 20 total in attendance.
Sunset is the preferred time for the ceremony (Check the local weather app for sunset time by day). And remember, you can’t stop or even slow down the sunset! If you want the very best pictures, follow the advice of your wedding photographer and don’t be late!
So, what are some price ranges you can expect? You can find several templates for Wedding Budgets on Excel to use to keep track of your estimated and actual expenses. Or you can use The Knot’s Wedding Budget Planner.
Based on the information I have from several providers most weddings and receptions of 50 guests will cost around $8000 for the high end, $5000 for mid, and as little as $2000 on the low end. These amounts do not include tax or gratuity, nor does it include the travel or lodging expenses. However, compared to $34,000 a beautiful beach wedding in Navarre is a great option!
* this is not a complete list and none of these providers paid to be on the list
Please visit my website for a list of property management companies to book lodging for both your pre-wedding visit and your Weddingmoon! Whether you are staying for a few days or an entire week, use the many tools and resources to help you plan your grocery and beverage orders.
According to the FY2019 Santa Rosa County Tourism Impact Report, 88% of visitors to Navarre Beach arrive via a personal vehicle, while only 7% rent a vehicle which aligns with 5% coming by plane (Pensacola and Destin Fort Walton Beach airports).
And 81% say their #1 activity is to ENJOY THE BEACH.
Interestingly, most visitors are coming from cities and states 6 to 12 hours away by car.
That is ONE. LONG. CAR RIDE!
But so worth it when you finally arrive
Places to Stop
A couple of stops you may want to plan along the way include Buc-ee’s in AL (20403 County Rd 68, Robertsdale) It is just off the I-10 exit to Gulf Shores & Orange Beach. If you are from Texas, you already know all about Buc-ee’s. If you’re not, you will definitely want to stop and check it out. The best bathrooms in any convenience store, truck stop, or rest stop you will find (hot water and actual mirrors)! Plus, there are always unique shopping options and of course the food! What you will not find is SEATING. The food is intended to be taken out of the store for consumption (so be sure to have them bag your items so you can properly dispose of the wrappers and containers).
Also, plan to make a stop at the Florida Welcome Centers. Most of these are just miles from the state line and what I love about them is the amount of FREE information and beautiful publications they stock.
The Welcome Center in Escambia County (just about 4 miles from AL border) has a section on Northwest Florida as well as other tourist areas, but if you are coming to Navarre you will want to visit the NWFL section. You can get seashell guides, bird and fish guides, golf information, and more. I know you are getting really close to arriving and you may want to just keep on driving, but I promise the amount of information they stock is amazing. Hours are 8 am to 5 pm and only closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
What to Pack
Since you are in your car anyway, it’s great for BYOing items you will want and need at the beach. When you start making a list of all the items that you could possibly put in the car, it looks something like this:
Cooler(s)-large with wheels, small
Wheeled Cart to haul stuff back and forth to the beach (extra wide wheels needed for sand)
Umbrella or Shade Canopy
Beach towels and Blankets
Snorkel and Surf items (Goggles, Fins, Tank, Wetsuit, Tube)
Beach Toys—balls, frisbees, sandcastle tools, and containers
Floats, Boogie Boards and Noodles
Kayak or Paddleboards
And if you have babies or toddlers, now the list expands to include highchairs, cribs, and strollers.
For a vacation that involves very little clothes, there seems to be a lot to pack in the car!
I have done some research to help you determine what you can RENT here in Navarre so that you don’t have to pack so much and so that when you are done, you leave the items and the extra sand here! (You are going to take some sand home with you—I can guarantee it!)
First, let’s start with a good checklist. TravelingMom has one I like to print and use to pack the family and all your gear to enjoy a great week relaxing on the beach.
(Some items under Toiletries may not be necessary for your family but I’m glad they are included as reminders.)
Chairs and Umbrellas: There are several chair companies that operate in front of the condos on Navarre Beach (West Side of Pier), and you do not have to be staying in a condo to rent chairs. The companies offer both daily and weekly rentals. Most companies have the Chairs and Umbrellas set up by 7 am and will start taking down around 4 with final pick up by 6 pm. The benefit is that you do not have to haul chairs and umbrellas up and down from condos or back and forth from cars (plus the sand stays on the beach). The cost is $15-$25 per day with a discount if you pay for the week. Tips are always appreciated by the staff.
Bikes: You will find several vendors along Gulf Blvd offering bikes to rent. Most visitors ride along the bike path on Gulf Blvd and through the Navarre Beach Marine Park. Unless you are a seasoned bike rider I do NOT suggest riding up and across the Navarre Beach Causeway. It is 1.5 miles from Navarre Parkway (Hwy 98) to Gulf Blvd (US 399) and the incline is steep.
Kayaks, Paddleboards: There is a great story about a local business started by an 11 year –check out her story on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sagepaddlecompany/ and website www.SagePaddleCo.com They deliver to whatever beach location you are using. And they offer bikes, scooters, and my personal fav, the Scoot Coup.
Wave Runners and Boats: Juana’s and Navarre Family Watersports offer just about anything you want to play within the water! Check out CraigCats (requires 2 riders but looks super fun!) at NFW!
The minimum age to rent is 18 years old and anyone under 29 years is required by FL law to have a Boaters License. Study before coming to get your license https://www.boatus.org/florida/
Scuba Equipment: Air tanks seem to be the most difficult equipment to locate! Unfortunately, you will have to drive to Pensacola or Fort Walton Beach to get air tanks if you don’t have your own.
Baby Gear: Have you heard about BabyQuip? I have talked with several of the Quality Providers and feel very confident referring you to use this service. Please use this link to learn more.
Additionally, the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center has a box outside that visitors can donate items or “borrow” items to use during their visits. Admission to the Conservation Center is $5 per person (children under 2-free, military and seniors discount) and hours are Tues-Sun noon to 4 pm.
***Please note, if you are staying in a condo, you will need to store items in the designated areas (not on balconies, or walkways due to fire and safety codes).
Enjoy dolphin watching from the balcony of your condo or right on the beach and both the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular. Take a walk on the Navarre Beach Pier ($1 to walk-under 5 yrs old FREE) and watch fishermen reeling in their catch or spot a sea turtle swimming around.
Artificial reefs are available for snorkeling and shore diving in both the Santa Rosa Sound and the Gulf and easily accessible. More information can be found on the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary site.
Navarre Park has a playground and small Splash Pad for kids along with benches, picnic tables, and covered pavilions. The park is open from 7 am to 10 pm, and the Splash Pad is open Tues-Sun from 9 am to 5 pm.
Stop by the Visitor’s Center in Navarre Park (right on Hwy 98) early in your trip to get more information as well as FREE souvenirs. During Sea Turtle Nesting season get flashlight covers for your phones to go on the beach at night. And visit their website GetRelaxing.com for a visitor’s guide you can download.
Hopefully, with this information, you can remove a few items from the car! But we can’t stop without looking at a list of things to bring that include food, beverages, and supplies.
Food, Beverages, and Supplies
If you printed off the Beach Vacation Checklist you will notice a section: Things to Bring/Buy There and my advice is if you come to the beach every year create a Non-Perishable Tote like the one pictured below.
These items will not “melt” in the car during the drive. They don’t expire or weigh a lot and depending on the length of your stay and the number in your family, you may be able to purchase smaller quantities and use most of them up before returning home.
Included in this basket: Toilet paper, Paper Towel, Facial tissues, Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener Sheets, Dishwashing Detergent and Pods, quart-size Food Storage Bags, Kitchen Trash Bags, and Foil & Plastic Wrap all placed in a laundry basket. Additional items could include paper plates, cups, and plastic knives, forks & spoons. I have a complete list on my website under Free Resources: Basic Set Up.
Everything was purchased at Dollar Tree and the total was less than $15.00
Remember the Navarre Beach Causeway? Unfortunately, this short stretch of road can become very congested on the weekends during peak season. We have visitors coming and going as well as all the local community that loves to come out to the beach on the weekends. And since most rental units have a Saturday to Saturday policy there is a lot of traffic on a 2-lane road.
What can you do to avoid this?
Use Grocery Concierge to deliver your Groceries before you arrive and Start Your Vacation Sooner!
If you are someone who regularly orders groceries from Walmart, Instacart or Shipt you may be wondering “Why should I use Grocery Concierge instead of one of these services while on vacation?”
The number one reason is that travel is unpredictable! Various delays or unexpected lane closures on the Interstate can cause families to arrive at their unit later than expected. As a licensed, and insured Concierge Service I gain access to the unit from the Property Management Company. If you experience a delay while traveling, you can rest easy knowing you will not miss your scheduled delivery.
Additionally, as a personal shopper, I can shop at specialty stores that are not included in these services. Many visitors want fresh seafood as soon as they arrive at the beach. I have a great relationship with Navarre Seafood Market and can get items like steamed crab legs or steamed shrimp as well as fresh fish and deliver these items along with the rest of your groceries. Also, Where Ya At Seafood Market provides items like gumbo or etouffee that can easily be reheated for your first-night dinner so you can grab a drink from the fridge and head out to enjoy the beach. It is my pleasure to introduce these local businesses to our visitors and provide the highest quality and variety of products.
Another difference between Grocery Concierge and these services is the fee structure. These services are subscription-based and have minimum purchase amounts. Subscriptions range in price and require a minimum purchase of $30 to $35 (alcohol is not included in the total to reach the minimum amount required). I do not have a minimum purchase amount instead each delivery has a delivery fee of $50 and a service fee. You pay only when you use it. (Also changing your delivery location is not easy!)
And lastly is my food donation program. If you have any unopened nonperishable items I will return to the unit and pick those items up and donate them to the food pantry. Instead of trying to pack items in your suitcases or throw items away, you can make a positive contribution to those in our community that can use the items.
Navarre Beach is a great place to visit! I liked it so much I moved here! And I hope that you will visit often and use the service companies I mentioned in the article. We love our visitors and we count on you to support our businesses during your visits. Pack the car with your beach towels, favorite pillow, cameras, board and video games to play at night or if a rainstorm comes up, and remember we have lots of stuff here for you to use and we hope that you will😊.
Last tip—the reason that DOGS are NOT ALLOWED on our beaches is due to both the shorebirds that visit here each year and the sea turtles that nest here. Both of these seasons run from April/May to Sept/Oct. But the ordinance is in effect all year long!
You can walk your dog along the walking and bike path on Gulf Blvd and there is a small dog beach on the west side of the National Seashore Park (Pensacola Beach). So, if your rental unit allows for dogs, feel free to bring them but PLEASE obey the county ordinance (or you could be fined $250).
Time at Navarre Beach is intended to be RELAXING and REFRESHING and most of the time it is exactly that!
But we’ve all been on the trip where someone ends up running a fever and staying in bed for 3 days. Or your teenage son drops a contact down the drain. Or after 10 hours in the car your husband’s back is so tight he is not able to walk the beach as you planned and you know a good chiropractic adjustment is all that is needed. And what if you’re all enjoying movie and popcorn, and you break a tooth on one of the kernels?
What do you do and where do you go for treatment?
The unfortunate truth is Life gets Messy (even on Vacation)! My intent with this post is to inform you of local services and providers and to give you some tips to use with packing and preparing for your next trip to Navarre Beach, Florida!
Small First Aid Kit: You can purchase a small kit and just toss it in your bag or you can fill a gallon Ziplock with items you probably already have in your medicine cabinet. Items you will want to include:
Antiseptic (Rubbing Alcohol) wipes or small bottle
Pain Killers (And I’m not talking about the cocktail that has lots of rum!) –Tylenol, Advil, Aleve
Hydrocortisone Crème/Ointment—useful to treat skin irritations, bug bites
Triple Antibiotic Ointment—great for scrapes & cuts, and blisters
Band-aids-in various sizes (Bring multiples. You will be going in and out of pool and ocean so they will need to be replaced often)
Benadryl or other antihistamines—helpful if bitten or stung but also a great sleep aid
Tweezers and small pair of scissors (be sure to put in checked baggage if flying)
Sunscreen and Sunburn Treatment (aloe/lidocaine gels)
Prescriptions/Daily Medicines/Supplements: In addition to bringing what you will use during the trip plus 2 days, I encourage you to create a small card (3×5) that lists your medicines, dosage, supplements, and name and contact information for your doctor(s). The extra 2 days of medicines are “just in case” you have travel delays. The card is so that if you do have to seek medical treatment, the doctors, nurses, and health care providers will know exactly what meds you are taking before they prescribe drugs that may cause negative interactions.
Contact Lenses or Back-Up pair of Glasses: Several years ago, I had Lasik surgery, so I do not have to carry contact lenses anymore. However, before having the surgery I remember packing an extra pair of lenses anytime I traveled. Due to the sun, sand, and saltwater, your contacts may start to irritate your eyes and that backup pair will come to the rescue. Be sure to bring plenty of storing solution and drops for your eyes. I like to put drops in my eyes before and after a day on the beach just to help soothe them.
You may also want to bring a pair of “back up glasses”. When I still needed corrective lenses, I had a pair of glasses darkened to use as sunglasses so that I could go without my contacts on the beach. Unfortunately, when I went snorkeling, I had to decide to either wear contacts and risk one coming out or wear glasses but not be able to see underwater! Bring a backup pair just in case a very big wave comes over you and your eyeglasses are now in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. Sunglasses are easy and inexpensive to replace—prescription glasses are not!
Upon Arrival—Ways to Relax:
Of course, you will have scheduled for delivery of your groceries, paper goods and beverages by Grocery Concierge so that you can just arrive and start relaxing!!!
Sometimes we arrive at the beach and we are still so “wired” from either the long car trip or the built-up stress that we’ve experienced over the past few months. To help you relax and fully appreciate your time on this beautiful beach, I encourage you to try a Beach Breath Walk. Walk at a slower than normal pace and breathe in for one step; breathe out for the next step, counting 3 or 4 for each breath/step. Continue as you walk, being mindful of your breath and your surroundings. Let the rhythm of the waves guide you along. Hear the sound of the waves. Feel the sand under your feet. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face and arms. See all the colors of the sea, sky, and sun. Walk as long and as far as you need. If you are interested in more information about Breathing Exercises, check out this article in Natural Awakenings NWF.com
One of my favorite things to do on vacation is to get a massage. I usually schedule them for a day when either the weather doesn’t look great or at least when I know we don’t have to be anywhere soon. After a good massage I often go back to the condo and take a nap—I try to drink plenty of water to wash out the lactic acid the therapist has created from the massage but I just want to rest and enjoy the feeling of lightness and fluidity. If you have never gotten a massage, I encourage you to try one on your next vacation. And for more information about what to expect after a massage, check out this article from Soothe:
Being a longtime patient of chiropractic services in Texas, I knew I would need to find a new one when I moved to Navarre. I LOVE Positive Chiropractic Solutions and Dr. Amanda Williams. Additionally, I have discovered that Navarre is home to Dr. Tim Price with Mobile Chiropractor, and I asked him to send information about his practice and tips for travel. If you are in Navarre and need an adjustment, please give him a call and schedule a time to take care of your back.
3 Concepts to Consider for Your Spine While Traveling
After being a Chiropractor for 22+ years, I am commonly asked by my patients what they could do on their own to care for their back. This article will provide some general concepts for back care and focus on caring for your neck and back while traveling and during your vacation.
Concept #1 – Motion is Life
This concept is a common one I always refer to. We have all felt that feeling getting up out of bed and feeling a little stiff. After we get up and move around, we start feeling better, looser. We can use this idea while traveling by moving more often. I recommend moving around about every hour when driving those multi-hour drives to your final destination. Take that rest stop…and move around. Take large steps that stretch your legs. Move your shoulders around. I commonly will do about 10 jumping jacks, take large steps towards the restroom, and move my shoulders in large circles (like a big windmill) at a rest area. You may get a few looks from bystanders, but it will pay off when you finally step out of that car and put your toes in that soft sand.
When at your final destination, you may be tempted to just relax in a soft chair. Instead of that, take a short walk. Check out your new surroundings. You’ll learn about your new area, and also do your body good.
Concept #2 – Stretch That Body
We’ve all seen that yoga instructor who can turn themselves inside out. We all wish we were that limber! This idea of stretching is a good one, and we all intuitively want more flexibility. But, that being said, we have to be careful with this one. I see some patients who never stretch while at home, then get to their warm destination and start to move their stiff bodies and before you know it, they’ve pulled a hamstring and there goes the golf and tennis games.
Ease into it. If you take that local yoga class, don’t try and keep up with your neighbor, stay within your range. You can make big changes within just a few weeks, but not in one session.
Start slow and only stretch after you have warmed up. One strategy is to walk/run for a short bit, then stop and do some stretching, then repeat. Again, ease into it. What stretches should I do? Good question. I recommend resources such as YouTube, or your local yoga studio to figure that out for yourself. I personally perform 3 basic stretches near-daily: Up-Dog, Down Dog, Cat-Cow. These are general spine stretching that keep me mobile.
Concept #3 – Get Some Sleep
We all know that when we get a good night’s sleep we feel and function better. Sleep is the time our bodies rejuvenate/re-charge. Getting good sleep while traveling can be a challenge. Most of the time we are driving to our vacation spot for many hours, or sometimes even days. During these vehicle times, I recommend picking up a travel neck pillow. It’s one of those that wraps around your neck. It may feel a little awkward at first, but can be a real neck saver. Without it, you’re destined to fall asleep with your head flopping around while traveling down the highway at 70+ MPH. Not a good plan for your neck.
Once at your vacation spot there is always the same issue for everyone. No matter where you are, your bed and pillows are going to be different from the bed you have at home. If you have the space and forethought, I would recommend you bring your personal pillows with you. This can be a vacation changer. I find that most places pick the biggest, fluffiest pillows for their beds…thinking that that is better and more impressive. Most of the time these pillows are way too big and end up pushing your chin to your chest for the 8 hours while in bed. Perfect neck pain causer! A good pillow for you will probably be different for you and your travel partners. We all have different spines. A good pillow is a neutral pillow. The one that supports, not stresses your neck.
As far as your bed, it’s a little harder to change that. Your options are limited. Hopefully, it won’t be too bad or too different than your own at home. If it’s hugely bothersome, I recommend going to your local superstore and purchasing a bed cover. You can get anything from an egg crate style to goose down. These can help in that they can decrease the pressure points to your spine that that vacation bed is throwing at you.
Purchased this towel (I had the plaid one) at Pak N Fax on Hwy 87—The gift shop is great! And you can ship items home!
In my blog post, Tips for a Stress-Free Trip to Navarre for the Holiday, Nov 12, 2019, I shared ideas about how you can enjoy your holidays in Navarre, FL. Since I wrote that article, I have discovered even more options and want to share all these as well as some information about local events you might enjoy from Dec 21st to Jan 4th (the official school holiday break).
Please note some of these items are very time-sensitive which is why I am sharing today so that you still have time to place orders for pick up or place an order with Grocery Concierge and have all your supplies delivered to your unit before you arrive!
Things you will need for a Christmas Vacation in Navarre:
#1: Lodging: I know there are still rental units available, but don’t wait too long.
#2: Food: Please note I will be traveling back to Texas and not available for deliveries between Dec 22nd and Jan 9th. If I have your order by Wednesday, Dec 18th, I can make a delivery to your rental unit on the morning of Saturday, December 21st. You can arrive anytime that day and everything you need will already be there for you to enjoy. Give yourself the gift of convenience and enjoy your vacation sooner!
Check out the resource section on our Meal Planning page for drink ideas, suggestions on quick fix menus using Rotisserie Chicken or fresh local Shrimp.
Also, be sure to check out the menu from Where Ya At Seafood. These are “Ready to Serve” items that I can pick up and deliver as part of your total grocery delivery and you will have a fresh, local meal waiting for you when you arrive. They come in convenient packs that serve 2 or 4. Order as much or as little as you would like.
If you are interested in having a personal chef cook for you and your family during the holidays, please contact one of the following to design your custom menu.
And don’t forget to order your beer, wine, and spirits through us as well. Craft Beer lovers, if you want to try some beer from Ye Olde Brothers you can either visit the brewery on Hwy 87 or I can pick up a growler for you and deliver. Ye Olde Brothers is the first craft brewery in Navarre. They do not bottle or can their beer for offsite purchases, so you must purchase directly. They also offer smoked Turkeys, Hams and Pumpkin Pie—must order by Dec 17th and you will have to pick it up on Dec 24th.
#3: Activities: Friday Night Cornhole Tournaments at Ye Olde Brothers Brewery! Information available on their Facebook Page –registration starts at 5:30, and bags fly at 6:30. Firepits and Heaters on the patio to keep the family warm.
Christmas Zoobilee—Dec 21 & 22 from 9 am to 4 pm at the Gulf Breeze Zoo. For a full event schedule and details: GBZOO.com
Navarre Park a great park to visit during the day (Basketball courts, Swings, Picnic areas) and memorial. The photo below is from this year’s Veterans Day ceremony. And at night the park lights up with “jellies” hanging from the trees.
Christmas Eve Services: Pick up a copy of the local Navarre Press newspaper for information on service times. You can often find this paper in the lobby area or office of the property management companies or it is for sale at Walmart and other grocery stores.
Free Souvenirs: Stop by the Santa Rosa Tourist Development office at 8543 Navarre Parkway (the blue building at Navarre Park) for lots and lots of free stuff. And since I know you will want to come back this summer when you can get in the water, be sure to get information about turtle nesting and get some flashlight covers so you can walk on the beach at night and not harm the turtles!
Gifts from Navarre:
Relaxation, Memories, and Seashells
There are lots of great gift shops in Navarre! But I am going to assume that you have come here and either the trip is the gift, or you have finished all your shopping and now you want to relax.
Sunsets: I suggest you plan to catch the sunset. Be on the beach by 4:30 and know that even if the official sunset time is right at 5 pm the sky is magnificent for a long time after. Depending on the temperature and the wind, you will need to bring some blankets or jackets. Firepits are NOT ALLOWED anywhere on Navarre Beach. (The only firepits are on the patio at The Beach House Restaurant at the Marriott Springhill Suites.)
Sunrises: If you are an early riser, the sunrises are fantastic too. Your condo balcony may be the perfect location with a warm cup of coffee.
Quiet Walks on the Beach: Be sure to come down to walk the beach and pick up shells. The shoreline changes each day with the tides, and it is always fun to see how the beach has changed overnight.
Navarre Beach Pier: The pier is scheduled for a complete overhaul after the first of the year. We are all very excited to see the new improved pier in 2020 (another reason to come back). So don’t judge the appearance of the pier right now—it is ugly. The main reason to go out on the pier anyway is to see what the fishermen are catching; if a Sea Turtles comes up for air; Dolphins playing nearby; and depending on the surf, any Surfers catching a wave! The pier is open daily until 7 pm and only costs $1 per person per day to walk (more if you want to fish).
Merry Christmas 2019 and Happy New Year, New Decade 2020!
PS: I almost forgot, January 1st there is a Penguin Plunge ‘N Paddle at Juana’s Pagodas from noon to 4 pm. Call for more info 850-939-1092. You can be “Freezing for a Reason”!
Looking for a great place to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas this year? Come on down to Navarre, Florida on the beautiful Emerald Coast.
Trade in the white snow and gray skies for white sand, and aquamarine waters!
Even if you don’t go swimming in the Gulf during your visit you can walk on the beach and search for shells. Sunrise is around 6 am and is beautiful and the sun will set around 5 pm. Bring blankets and some hot coffee down to the beach and watch as God paints the skies (the picture above is a sunrise from the Navarre Pier) or take a sunset stroll with your sweetheart before dinner and be thankful for the time with each other.
There are lots of properties still available and the prices are very affordable. Here are some local property management companies that I work with:
These and other companies offer the option of use Grocery Concierge to deliver your groceries BEFORE you arrive so that you don’t have to spend time shopping. Doesn’t that sound great?! No need to shop for supplies, especially during some of the busiest times of the year at the grocery stores.
Holiday Meals & Menus
While you are here, I recommend checking out some of our local options and incorporating them into your menu. Add fresh seafood to your appetizers from Navarre Seafood Market, or pick up some custard at Culver’s (they offer a new flavor every day, and pre-packed quarts). Where Ya At Seafood offers ready-made jambalaya and red beans and rice that would be great side items. And you can order smoked Hams and Turkeys for Thanksgiving from East River BBQ—call ahead to place order 850-939-2802 and pick up on Wednesday Nov 27th from 11 am to 4 pm. This will also save you the necessary defrost time (days) for a frozen turkey and the space in the refrigerator.
As wonderful as the rental properties are, they may not have all the kitchen equipment you typically use to prepare a large holiday meal. Let’s simplify the menu so that you still get all your favorites, but you can prepare it in a smaller space with fewer pots and pans. Also, instead of having multiple types of meat and multiple sides at one BIG MEAL, create multiple smaller meals.
Here’s what I suggest for a holiday meal:
1 Meat Item: Turkey, Ham, or Roast (Prime Rib, Beef Tenderloin or Pork Roast)
Gravy or Condiment for the meat (horseradish, au jus)
1 to 2 Starch items: Cornbread Dressing, Potatoes (Sweet or White), Rice, Corn, Squash
1 Green Veggies: Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts,
1 Salad: Fruit or Vegetable
1-2 Desserts (It’s the holidays!)
The rental units are typically not going to have large roasting pans for Turkeys or Roasts so you will need to buy disposable pans. Disposable pans come in lots of different sizes (approximate sizes below):
Cake Pan: 9 x 13 inches
Loaf Pan: 8 x 4 inches and Mini Loaf Pan: 5 ½ x 3 x 2 inches
Round Cake Pan: 8 inches
Square Cake Pan: 8 x 8 inches
Casserole Pan: 11 ¾ inch x 9 ¼ inch x 1 ½ inch
All Purpose/Lasagna Pan: 13 ¼ x 9 ½ x 2 ¾ inches
Oval Roaster: 13 x 16 x 3
Roaster: 12 inches x 9 inches
Deep Roaster: 16 inches x 11 ¾ inches x 3 inches (20 lbs.)
Super Roaster: 16 inches x 12 ½ inches x 3 ¼ inches (25 lbs.)
These will also make clean up a breeze so you can enjoy the sea breeze more!
Baked Goods: Breads and Sweets
If you plan to bake you should plan that the units won’t have cake pans, muffin pans or pie plates. Disposable cake pans with lids are a great option since you can bake and store all in the same container. Pick recipes that bake in a single 9 x 13-inch pan like Chocolate Sheet Cake, Gingerbread, and Honeybun Cake.
As for pies, I suggest buying frozen pies and then adding fresh whipped topping or ice cream. My suggestion on frozen pies is to buy Marie Callender’s Pumpkin and Pecan. These taste the most like homemade and for many families, these are the “homemade pies” they know. I have not been able to find a frozen traditional 2 crust Apple pie that I like. Marie Callender’s offers a streusel-topped apple pie that’s a good option, or you could buy a bakery pie (Publix and Walmart both offer these).
Other sweets and treats like fudge, rum or bourbon balls, Christmas cookies should be baked at home and brought with you. TSA allows cookies, candies on planes. Here’s an article: https://www.tripsavvy.com/tsa-rules-for-food-468226 Be sure that the items can be “inspected” without having to be completely unwrapped. Place cookies in Ziplocs, or small plastic containers like Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. If the items are to be a gift, pack your gift wrap and tape so you can wrap them after you arrive in Florida.
Biscuits, Breads, and Cornbread. Seems like every family has their favorites—Hawaiian rolls. Brown and Serve. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Canned Biscuits or Frozen Biscuits. Buy what you like and be sure to get extra butter! Also, Publix offers a Bread of the Month. If you want to try something new!!!
And of course, Cornbread for Southern Dressing. I suggest using a mix (Martha White Yellow is a good mix for dressing because it is NOT sweet) to keep it simple and again, you may want to buy some disposable pans to first bake the cornbread and then use for mixing up the dressing and an even larger one for baking the dressing. But remember to not get it so thick that it takes FOREVER to bake and get done in the middle.
Seasoning and Spices
Having a lot of different spices can be a challenge when traveling. At home, you have a spice rack full of different spices and spice blends, but here you are going to want to try and keep it simple with only buying a salt & pepper shaker set.
If your recipes call for things like poultry seasoning, dried sage, ground mustard, etc I suggest bringing those from home so that you don’t have to buy an entire container and only use a couple of teaspoons. You can pre-measure the spices for your recipes and label each in a small Ziplock so you know which is which and place them all in one larger Ziplock and toss in your suitcase or carry on.
Fresh Veggies and Fruit are now available in many pre-cut containers and combinations. Publix Grocery has several different fresh-cut items in steamable bags that will not only reduce the number of pots and pans you need to use and then to clean but these may be just the right amount for one meal depending on the size of your family/group. Small bags of “baby potatoes” are great for roasting with olive oil or for boiling and mashing.
For an easy fruit salad, the kids will love, start with a container of fresh fruit like melons and grapes and add an apple or a can of peaches (no syrup), or pineapple chunks. Quick and easy to prepare!
Some quantities to know before buying wine and liquors:
Wine Bottle (750 ml) = 5 servings (about 5 oz each) or 3 servings (about 8 oz each)
Liquor Bottle (750 ml) = 15 servings (1.5 oz) or if using larger bottles (1.75L) = 39 servings (1.5 oz)
In Navarre, you can purchase beer and wine in all the grocery stores and convenience stores. We also have a small wine shop Vine Wine which is both a retail store and a great place to enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. The Grey Taproom is another local establishment that offers craft beer, wine, and a full-service bar.
Liquor is sold in “separate stores”—they have different entrances and hours are typically 9 am to 9 pm every day of the week.
Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry and tired? Add in kids or a hungry husband and you are guaranteed to spend $300 or more on that trip!
Have you ever planned on starting a new “diet” and realized you don’t have any of the items listed for the week? And pay day is a week away!
Have you ever started cooking a recipe and realized that you are missing an item? Before calling for Pizza Delivery, check Google. You may be able to find a substitute (Skim Milk + Butter = Heavy Cream)
If restaurants ran their kitchen’s like many of us do, they would not be able to stay in business! Their customers would not be able to order their favorite items from the menu because the chef didn’t have all the ingredients to make that item. Or the food cost would be so high with last-minute deliveries, they couldn’t pay the rent or the employees. So how does a restaurant have what they need to make the items and satisfy both their customers and their budgets?
One tool they use is a PAR sheet. PAR stands for Periodic Automatic Replenishment. In other words, a system to get the items they need when they need them. The major advantage of a system like this is that you can adjust your PAR levels depending on factors like storage, budget, menu changes, and purchase frequency while still having all the ingredients you need on hand to make all of your family’s favorite meals and snacks.
Another tool they use is inventory rotation—using up the oldest items first. FIFO means First In, First Out. There is lots of confusion about “use by” dates and “best by” on food packaging. Use By Dates are related to safety—think meats and prepared salads. Best By (Before) Dates are about quality—food may still be safe to eat just not the best quality. You need to get in the habit of using up the older items first so that you are getting the best quality and keeping your family safe.
Having worked for both a food management company and a restaurant, these tools and practices come almost naturally for me. As I explained in a previous blog post (Menu Planning: System or Style-Feb 5, 2019) I cook almost every meal at home. I rotate our inventory so that meat purchased and frozen in May, is used before meat purchased and frozen in July. And although we have some “family favorites” that I can prepare at any time (just pull some items out of freezer and pantry), I try new preparations and new items depending on the season and availability (fresh fruits and veggies and fresh seafood). What’s the saying…Variety is the Spice of Live!
One of my favorite activities is Meal Planning! I know it sounds crazy, but I love to plan Dinner Parties—just thinking about which foods go well together and of course what wine to serve makes me happy. I will sit on the couch with cookbooks all around me looking for the perfect combinations and imagining how the flavors will complement one another. If this isn’t your favorite activity, please see previous blog post (Holiday Planning-Nov 2018) for some tips or give me a call and we can plan your event together.
Of course, not every meal is a “dinner party”! Lunches are often leftovers either reheated or using the cooked protein on a salad. And breakfast can range from fruit smoothies on the way out the door or a breakfast casserole. Most importantly, I try to make every meal nutritious.
I believe the saying “Feed your body, Feed your passion” and I am passionate about helping others make positive changes in their lives through nutritional coaching!
So how does a Nutritional Coaching Session work?
Let’s walk through the steps together and if it sounds like something you would like to do then you can contact me, and we can plan a time to work together. The cost of a session is $99 and includes the Customizable Google Sheet ($19.95) and 2 hours of Onsite Kitchen Organization and Coaching. Details can be found on our Meal Planning page.
First, I will have you complete a Meal Planning Questionnaire (online and PDF version available) and send to me. This questionnaire will give me some general information about your current situation and your goals. Then when I arrive on-site, we will do a complete Inventory of your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator. If we find out of date items we will discard those, and if we find items that you want to eliminate from your diet (wheat, sugar, dairy, etc.) we will determine whether to discard or to place in an “out of sight/out of mind” area to be recovered at a later date.
Next, we will look at your upcoming Monthly Calendar. Are there any Special Events or Get Togethers that we need to plan for? Any dinners out on the calendar—girls’ night out/sports celebrations/concerts? We will pull recipes together for these events and plan to incorporate the ingredients into your final shopping list.
And now we move to your daily and weekly meals—breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Do you use a delivery meal plan like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Home Chef? What are some of your family favorites? What diet plan are you following? We are focusing on your goals, whether it is to save money or replace packaged foods with more wholesome items or something else.
And lastly based on what you are planning to prepare and consume we will create a Customized Google Sheet (link to download) that includes your PAR for every item. The Sheet will automatically determine your shopping list by comparing Quantity Needed to Quantity on Hand. And as you update the quantities on hand, the sheet will update so that you are only buying what you need.
Any time remaining can be spent organizing your kitchen for easy preparation, clean up, and storage.
Shopping and Delivery Service:
Organized Occasions Concierge is a full-service concierge that will shop for and delivery your groceries, paper products, and beverages. Email me your shopping list and we will schedule your delivery (mutually agreeable day and time). More details about Grocery Delivery Service (link) can be found under the services page.
I know there are a lot of meal plans out there—I have downloaded and subscribed to several myself as well as reviewed almost every major diet program. The difference between all those meal/diet plans and what I am describing is treating your kitchen like a restaurant. Establishing a PAR to purchase only items needed, rotating inventory to maintain quality and creating variety in your menus.
Whatever your goals for Meal Planning are, you can reach them! If you want to save money, you can. You will only be buying what you need. If you want to change what you are eating, you can. You will have a shopping list to use and the best way to control what comes into your house (and body) is to control what goes into your cart! If you want to eat at home more, you can. You will have all the ingredients you need to make the meal without stopping by the store (saving both time and money).
You may find that Home is Her Favorite Restaurant too! (A song lyric—Walker Hayes-Don’t Let Her) Check out the video—but be prepared to shed a tear or two.