Monday, July 18, 2016

Time For The Second Half of the VB Bucket List

25 more things to add to your Virginia Beach bucket list this summer

We promised 25 more bucket-list items to check out this summer in Virginia Beach, so here they are. We encourage you to try as many as possible before fall gets here. In case you missed it, here's the first list of must-try experiences.

1. Summon your artistic side at The Mermaid Factory. Surely you’ve noticed the colorful mermaids all over Norfolk or the dolphins throughout Virginia Beach. Now you can make your own. There are locations at the Oceanfront and Ghent. Call 757-963-7700 for the Oceanfront one. You know, if you're a creative person, you can make your own mermaid and you only need to go to your favorite arts and crafts store to get your supplies. I did my own mosaic mermaid several years ago, and my husband even made a Steelers mermaid.
2. Go see cute animals at Hunt Club Farm. They’ve got a petting farm, a new bird aviary and seasonal festivals. Call 757-427-9520.
3. Check out the dinosaurs in Jerrassic Park (not a typo) at the Military Aviation Museum. It’s at 1341 Princess Anne Road.
4. Watch jets take off - up close. We know a spot. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a gravel pull-off off Oceana Boulevard. I've actually been to this spot and NEVER saw anything overhead. :( However, I know of a spot in Norfolk where I have seen all kinds of aircraft overhead, including the Blue Angels. I've even had helicopter pilots turn their spotlights on me, at twilight when I wave to them. :) I've got my own airshow!
5. Scope out the Cape Henry Lighthouse. It’s on the Fort Story military base, near the North End, but it’s open to the public. It’s the oldest federally funded one in the country. This is a must see if you've got friends or family visiting.
6. Sneak off to False Cape State Park. It’s one of the few remaining undeveloped areas along the Atlantic Coast. It offers activities like kayaking, hiking, and bike trails, plus six miles of beach. You can’t get to it by car though – you have to go by foot, bicycle, beach transport, tram or boat. To make reservations on the beach transporter, call 800-933-7275.
7. Visit an international news network. The Christian Broadcasting Network is right here in town and offers free tours Monday through Friday. You can even see a taping of “The 700 Club.” Call 757-226-2745. Uuuhhhh, how about no, just right off the bat. This isn't for me.
8. Take surfing lessons. You can have a one-on-one lesson or do it in a group. Either way, you’ll learn a new skill. VB Surf Sessions offers workshops and camps, along with other water skills. Call 757-633-5330.
9. Go fishing at the 400-foot Sandbridge Pier at Little Island Park. You can rent a pole, and a license isn’t required.
10. Get a shot at the spotlight. The Sandler Center offers free tours at 2 p.m. every Tuesday, which includes behind-the-scenes views and even a view from the stage.
11. If you’re into cigars, check out the private second-floor club, above Twist, in Town Center.
12. Go skydiving – indoors. iFly at the Oceanfront lets you feel the sensation of jumping out of a plane, without actually going up in one. You simply float on a column of air. It’s at 2412 Pacific Ave.
13. Pick peaches and visit Martin’s Vineyard on Knotts Island, just a short drive from Pungo. The winery is on an island, so you are guaranteed great views of the water. It’s at 213 Martin Farm Lane, Knotts Island, N.C. I just went to the Peach Festival for the first time this year, and it's held just down the road from Martin's Vineyard.
14. There’s more to Pungo than the yearly Strawberry Festival. Head over to The Tar Roof, which hosts painting nights, pop-up dinners and displays art and photography. It's at 1791 Princess Anne Road; call 757-655-5005
15. Watch movies on the big screen at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. They’re shown every Saturday, and it’s cheaper if you’re a member. Call 757-385-3474.
16. Take a cooking class at New Earth Farm. Chefs will teach you how to use seasonal produce grown right at the farm. Call 757-536-6102.
17. Did you know there’s a restaurant at The Art Institute of Virginia Beach? It’s called CrAive and it’s open for lunch when classes are in session: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. For reservations, call 757-493-6839.
18. If you’ve never been inside The Royal Chocolate in Town Center, be sure to pop in between 2 and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. All of the shop’s hot and frozen drinks (frozen hot chocolate, for example) are buy one get one free. It’s at 164 Central Park Ave.
19. Every Thursday night (through Sept. 8) at Neptune’s Park (at 31st Street and Atlantic Avenue) the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Symphonicity will play free shows. Symphony by the Sea is from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
20. Watch a movie at Mount Trashmore: On July 22, catch “Minions,” on Aug. 12, catch “Home” and on Aug. 26, catch “The Peanuts Movie.” Activities begin at 7 p.m. and the movies start at sunset. The park is at 310 Edwin Drive.
21. Belt out a tune at Wanna B’s Karaoke Club and Restaurant. During the week, you have to be 21 to get in, but on Sundays, it’s for those 18 and older. It’s at 2880 Virginia Beach Blvd.
22. Create your own wine flight at Sonoma Wine Bar in Town Center. The wine bar offers more than 70 by-the-glass choices. It’s at 189 Central Park Ave.
23. Let your dog run free! The city has three dog parks where registered pups can run around off-leash. Red Wing Park is at 1398 General Booth Blvd., Bayville Farms Park is at 4132 First Court Road, and Woodstock Park is at 5709 Providence Road. Let's not forget about the dog parks in Chesapeake (off Greenbrier Road at the city park) or in Norfolk near Granby and Tidewater, next door to the fire station. :)
24. Get the best flounder sandwich in Hampton Roads (according to our taste-testers) at Chick’s Oyster Bar. It’s at 2143 Vista Circle.
25. Catch blue crabs at the Virginia Beach Fishing Pier. It’s apparently a banner year for catching the critters, and you can take them home with you. It’s $10 for adults and $5 for kids younger than $12, but less if you just want to watch. It could be the last season. The wooden pier is at 15th Street at the Oceanfront.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Salt and Pepper Shrimp/31 Recipes Down

Tonight, I decided to keep things light for supper and just made us some shrimp. This recipe was one from Just a Bunch of Recipes.

Seriously, this is going to be the easiest shrimp recipe you ever make in your entire life. For me, the shelling, deveining and butterflying of the shrimp took loads longer than the actual cooking. This was an awesome dish and I'll be making it again.

What did I learn from this recipe?
I learned about the joys of a squeeze bottle of ground ginger. Sure, you can buy it in chunks, peel it and cut it yourself, but why bother? The bottle of ginger I bought was awesome and I'll never buy fresh ginger again.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

25 must-try experiences in Virginia Beach for your summer bucket list

I am really enjoying the geographical bucket lists that Pilot Online reporters are doing this summer! Here is the first part of Robin Sidersky's Virginia Beach list.

What have I already accomplished here, in my time in Hampton Roads?

25 must-try experiences in Virginia Beach for your summer bucket list 

Summer is one of the best times of the year to live in Virginia Beach. There are so many things going on that you won’t have time to be bored. Here are 25 ideas to get you started. Next week, we'll have 25 more ideas. (But feel free to send us yours via the comment section below!)

1. Check out the circus at the Oceanfront. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday there are three free shows at 17th Street. The shows are at 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
2. Walk the trails at First Landing State Park. There are nine of them, and they cover at least 19 miles, collectively. I haven't walked all the trails out there, but I have some walking out there. It's very pretty out there.
3. Swing through the trees at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. Try out the park’s newest Black Diamond course, Black Hawk.
4. Pick up locally-grown produce at the Shore Drive Farm Market. It’s every Saturday from 9 a.m until noon at 2947 Shore Drive.
5. Ynot Wednesdays are back in Town Center every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bands play live all four hours, there’s a little farmers market, plus food and drink vendors.
6. Watch a movie on the beach. The big screen will go up for a few Thursdays in August at 26th Street, and it’s free.
7. Grab breakfast at the original Citrus on Shore Drive. The restaurant has an old-school beach vibe that can’t be replicated.
8. Check out the growing craft beer scene. You have so many options now, just within the Beach: Young Veterans Brewing, Home Republic, Reaver Beach, Commonwealth, Back Bay, Pleasure House, Wasserhund and Gordon Biersch.
9. Why just get ice cream when you can get a scoop between two cookies or Rice Krispy Treats? Creamwiched, on Atlantic Avenue, has sweet treats off the beaten path.
10. Spend the day at Sandbridge’s beaches. They’re away from the tourist crowds and just as beautiful.
11. Take a boat trip from the aquarium. Dolphin sightseeing trips are offered multiple times per day in the summer. Keep an eye out for special trips. Done! :) I used to be a whale and dolphin watching trip volunteer with the Aquarium, way back in 2000-2001. I've seen humpback whales, and they are truly breathtaking! The dolphins were harder to see, and I never got around to seeing them until I was on a family trip out of Rudee Inlet in 2012. Such cute babies! They were swimming along side the fishing boat!
12. Check out the new fitness park at 36th Street. Swing across rows of rings or traverse the parallel bars.
13. Make the trip to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The more than 9,100 acres of land have more than 300 species of birds, plus reptiles, amphibians and other animals. Two boardwalk trails lead to the beach. You can also go fishing, cycling, hunting or even volunteer.
14. Sip on orange crushes at Waterman’s. If orange isn’t your jam, try some of the other flavors the popular restaurant offers, like grapefruit.
15. Want to get out on the water but don’t have a boat? Not a problem. Take a half-day trip on Rudee Tours, leaving from Rudee’s Inlet. We've actually got our own boats now...well, okay...technically, we have kayaks, but I've kayaked on the Chesapeake Bay now. And I did take a fishing trip out of Rudee Inlet, and got really pretty seasick that day. As my nephew pointed out, I made my own chum that day. :)
16. If you can climb out of bed early, take a free fitness class at Mount Trashmore. All you need is a good attitude.
17. Take a “shipwrecks and ghost lore” tour at the Old Coast Guard Station. The tours are given at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights.
18. Open your mind at the Edgar Cayce Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.). The center offers free workshops, lectures, and gives guided tours daily. When I was working with the hospice, I had a class of their Reiki students want to take hospice training, so I went out there to them every week. It's pretty interesting over there.
19. Wander around the Old Beach Art Market at 620 19th Street. It’s open from 8 a.m. to noon every Saturday, June through September and from 9 a.m. to noon every third Saturday October through May.
20. Landstown Commons Shopping Center will have a free children’s festival on July 16. You’ll find bounce houses, costumed characters, face painting, and other kids’ activities. It’s from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
21. Check out free music at two Hardee’s locations. Country bands perform at the restaurants at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays at the one at 6075 Indian River Road and 7 pm. Thursdays 701 Independence Blvd. 6075 Indian River Road and 701 Independence Blvd.
22. Artist talks at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art are held throughout the summer, usually in the evenings. Hear Q&As with visiting artists.
23. Run in a 5k every week on the Boardwalk. The races start at 31st and are every Wednesday through August.
24. Step into your boots and head over to the Virginia Beach Farmers Market every Friday night for a hoedown. They last from 7 to 10 p.m. at 3640 Dam Neck Road.
25. Can you solve puzzles and piece together clues to solve a mystery? Try your hand at Escape Room Virginia Beach. It's at 408 Investors Place #107.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sammy's Hashbrowns/30 Recipes Down

Tonight's recipe was actually part of our breakfast and was one from Just a Bunch of Recipes.

Sam wrote, "Breakfast is my favorite meal, and over the years, I'm sure I've had hundreds of pounds of lousy, weak, or tasteless hash browns (which somehow I still managed to eat). But the thought of all those bad extra calories just makes me want to scream."

I do love a good breakfast for any meal. In fact, I love pancakes and waffles for lunch. IHOP was made for people like me. And despite not ever getting hash browns to turn out the way I'd like them to (crispy and slightly crunchy), I still try to make them.

My problem with hash browns is the damn temperature. I never get it high enough to get the pan really hot and smoking. I should have let my husband make these because he truly makes a mean breakfast. However, even though my take on this recipe was a little on the limp side, Shane actually liked them, and he knows not to lie about my cooking (otherwise I'll keep on making something if he says he likes it but he's just lying about it to be nice).

What did I learn from this recipe?
I learned that despite liking hash browns, I didn't like this recipe. It calls for a red bell pepper. Since my husband doesn't like bell peppers, I substituted some sweet peppers instead. I think the combination of those with the olive oil gave it kind of a tart, weird taste.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bacon Guacamole/29 Recipes Down

I made this as a little snack before going to a Fourth of July BBQ yesterday. The recipe comes from Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Shortcuts.

I like guacamole and figured bacon just makes everything better, so this has got to be a kick ass dish, or as Sam recommends, added on a burger.

But in reality, this recipe fell a little flat for me. For one, it just seemed a little bland. I don't think I was heavy handed with the salsa, but that was the dominant flavor in this dish.

And for two, I really prefer guac to be served cold. When it was said and done, it was really room temperature.

However, this actually kept in the frig for an entire 24 hours, without the avocados turning brown. The only reason I can come up with why has to be something (a preservative?) in the already made salsa.

What did I learn from this recipe?
So yeah, here's my big surprise here...I know I've said before that I don't like lime. Well guess what...this recipe calls for the juice of half a lime.

It wasn't enough...I had to add more lime juice. I used 3/4 of a lime here instead of 1/2.

The lime just works really well in this recipe.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summertime in Norfolk

Summertime in Norfolk is our eternal season — one unending sunset over the water, a sustained laugh across the months of Cancer and Leo, the taste of oysters and craft beer and salt and love always a lick away on our upper lips.

It's especially easy to be happy in Norfolk in the summer and to feel grateful for our fair city. For those of you new in town or a native always looking for that next great NFK experience, I've made a list of ways to get the most out of this summer here in the Mermaid City.

The first 25 were published last week. Here are the rest:

26. Behold the majesty of a Hampton Roads thunderstorm over the battleship Wisconsin from the top of the Plume St. parking garage.

27. Breathe in deep and enjoy the sights (and smells!) of the Norfolk Botanical Garden on its tram ride.

28. Learn about sustainable shorelines at the city's free Public Wetlands Education Seminar on July 14. You might just help save Norfolk for future generations of summer lovers.

29. Taste the best of the sea by ordering any of the oyster dishes from A.W. Shucks. I’ve actually done this at the Sunset Grill in Norfolk, during the summer, in the form of an oyster and brie appetizer. Good stuff, but I’ve come to realize I may be allergic to raw oysters. My face has turned red and hot, and my lips have puffed up to Angelina Jolie-proportions. Which, I find to be a big bummer, because I actually liked the raw oysters I’ve had.

30. Check out the latest shows at Work | Release and Glass Wheel Studio, then take yourself on a self-guided tour of the dozens of pieces of public art in the NEON. #NFKARTCITY

31. Toast to good friends with Can Night at Crackers ... underneath the giant scrabble board at Coelacanth ... with a steampunk vibe at Brick Anchor Brew House ... at the new kid on the block in Park Place, Rip Rap Brewing ... on the back deck of Greenies ... Crackers?? I love that place! It’s a really nice establishment where the wait staff there is knowledgeable about the appetizers they serve there and treat everyone well, no matter that you have in your glass. Greenie’s? Not so much. The food is your standard beach bar fare, and you really need to be a drinker with a dick between your legs to get a waitress to notice you. Since I neither drink nor have a dick to show off, I tend to be ignored there unless my husband speaks up for me.

32. Experience Norfolk on two wheels with Cindy Lou's Saturday morning bike rides, starting off at East Coast Bicycles in OV, and ending up at brunch. We tend to go riding around the Ocean View area of Norfolk fairly regularly, but usually in the evenings. As for brunch, I’d recommend The Public House in Ghent.

33. Teach our children well by volunteering with the United for Children program. Looking for an educational place to volunteer? Go to the Virginia Aquarium in Virginia Beach and work in the whale and dolphin sight seeing department. I got to see humpback whales while on those trips as a docent, and it really changes your view on our ocean out here.

34. Take it easy on Sunday morning with The Team America at 80/20's brunch.

35. Go to Cure in Freemason and get an iced coffee, then stroll along the historic cobblestones in one of America's most resilient cities.

36. Fear no judgment while you dance like wild summer rain to live music at the Cutty Shark.

37. Live Zen, Norfolk. Sunset yoga happens on Wednesday nights at the Pagoda pier with Bhav Brigade and pop-up meditation classes also happen at Slover Library and Stockely Gardens.

38. Find a kayak and explore The Hague for a fun today and a taste of the watery Norfolk of tomorrow.

39. Stand on Willoughby Spit and remember the morning in the 1660s when that plot of land appeared, delivered by storm, much to the surprise of Lady Willoughby. We went kayaking out in the bay, close to Willoughby Spit, this last weekend. Waterfront and beachfront access be damned...WHY would anyone want to build a house on a spattering of sand that was deposited there by a hurricane??? A hurricane can take it right back away! That being said, I think Willoughby Spit and Ocean View in Norfolk are more the stereotypical beach neighborhoods, and I enjoy them.

40. Laugh along with Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from "Parks and Recreation") and Megan Mullally (Karen from "Will & Grace") on Aug.14 at Chrysler Hall. I've seen "Wicked," Gabriel Iglesias and John Mellancamp here. Great place for smaller shows.

41. See the bustling ports of Hampton Roads and learn about our nautical history on the Rover.

42. Acquiesce to those island vibrations with Nature's Child's regular Monday sets at Scotty Quixx.

43. Buy a copy of the meaty Sunday edition of The Virginian-Pilot, turn the phone off for 45 minutes and dig into the newspaper while enjoying the Beatles at Fair Grounds.

44. Grab a GIANT slice from Benny Damato's on Granby and take it to Town Point Park on a non-festival day. It's our park every day, all year, after all.

45. Build something with your own two hands at 757 Makerspace, where they offer classes for both adults and children.

46. Get hyped with the Norfolk State marching band at the home kickoff on Sept. 3.

47. Decide school will be in for summer. Fall classes at Tidewater Community College begin Aug. 22. I've actually already done this. Several years ago, I tried to go back to school for a new degree and just wasn't able to get into that program, but I was able to get one class taken there.

48. Lower your blood pressure on an evening stroll along Mayflower Road in Colonial Place as the moonlight flickers off the Lafayette River.

49. Get down with elephants — and the Deloreans — at ZooGrooves on Aug. 27. If you’re in the 757, then you aren’t really a local then. Go see and hear them play. You will be transported right back into the 80’s! While a trip to the Virginia Zoo is great, I’ve been there before and prefer to visit just to see the animals. I’ve been there for special events and just didn’t find it very enjoyable.

50. Manifest the Norfolk of your dreams by supporting the local businesses that give our city its unique personality. Whether it's a burger at LeGrand, a turnover from the Bakehouse at Chelsea, a cold beer at the Ocean View Pier, or something nutritious and delicious from Green House Kitchen, visiting local businesses is always in good taste. My favorite local businesses are East Coast Bicycles, Ocean View Hardware and the Book Exchange.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Chili Mayo/28 Recipes Down

Okay, so this is just a weird little addition to my latest obsession with trying to cook everything that Sam the Cooking Guy has published in two of his cookbooks. If you actually read my drivel here, then thanks for hangin' with me, but you know that sometimes I go off on a tangent. Like, sometimes, I need to make something from his show that's not in the books so I have to go find it online.

This is one of those times.

The other night, I was watching a never before seen rerun of "Sam the Cooking Guy" on our local cable access station. It was one where Sam was tailgating at a football stadium, presumably the Chargers stadium in San Diego. I looked for a clip online of it, and couldn't find it. I couldn't even find the recipe on his website. But I'm going to post it here anyway, because all I'm posting is just a small part of the finished recipe.

Sam made a soy marinated mushroom and Swiss cheeseburger, large enough to feed like 4-8 people. He mixed some mayo and some chili sauce (the bottle looked like Sriracha sauce, specifically, the kind with the rooster), and then spread that on the bun.

We were making BLT's today for lunch, and I decided to whip up some of that same sauce. Instead of Sriracha, I had some sweet chili sauce. That's all it was: equal parts of mayo and the sauce.

What did I learn from this recipe?
I've used this saying before, and it applies here today: "Taste so good, make you wanna slap yo'mama!" Holy know what I learned? I learned you can mix chili sauce with damn near anything and it'll taste like heaven!

It was so good that Shane wanted some for his sandwich, so I had to make up another container of it to leave in the frig for a little while for other stuff to try it with. :)