Rural Ramen

I got a total wild hair yesterday and decided to make ramen for supper.  Mr. Smith and I had a couple of friends coming over for a dog play-date and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe. These friends are adventurous types so they were willing to be guinea pigs!

I just googled ‘vegetarian ramen’ and the first 2 recipes that came up sounded pretty good. I basically pulled elements from both of these and cobbled together my own recipe based on those.

Here are links to the original recipes:

The first recipe is from The Minimalist Baker who has LOTS of delightful recipes.

The second recipe is from Umami Girl who I’ve only just discovered. This recipe for Peppermint Meringues is calling my name already.

Both of these very nice ladies live in places where it is easy to purchase things like dried shiitake mushrooms, chili oil, miso paste, and ramen noodles that cost more than ten cents a packet. I happen to live in a relatively rural area in North Carolina, and while I could certainly find the ingredients SOMEWHERE, I was not able to get them immediately enough to satisfy this wild hair I got.

That’s why I’m calling this Rural Ramen.



  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 2- inch piece ginger (peeled and diced)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (I had 4 cups of store bought vegetable stock {comes in a 32 oz container}. I added 2 cups of water to make up the other 2 cups of liquid)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp teriyaki marinade sauce
  • 6 baby portabella mushrooms, very thinly sliced


Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.

Once hot, add oil, garlic, ginger, and onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally until the onion has started to soften and caramelize.

Add 1 cup of the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Be sure to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. You don’t want them to stick AND they make the flavor of the broth more delicious!

Add remaining 5 cups vegetable broth, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and mushrooms.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer on low for at least 1 hour, up to 2-3, stirring occasionally. The longer it cooks, the more the flavor will deepen and develop. I let it simmer for about 2.5 hours–or just enough time for the dogs to play super hard until the sun went down!

Now for the toppings.

I had never soft boiled an egg before and I may have had beginners luck because they turned out PERFECT. Here is how I did it. (Let me know if you are able to replicate my success with this method!)

I used my electric tea kettle to boil water to 212 degrees F. If you do not have an electric tea kettle, I cannot express how much I recommend you get one. It makes so much food prep go so much faster. I use mine anytime I need to boil water because it does the job in about TWO MINUTES. So helpful. I digress.

I used a room temperature 2 quart sauce pan and approximately 1.5 quarts of boiling water. I put the eggs in straight from the refrigerator into the boiling water. It took the pot about 6 minutes to return to a rolling boil. Once the rolling boil started, I turned the heat off, put the pot in the sink, and let the cold tap run over the pot until the eggs were cool enough to handle. I then peeled the eggs and sliced them in half.


  • 8 chopped green onions (green and white)
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, thinly sliced, pan seared with EVOO
  • 1/2 head of cabbage lightly pickled (thinly sliced, sea salt, rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 block firm tofu, sliced and pan seared with EVOO
  • 6 thinly sliced portabella mushrooms
  • chili garlic sauce (see below picture)


About 10 minutes before I served the soup I prepared the noodles. Again, remember I live in the country. I consider myself lucky that I was able to get the “Oriental” flavor of Maruchan, the only semi-vegetarian flavor (processed in a shellfish facility). I used two packets of noodles, didn’t use the flavor packets. I broke each noodle block in half, which made four portions. I then put these four chunks into a bowl of boiling water to ‘cook’ the noodles.

I divided the soup evenly in four bowls. Each bowl got a cooked chunk of noodles and two halves of soft boiled egg. I served all the other toppings on the table so everyone could add what they wanted.

Another note: I served the soup in metal bowls that we usually use for salads. I would definitely recommend using ceramic bowls instead. The metal seemed to cause the soup to cool faster than usual. I only used those bowls because I had four that matched! This is the price I payed for being too matchy-matchy!!

I can’t believe I only took one picture! I just went back and took a picture of the condiments so you can have something else to look at. Next time I will do better about my photography. Anyway, I hope this is helpful and I hope you enjoy it! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions!



Move over BirchBox…


You know, the monthly subscription boxes.

Make-up. Dog treats. Wine. Legos.

There is a crate for every weirdo out there…thank goodness.

Birchbox, you ain’t got nothin’ on Japan Crate!!!


I’m totally smitten. I’ve only tried Birch Box, and I liked it okay but it was pretty expensive for what it was. When I signed up and filled out the questionnaire I figured they would actually take in to consideration what I said: I love nail polish and hate perfume. Well, guess who got perfume and no nail polish for 3 months? I don’t mean to sound so whiny, and in fact my 3 month trial was a gift and it was fun to get something in the mail every month. Amethyst has a similar experience with Ipsy. I like the idea behind these boxes but I think cosmetics are just too specific to treat generically.

I do NOT feel this way about snacky foods from Japan.

I do not feel this way about adorable collectibles.

Enter Japan Crate

Here is what is looked like right as we* opened the box!

*we is me and Amethyst–we went in on the JapanCrate together. The DokiDoki box was all hers…but she ended up sharing some of it with me anyway. Such a good friend 🙂

Here is the loot!


We split up all the stuff into things that I could eat (without gelatin) and what Amethyst wanted. I wanted to eat that marshmallow SO BAD! Dang. The potato chips (upper left) were seasoned with seaweed, but in an American sort of way. I LOVE 100% seaweed ‘chips’ though, so my threshold for that flavor is pretty high. I honestly thought these were kinda bland. That did not stop me from eating the entire bag, though. 😉 The caramel puffed corn (upper right) was really tasty, but the pieces looked like grub worms. It’s worth noting that there were at least 4 items that tasted like their food base was a flavorless cheesy poof. But in a good way. It’s kinda hard to describe.

Speaking of, the Big Bar was like a white chocolate covered cheesy poof. The pictures I took of the Big Bar were all blurry. Probably because I was so excited to eat it lol! I liked this candy a LOT and would have eaten four of them if I could. The chocolate was a little on the greasy feeling side, but despite that strange sensation it was still worth eating again.

Here is the Bungeoppang or Taiyaki. Have you ever had an Aero Bar? The chocolate inside was full of tiny air bubbles sort of like that. The outside was a remarkably light, crispy wafer. It was a bit like a reverse KitKat bar. I’m not sure that I’d go out of my way to get another one of these candy bar versions, but I would LOVE to try one of the ones that is made with batter and red bean filling.



Panda Cookies!


Grumpy Panda does NOT want to get eaten!

Too bad.

He was delicious.


That is not a palm full of drugs! It’s a pop-rocks kind of candy that was AWESOME! The popping pieces were way big and so they popped BIG in your mouth! They actually verged on hurting! It was wonderful. The flavor was supposed to be cola (the popping part) and lemonade (the round pieces). I would love to have a whole box of these packets!

The candies on the right were 100% honey hard candies. The candy itself was about the size of a dime. I liked them okay. It tasted a bit like ‘old lady’ suck candy. They’d probably be really nice if you had a sore throat. They tasted like honey, but with a vegetable-esque after taste.

Here is the crazy DIY goo that came with the crate. We had a hilarious blast mixing this up when ModMom and Grumpy Skittles came over for the latest Doll Club meeting. It was SO GOO-ey! The consensus was that it tasted pretty good but that is was pretty weird having to bite off a liquid!


Full disclosure, I’m not sure that I would want to get this box every month, or rather, I don’t have the disposable income to afford $30 worth of Japanese snacks every month. If I won the lottery, I would absolutely get this crate every month! The DokiDoki box is more to my fancy. Pretty much every thing that came in it was full blow squee worthy.

Here is the Doraemon coin purse that I got from the DokiDoki box!

Amethyst thinks Doraemon is too weird. I think he’s just right, haha!


The verdict on these boxes? I LOVE THEM. I hope I can scrounge up enough money for the June DokiDoki crate which is HARAJUKU themed!!!! Ahhhhhh! And if I win the lottery, I’ll get the Japan crate, too XD

Stay tuned to Thirsty Thursday for a review of the soft drink you saw in the box!

What crates to y’all subscribe to?

Have you had similar good & bad luck with the contents?

Garden update #2, + BONUS recipe


Check out how things are growing in my little garden!


So the radishes are sort of a fail. I thought I was planting a variety that didn’t need thinning out, but given how these look, I think I was mistaken. I have seeded another pot that have just sprouted true leaves and I definitely gave them a few inches growing room all around. Hopefully they will do better than these. The upside is that I learned radish leaves are edible. Once they get tall they sort of start to have scratchy leaves, but when they are still tender the leaves are really delightful as an addition to salad greens.


I’m still holding out hope that I thinned the carrots (far left) enough that they’ll produce more than an orange thread. I HATE thinning out plants. It’s dramatic, I know, but it just feels so awful, like I’m aborting little baby plants! Do any of you have this problem? I know that it’s so the other plants will grow, but I still hate it 😦 That said, I also thinned out an additional pot of radishes (far right). I’m gonna be super bummed if these don’t do better, especially after I DID thin them out.

GOOD NEWS: the lettuces are freaking delicious!

BAD NEWS: there was only enough for a side salad!


This is one of my current favorite things to cook.

“Orecchiette a la North Grove Park Inn”

Ingredients for the pasta (serves 2):

  • 1.5 c. small pasta (like shells or orcchiette)
  • 3 boiled eggs
  • handful tender radish leaves, torn
  • handful fresh dill, torn
  • 4 T EVOO
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette: (combine ingredients in a small mason jar)

  • 3 T spicy mustard
  • 1/4 c. fancy vinegar (I use something like this)
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t EVOO
  • splash of citrus (whatever you have-oj, lemon, lime)

Cook the pasta to the directions on package. While it’s cooking, chop up the boiled eggs, tear radish leaves and dill and put to side. Drain pasta but leave in the pan. Toss pasta with the EVOO and salt and pepper. Plate the pasta and top with egg, radish leaves and dill. Grind bit of extra S&P. For the TINY salad tear lettuce into bite sized pieces. Shake the ingredients in the mason jar. Dress the lettuce leaves. Enjoy!


I’m going to experiment with seeding lettuce with this technique. My pals over at The Behrer Home had great luck with their first try at a crop of radishes using this method. I think lettuces should do well this way, too, and then Mr. Smith and I can have an actual plate of salad for supper instead of a teaser taste! Read more here for a tutorial on how to try out this weed-free grow method.


Here are two of the zucchini  plants. They’re really sprouting leaves! The squash look pretty much the same so I’m not bombarding you with pictures of the same looking thing over and over. OH LOOK MOAR DIRT AND LEAF TIME 😉


This is a moon flower that also came from my cousin Sherrill and uncle, Bryce. She says it only blooms at night and that it is prolific in growing once planted in the ground. And obviously, I haven’t planted it in the ground yet, so here it sits under my carport. I just can’t decide where it should go yet!


Here is the main crowning achievement, my piece de resistance, my ASPARAGUS PLANT! Now I know that EVERYONE says not to plant asparagus in pots, but I’m trying it because I’m not planning on living at my rental house forever, so I’d like to get a plant started that I can take with me when I leave.

The big part of the plant does not look so hot, and in fact I thought I had already killed it. The other night, I moved some plants out from under the eaves so they could get a drink from the nice soft rain that was falling. I looked in the asparagus pot to check on the little tomato and dill plants (that I have got to re-pot) and SAW THE STALK! There, standing tall and proud, was an asparagus! I hope the positive progress continues!

So, how are your gardens growing?

Have you tried any new plants or seeds or growing methods?

Tell me all about it!

How does your garden grow?

Here is the start of the garden! The picture on the left was taken on March 26 and the one on the right was taken April 17. So far things are moving along pretty well for someone who hasn’t had a garden in at least seven years. Mr. Smith and I made a list of things we’d like to try to grow in the meager space I have at my house. I’m hoping to get a zucchini plant to put in today back in the back spot that looks like a mound of dirt. That’s where I’ve had a compost-y area for the past 2 years and the dirt is getting pretty nice.

I’d like to try Brussel’s sprouts and Mr. Smith wants to try asparagus. Both of these are plants that take a few seasons to really get going and since we both live in rentals we are thinking of trying to grow one of each in pots. I’ve read a bit online about doing this successfully but please chime in if you have any advice!

I seeded these radishes on 3/26 and took the picture on the left on 4/5. The picture on the right I took on 4/17. I know you’re *supposed* to thin them out, but this is a variety that does okay in pots and close-r together. I’ll keep you posted on whether this ends up being true. Speaking of true, the true leaves are really starting to get going, so I’m thinking I might be able to harvest in the next week or ten days.

I meant to start another bucket of lettuce like a week after the first one but I just got around to doing that yesterday 4/16 so the continual lettuce will take a little longer than I anticipated. Lettuce sprouts pretty quick though so I think I’ll catch back up in no time.

Do you recognize what those buckets are made out of? LOL, it’s kitty litter containers. I have tried so many litters over the years and unfortunately the stuff that works the best for my girls is stuff that comes in these dumb plastic containers. I repurpose them for all sorts of things, including planters. I just cut the tops off, and poke a bunch of holes in the bottom for drainage and they work pretty well. After a season I’ll recycle them (to prevent leaching of anything toxic after a few months in the sun) and start another batch.



Finally, some true leaves of DILL! I have the WORST luck with this herb! My great uncle Bryce has epic stands of the stuff much to the chagrin of the rest of his kin! I’ve tried buying plants and I’ve tried seeding directly in the ground, but never in pots. Maybe this is the ticket? I know it’s still early, but I am hopeful and excited. Dill is my most favorite summer flavor and I hope this is the year I finally grow a reasonable amount of my own.


I started these Big Boy tomato plants from seed in the first few days of March. I divided them up and transplanted them and ended up with about 13 plants that are probably going to grow to maturity. These are the plants in the white plastic dish tub in the top pictures. I also impulse bought a yellow tomato variety that is the one in the bigger terracotta pot. We may be running out our ears in tomatoes later this summer!


Now I know that mint is not hard to grow, but I’m still proud of this year’s stand. Last year I bought a regular peppermint plant and a chocolate mint plant and propagated about 6 cuttings of each. The regular is the tall stuff in the back and there is some of the chocolate in the front right–it’s got darker leaves and leaves that are smoother and more petite. The plants did okay last summer, but this year we shall not hurt for mint in our cocktails. Bring on the mojitos and mint juleps!


Allen the Aloe has gotten moved outside for his summer vacation. It looks like he’ll need a new pot this year! I’ve had this aloe for about 3 years–my mom got it for my 31st birthday as part of a beautiful pot full of other succulents that I promptly killed. It really only took off after I put the frames of the sunglasses in the pot two years ago–I dug the frames out of the garden bed my first year at this house. I have a friend Allen who wears glasses like that, so I named the plant after him. I think it has greatly increased the happiness of the plant and therefore has helped it grow! It’s the silly little things, right?


Speaking of digging thing out of the beds, I found these, too! Aren’t they the sweetest? It makes me kind of sad to think that some kids probably made them and they got left behind at moving time, but now they are mine and I will take them with me and love them forever.

Do you have a garden this year? What are you growing? Do you have any advice for me?

Stay tuned for garden updates as the season continues!

Picayune Pictures #5

Here is one of the reasons you haven’t heard from me in days! I was really hoping to do some on-the-road blogging but my dear darling Duck Rabbit “wild cat” Rousey did THIS to my phone’s charging cord. As you can see, I tried to repair it before. After two nights of not getting a good charge on my phone I realized it was because the cord was nearly chewed in half. I pretty much just had enough juice to get some pictures taken. Now I have a fancy new pink cord. BAD KITTY.




I have had MAJOR knitting drama over the past week or so. I’ve been working on my third sweater (in a pattern I’ve knitted twice before) and I really messed up some calculations. I’d come up with a way to “fix” one of the mistakes (laddering was a success) but when the next wrong calculation (the steek was also a success but created a NEW problem) became obvious I just decided to take. the. whole. damn. thing. apart. I’ve since restarted it with major modifications. Stay tuned to see if I’m happier with the second attempt. Totally bummertown.

Aaaaand my little bird friend from last spring is back and has taken up residence in my mail box again. I’ve got to write a “Do Not Disturb” sign on it so that mama bird doesn’t abandon her eggs. Does anyone recognize what type they might be? If so, please comment!


I was really sad to hear about the passing of Earl Hamner, Jr. For those who might not recognize his name, he was the author of the book The Homecoming that later inspired the television show The Waltons. This book particular copy of the book was given to me years back and it has since been one of my most prized possessions. If you haven’t read the book, you totally should–I can’t say enough good things about it, particularly if you are interested in frugal country living and wholesome family fun. Here is a wonderful obituary that the New York Times posted over the weekend.

I had Easter lunch at my house with my mom and Mr. Smith! We had Alton Brown’s citrus salmon (a family favorite), deviled eggs, roasted sweet potato salad, the best coleslaw ever, and grilled pineapple on coconut gelato for dessert. And wine, of course. Would you  like a tutorial on how to make this award winning slaw? To be honest it hasn’t actually won any awards but I am pretty sure it would/could/will someday. Tell me if you are interested in the recipe and I *might* let y’all in on the secret ingredients.


After cutting the grass for the first time this season it was time to whip out the Twang. Stay tuned for a special drink themed post later in the week… 😉

I’ve also got two vacation posts coming up–about the area in eastern North Carolina where I used to live, and the trip mom and I made to Replacements. Stay tuned for the posts that were inhibited because of the phone cord drama! BAD KITTY!


Tiny Tuesday #2

Welcome back for MOARRRR TINY!!!!


Just look at these little sandwich sets!  Tuna salad and hamburgers!  The only thing that could make this better is if the mayonnaise jars were Duke’s instead!  Too bad this etsy shop is pretty much empty right now.  I hope Cute in Miniature restocks soon!


                                                I want this ice tray to be a real thing so bad,                                                       but it is just an advertisement for small cans of Pepsi.


photo via:


photo via Amazon




According to the Amazon reviews this little USB vacuum is not worth a darn.  I still say it would be worth having for the cute factor!  I wonder if it could vacuum up glitter?  Because really, that’s the important thing, right?  This little vac is perfect doll height!  I totally want one.







photo via Shop Sweet Things


I love crowns.  They are so fun.  Of course TINY crown are double fun! And, I am pretty sure that my 30ish birthday number will look just as cute as this lil beebee’s #1 does.  There is even a tutorial over at Shop Sweet Things.  Bonus points for the use of a 2 dollar bill ❤


These tiny stars are cute and so stinking easy to make. Fill up a jar and give as a little gift!



photo via

If you were a kid in the 1990s and if you were VERY LUCKY then you might have gotten Koala Yummies as a treat.  I used to get them when I went on Girl Scout camping trips (our first night out we had to pack a supper and mine was always Beanie-Weenies in a pop top can, a can of potato sticks, and a box of Koala Yummies!) You can’t get the exact same thing anymore but you can get close: Hello Panda and Koala’s March.  So weird! So wonderful!  So kawaii!






One last cute tiny thing for this round:



photo via

This is a “bristle-‘bot” we made at Maker’s Club. It’s a homemade version of the very fun Hex Bug.  Check out how tiny it is! Here is a tutorial I wrote on how to make them:


Yay for tiny fun!  

Picayune Pictures #3

Some pictures, lately.

Let us admire the fluff of Sir Chester.  And he allows his minions to rub that belly!

(I got to spend some time with him at an Oscars party on Sunday.  Such a treat!)



Mom and I went to the Biltmore House this weekend with Mr. Smith and his mom.  The folks who run the house have relaxed their formerly VERY strict no-photography rules.  Now you can take pictures so long as there is no flash.  This made for very dark and mostly not terrific shots, but I will share what I was able to capture!

The Kitchens.

I have always been most smitten with the library and kitchen parts of the house.  I am lucky to live close enough that I get a season’s pass most years.  I love getting to see all the little details–the collection of copper pots, the funny box of fairy marshmallows, the wine bottle basket!  And check out the cabinets whose doors open UP!

The Halloween Room.

This room is seriously SO neat–please click through the link above to read more about it!  I would LOVE to have a room painted just for a party for me 🙂



We’re in the library!”

–unknown Saint


DUCK & DOLL HOUSE, a brief still life.

This is going to be a major work in progress.  I got this totally awesome doll house from friends of mine and am still in the planning stage of “what to do next”. Remember my “to-do” list?  Seems the cats really like the house, too.  I’m going to probably have to figure out how to share with them–it’s too cute watching them go in and out the windows and swat each other through the stairs!


I got to attend my first surprise party ever!  Boy was it sweet.  Just look at these beautiful cakes!  Happy birthday to my good quilting buddy.  I hope to grow up to be an awful lot like her ❤


Hope your week is off to a great start.  Stay tuned for more soon!


Recovery from vacation


Hello from regular, post-vacation life!

I’m just about unpacked and ready to start back to life’s routine.  Just about.


I am such a sucker for pastel colored food!  I saw these little ready made sundaes in the ice cream case as I hustled my way to the bathroom on a pit stop heading home.  We picked up the coconut patties as a little treat for my grandparents.  The Neapolitan bar was mom’s snack–that kind was always a favorite of my father.  He also loved Zagnut candy bars. Have you ever had one of them? Have you tried these sundaes?

Another fun fact: the gas station sold six packs of my favorite Catawba Brewing Company beer: White Zombie.  I love seeing micro-brews creeping their way across the state!

There are a few things from the trip that I forgot to tell you about.

The clown doll from Day 2 got SOLD!!!  I was back at the same store two days later and the clown doll (and a few other dolls) were gone.  I am so happy about it!  Truthfully, the clown would probably made it’s way into my life otherwise.

There were two funny things that I saw but couldn’t get a picture of in time.  One was a weird little convertible police car that was parked next to the Ruby Tuesday in Ormond beach.  THERE WAS A STORM TROOPER IN IT.  As I was writing this post I googled “storm trooper in Daytona” and this popped up!  Of course a picture of this made it to instagram!

The other thing was a sign for a pawn shop on Ridgeway, down toward the Port Orange area–their marquee read: WE BUY SMART PHONE TAXIDERMY TABLETS. Doesn’t get much better than that in signage!  ❤

These animals are certainly NOT taxidermied.

(Patti Smith and Duck get frisky with their friend; Fraidy hides.)

While mom and I were gone, Mr. Smith took care of the cats.  As and extra thanks (besides the silly touristy trinkets) I took him out to eat at Saigon Garden.  I got this fortune!  Haha!  We certainly did have a pleasant trip.  As a side note, if you live in the area and like Asian food, you MUST go to Saigon Garden.  I always get the V#6: fried tofu with rice noodles, cucumber, bean sprout, and peanuts.  Go ahead and drool over the menu.


Sunday was race day down in Daytona.  Back in the old days when my mom and granddaddy would go to the race, my grandmother and I would stay at the condo.  I told y’all about the writing in the sand trick (boy it sure didn’t work this year!) but there is another tradition I forgot until about lunch time yesterday: Macaroni and Cheese.  We always had fancy boxed shells and cheese for lunch on race day.  I had no boxed stuff at home, but I did have the goods to make it from scratch. (I promise to do a post about making it from scratch some day soon because it is SO GOOD.)  I had a random bag of lemon pasta from Aldi that I used since that was all I had.  Dang if I wish I hadn’t bought more bags of it!  Typical.  Anyway, here are some pics of the end product.

That’s about it for my vacation wrap up.  Happy Monday to everyone!



Daytona Adventures Part 3

Oh hello again!  

I’m glad you are tuning in to my vacation exploits, and enjoying them along with me!

This is one of my favorite houses in Daytona.  Note the vases on the exterior wall!  I am always worried that the vases will be gone–maybe they’re actually cemented to the little shelves?  They usually have plastic flowers in them.  Life goals: vases on the outside of my house.  I think it would be adorable, even on a farm house instead of a coastal rancher!


Today’s thrifting was a little less fulfilling than previous days but I still got a few gems, and pictures of some of the things I left behind.

At one of the GoodWill stores I found this Harajuku kawaii dream outfit starter kit.  Too bad the GLAM PIE shoes by Love Pastry were too big and the candy pop shirt was too small. Cinderella couldn’t win this one.  I also bypassed the cute little bus stop girl and the safety pin beaded angel, but they were totally worth showing you a picture of!


Okay now, here is the doll that I tried to buy yesterday at City Thrift and tried to buy again today.  Unfortunately she still didn’t get to come home with me.  The store has a policy that if an item doesn’t have a price tag, the item can’t be sold.  I guess this is presumably to  keep people from getting a different price? The cashier told me yesterday that the doll would be priced and ready for purchase today but she was still behind the counter with priced dolls so yet another cashier refused to sell her.  I guess I should have asked for a manager, but I just asked if I could take a picture.

I don’t think she is really worth anything monetarily, but I really like her.  I love her polka dotted dress, hoop earrings and big bosom!  At least I have a picture.

To soothe my sadface we went and lunched at Aunt Catfish.



Our local friend Suanne met us there for lunch.  She had to have water since she had to go to work, but mom and I had margaritas. These are legit cocktails, not the watered down stuff that a lot of tourist locations try to pass off.  Completely worth the $8.

This is a pretty quintessential tourist destination and you will probably have to wait for a table if you are around during the weekend or any peak week.  There is a reason for the crowd though–the food is perfect, and the restaurant is a well oiled machine.

Go ahead and drool. Sorry for the slightly shaky picture-I was twitching with delight.  Seen here is the fish reuben for $9.99.  Every meal comes with a cinnamon roll.  Not sure why they give you one; it’s just part of the shtick and thank goodness it is.  My mom usually manages to save hers for breakfast the next day but I do not have that kind of self control.


Pro tip: you can sit at the bar and order food and not have to wait on a table.  There is also a community table where you sit with strangers and also don’t have to wait as long.  There is a great hot and cold buffet that are worth indulging in also.  Um, all you can eat cheese grits and slaw?  Yes.  On the salad bar they have all the standards plus some specialties like pickled watermelon rind.  So fun!

After lunch we shopped our way through the food & booze that threatened to hold us back.

More strange dolls I snapped pictures of but did not snap up.

I almost couldn’t resist this stuffed cat.  I am such a sad sack for stuffed animals–I want to take them home when they look lonely!  I know it’s silly, but it’s how I am.  This sweet cat was just the prettiest lightest pale blue.  I finally decided that it was cute that surely someone would buy it for their kid or grandchild.  Sigh.

The cats on the right were totally bizarre plaster wall hangings about a pound a piece and 2 feet tall.  So delightfully creepy, but I was worried they would fall off the wall and break, even though they’d look amazing next to my pair of chihuahua pictures.  Yep, I have chihuahua pictures.


But for real, these Catholics have a garden of statues at every thrift store.


Here is your funny for the day: we’ve been driving past this place the whole trip and I finally got a decent picture of the sign.



The Desert Inn was one of the fanciest hotels that I remember from back when I was a kid. It always looked SO glamorous, so exotic.  The Inn had a multi-story lobby with chandeliers that lit up the inside at night and made the entrance look like something from a Humphrey Bogart movie.  There was a hurricane around 2006-2007 that have devastated Daytona area that have damaged many motels and hotels beyond repair.  The Desert Inn is one of the casualties of that storm.  I keep hoping someone with a ton of money will take on this once glorious location and bring back its former awe inspiring presence. So far the shell lingers with depressing no trespassing signs that threaten felony charges for entry.


On a happier note: HAPPY HOUR!  The Oyster Pub is a fantastic sports bar where each table has it’s own tv and they have 2 for 1 happy hour cocktails from 4 to 7 Monday through Friday.  This place proves that a bar can have stiff drinks for a good price, friendly service, and the staff can still make money off tourists.  Asheville bars could learn a lesson from places like this.

NOTE:  I loathe Keslowski–please excuse my use of his coaster.




Can you see the little lizard in the lower right corner of this picture?  I’ve been trying to get a picture for days of the silly little lizards that scurry around the grounds of our condo.  This is the best I have gotten!  I’ll try again tomorrow.






Here are today’s treasures, puny as they are!  2 little doll purses (for 10 cents each!), a tiger tail keychain, faux coral rosette necklace, Sally Hansen salon polish ($2.59!), set of doll eye chips and a diamond button (may can shave these down for a Bylthe–50 cents!), Cajun cookin’ playing cards with magnetic box (featuring a recipe on each card), and the real score of the day: cat earrings!!!!



This book.  I couldn’t resist.  I’ll report back on the gems that are surely inside.

See you tomorrow for the final vacation installment! 


Daytona Adventures Part 2

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!


Even though we have been taking this Daytona trip for about 34 years and staying at the same condo AND spending a LOT of time thrifting, we somehow only found the Our Lady of Lourdes thrift store just last year.  I bought a pair of bronze cowboy boots on the first visit.  Enough said.  We tried to hit up the store today but instead we found this sign.



We actually did find the building where we *think* the thrift store is located.  It sounds like it might be a weekend thing so we’ll check back in to it later in the week.  If the store is open, I’ll be sure to ask about the grotto thing.

Another perennial favorite is the Secret Attic.  I found some of these curiosities there:

Ughhhh I just love weird toys.  I may go back for this sunny clown doll.  It was 1/2 off…

Ceramic bell with tabby cat and a gold bow? Tiny little person with luxurious painted on lashes kneeling next an oversize shoe named January?  $4 jar of decorative rotten green beans?  Guess which one is coming home with me…


I saw this store out of the corner of my eye and hollered for mom to whoop it in to the parking lot.  It was worth it for both the signs and the tiny basket of trinkets I picked up there for just a dollar.  PLEASE DO NOT MAKE A MESS.


And then it was lunch time.  Last year while looking up breweries in the area we heard about BJ’s Taphouse.  It’s a chain which I sort of avoid in general, but this place is worth a try.  I mean, just look at these taps!  And this 4-screen Brady Bunch looking tv thing is pretty great, especially for sportsball and/or the political season.  I love multitasking.



During lunch hour there is a $7.99 unlimited soup and salad special.  You can mix and match all the choices you want–sorry I didn’t get a picture of EITHER of the Caesar salads that I ate; they were just that good.  There was also a wedge salad option, and this balsamic reduction Caprese salad.  Tomato bisque was only one vegetarian soup so I can’t speak to the others but the guy sitting next to us at the bar was raving about the chicken tortilla.

After fueling up our bellies it was race time!

Mom read in the newspaper that there was going to be a free fan event at the speedway today.  There was legit free parking in the CLOSE parking lots which made this a totally easy and for real FREE fan event!  I think this year is the 2nd time the speedway has hosted this.  If it happens again next year we will be there–mom and I are already planning drinks and snacks to take with us!  It still boggles my mind that you can walk around drinking out in the open, like you’re in New Orleans or something!

First stop was gift shops, because I love gift shops. Make me exit through one any time.

Water bottles and plushie racing critters!

It was kind of a bummer to discover that there isn’t a merch lot anymore.  It used to be that individual drivers had big rig trucks with all sorts of merchandise for sale.  Now all the merch is sold by one company an there aren’t as many inexpensive and sale items (like bumper stickers, key-chains, and last years shirts).   The one kind of cool thing was the vintage style items from retired or long lost drivers.  These Cale Yarborogh trucker style caps were really neat.



This little die cast car caught my eye because it says “Smith Auto Parts” (my last name).  On second glance I figured out that it’s actually a model of the car driven by a LADY driver named Louise Smith.  I can’t wait to read more about her!  Learn something new every day, y’all.




$8 domestics, $9 premium, $9 mixed drinks, $7 wine, $5.50 peanuts,  $4 water.

(Whew lordy, this is why ya bring your own supplies!)

Here are the rules for the race track!

(Can you bring knitting needles?  I still dunno because they didn’t check my bag!)


Requisite track shots!!!

I hadn’t been to the track since 2003 and boy have things changed.  There have been pretty major improvements made to the entire compound.  Unfortunately, tickets have gotten so pricey that we certainly can’t afford them anymore.  I’ll not get too political on that note–I was really excited to get to see all the changes…for free.  There were even some cars running laps during the fan event so we got to hear the roar!

Oh, rule breakers. NO STANDING.


It was a really fun time.  Thanks Daytona International Speedway for the dang rad freebie.

Here are the spoils of the day! Tiny telephone keychain, 2 tiny blue princess castles, tiny bear in a chef’s hat, troll doll with lavender hair, nekkid kewpie girl, doll spray bottle & milk carton, pop-a-point pencil, 80s pale pink basket, plastic box of 1×1 squares of multicolored paper , baja blast colored falsies with golden polka dots, stretchy black belt with hook buckle, fruity infuser water bottle.


More fun tomorrow!

Holler if you have any ideas for more fun stuff to do in the Daytona area! ❤