Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gulf Shores Photo Contest Results

Once again our beach-going visitors captured their own unique views of their favorite coast and submitted amazing photos of the Gulf Shores area in our recent Facebook photo contest.

The winning shot was unanimously selected and I believe you will agree that the image of these precious children, heading down the boardwalk at a rental house in Orange Beach to meet more of the family at the beach, captures the spirit of our family-oriented beach. In fact it was their grandparents from Prattville, Alabama who submitted the photo and won a 3-night spring vacation. I love seeing them all decked out in their precautionary swim gear and carrying their beach equipment. I personally think the "big brother" is leading his "little sister" down the path but others seeing the photo believe just the opposite. I will leave that up to your interpretation.

Speaking of precious children, I smile each time I see the sweet little boy gripping his football in the 2nd place photo taken in Gulf Shores near Driftwood Towers. You can feel the warmth of the sun as it shines on his blond hair and see his family from Cabot, Arkansas relaxing behind him on our sugar white sands. We know our beaches are where SEC families come to play and I think it's so cute to see this young star in the making.

Our 3rd place winning photo is an awesome closeup of a heron who arrived on a Gulf Shores boardwalk to "visit" the coastal visitors from Amarillo, Texas. He looks so regal and at home in this natural environment where the surf fishing is great for man and birds alike.

The process of choosing the top three images was definitely difficult and there are two more photos listed in an "Honorable Mention" category that definitely depict a broad aspect of the island.

The first photo (in no particular order) portrays three little girls in their colorful coastal attire exploring the edges of Little Lagoon. This beautiful body of water lies parallel to the Gulf waters in Gulf Shores. When you travel a few miles west down West Beach Boulevard you can see the lagoon waters to your right and the gulf waters to your left. In fact, lots of vacation rental condos and houses on West Beach Blvd. have great views of both bodies of water.

The second one is a great shot at Kiva Dunes subdivision at Fort Morgan, where these gorgeous vacation rental homes overlook the world-class golf course to the north and the beaches to the south. If you look closely at the oleander shrubbery in the photo you can see the purple flowers. Although this photo angle doesn't show the wide white beaches that are so secluded, rest assured that there is a common boardwalk to the beach in this exclusive neighborhood that also offers renters three community outdoor pools, tennis courts and a fitness room in addition to Kiva Dunes golf course.

There were many more fabulous coastal shots submitted during the Facebook photo contest and I will continue to display them in this BLOG from time to time, so that you can enjoy them as much as I do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Turkey and Tanger at Your Beach

Eat, eat, eat. Shop, shop, shop. I love both activities and especially at Thanksgiving time. Here are a couple of tips from my "local" perspective for your holiday weekend at the beach.

EAT - One of my favorite restaurants, The Hangout, will be serving a Thanksgiving feast family-style at your table, which personally I like better than a buffet. Besides roasted turkey (with gravy of course) you can pay extra for prime rib. The traditional sides we've come to crave after years of eating them at Grandmothers house will also be served - homemade cranberry sauce, cornbread & sausage stuffing, sweet potato streusel, green bean casserole, fresh corn, mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, deviled eggs and fresh hot rolls. Room for dessert? You pick either pecan pie (my choice), bread pudding or pumpkin pie. Yum Yum. This fabulous feast, served between 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.,is $22 for adults, $9 for ages 6-12 and free for the under age 5 kiddies with a paid adult. If you are renting from Meyer Vacation Rentals show your confirmation when you purchase your meal and you will receive complimentary wine or champagne. For reservations call (251) 948-3030.

SHOP - Rest up after the turkey, maybe take a walk on the beach or a snooze by the pool because you need to get ready for the biggest sale event on the coast. Ready, set, go at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night itself when the Tanger Outlet Center Moonlight Madness sales begin. Special giveaways occur at 10 p.m., 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Moonlight Madness bargains exist throughout the 120-store outlet center not just Thanksgiving and Black Friday but all weekend long (Nov. 24-27).

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to pause a little and take the time to reflect on our abundant blessings and that is why the beach is an awesome place for family and friends to celebrate. I'm blessed to live here year-round and I warmly invite you to join me on the coast to eat, shop and be thankful.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Meat Market in Orange Beach Offers Delicious Options

I love pimento cheese. This is a little known fact about me but it takes me back to my childhood. One of our newest food stores, The Meat Mart, located in Orange Beach at 4528B Easy St. at the entrance to the Orange Beach Golf Center, offers delicious pimento cheese plus quality beef, chicken, sausages, crab cakes and homemade salads.

To me one of best experiences at the beach is preparing one or more meals at the condo or house you are renting. In addition to our well-stocked area grocery stores, this new butcher shop is an option to purchase the ingredients for a great meal served in the privacy of your vacation residence. I call the store new but it actually opened around Memorial Day, so I guess it's somewhat new.

Glenn and Dale Beard from Georgia decided to open their Meat Mart in Orange Beach after falling in love with the area during a visit last fall. In addition to restaurant quality prime beef cuts, they also offer 100% natural chicken that is hormone free and antibiotic free.

So we've already established that the Meat Mart carries pimento cheese and you’ll also find smoked tuna dip, five flavors of twice-baked potatoes and homemade seafood, chicken and potato salads. Sausages are also a specialty at the Meat Mart with over 20 varieties including sun-dried tomato basil and savory chicken. As if these items are not enticing enough they also sell crab cakes and portabella mushroom caps filled with crab cake stuffing as well as kabobs and beef pinwheels. I remember my mother making pinwheels for parties, so that takes me back to my youth too.

Whether you are a couple spending a couple of days or a big group staying a week at the beach in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Perdido Key, I'm happy to report to you that there are now new culinary options.