Pumpkin Pancakes

Have you noticed the pumpkin craze lately?  Everywhere I look I see pumpkin flavored or pumpkin scented products.  It’s a little crazy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkin flavored foods and drinks and I also love pumpkin scented candles and such but I actually think it’s a little out of control at the moment.  Even though I’m not getting on the crazy obsessed pumpkin bandwagon, I recently made some pumpkin pancakes.

Pancakes are one of my favorite breakfast foods.  They’re one of my weekend treats.  I try to keep them fairly healthy by making them with Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake and Baking Mix, and I always use pure maple syrup, preferably organic.  I never use those syrups that are loaded with sugar because I don’t think they taste nearly as good as pure maple syrup.

I decided to make pumpkin pancakes because I’ve only eaten them in restaurants and I wanted to see if I could make them at home.  I was worried they wouldn’t compare to the restaurant pancakes but I think my recipe turned out yummy.  It took me 2 attempts to get the recipe right but that happens sometimes.

I took some of the pancakes to work because I needed some taste testers since Luke doesn’t like pumpkin anything.  He won’t assist in the taste testing for any of my pumpkin recipes.  I wonder if he would have tried these pancakes if I’d added chocolate chips…nah, I doubt it.

pumpkin pancakes

Please forgive me for the pictures.  They’re definitely not the best pictures I’ve ever taken.  When I snapped these pictures, I was trying to rush out the door to go to work so I didn’t have much time to get a good shot.

Pumpkin Pancakes:

2 cups Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake & Baking Mix

1 1/2 cups milk

1 egg

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, whisk the ingredients together until combined.  The pumpkin puree makes it a thick pancake batter.  Over medium to medium high heat, cook the pancakes on a griddle pan (greased with canola oil) or skillet coated with canola oil.  Use a ladle or an ice cream scoop to pour the pancake batter on the griddle pan or skillet.  Once the pancakes start to bubble all over the top, flip and cook for another minute or so until the pancakes are golden brown and cooked through.

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Our Plan


You may have noticed Luke and I haven’t been posting recipes as often as we were.  We decided posting 5 days a week was a little too much for us and our schedules.  We’d noticed that we weren’t putting as much of ourselves in each post as we had in the beginning because our posts were rushed.  In order to get back to where we were, we decided posting 2 to 3 times a week would be better for us.

We’ve also decided to change things up a little.  Instead of Thursdays being the Thirsty Thursday theme, Thursdays are now going to be Throwback Thursday.  Throwback Thursdays are going to consist of Luke’s and my family recipes.  We’re going to share recipes we grew up on. Some weeks the family recipes may be desserts and some weeks it may be entrees.

We do most of our cooking on the weekends because that’s when we have the time to do it.  However, this weekend didn’t quite go according to plan so I’m not sure if we’ll be able to start the changes this week but definitely look for it next week.

For Sweet Tooth Tuesday, I’d planned on sharing the brown sugar oatmeal cookie recipe I came up with but I’m going to have to rethink that recipe and make some adjustments because when I pulled them out of the oven, they were completely flat.  They’re delicious but not pretty.  I’ll work on the recipe this coming weekend and hopefully get it right so I can share that with you next week.

We’re hoping you’ll like the little change we’re making.  If you have any suggestions on what themes or recipes you want to see, please feel free to make suggestions!  We’d love to get some feedback. :)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

This is a dark chocolate peanut butter cake with homemade hot fudge sauce and peanut glaze drizzled all over, and it’s incredibly easy to make!

chocolate peanut butter cake with slice


I love any dessert that has chocolate and peanut butter!  That combination is definitely my weakness.  I don’t crave many sweets but chocolate and peanut butter…yes please!

chocolate peanut butter cake

The cake is a dark chocolate fudge cake that’s loaded with peanut butter chips.  Since I made the cake using a cake mix, I felt obligated to make something homemade to add to the cake.  I thought a peanut butter glaze drizzled over the cake would be perfect but then I decided the peanut butter glaze wasn’t quite enough.  I needed more chocolate!  So I made a homemade hot fudge sauce too.

chocolate peanut butter cake with glazes


Just drizzle the cooled hot fudge sauce and peanut butter drizzle over the cooled cake and it’s ready to serve!


Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake:

1 box dark chocolate fudge cake mix

1 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cups peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray the bundt pan thoroughly with cooking spray.  Beat the cake mix, water, vegetable oil and eggs together. Stir in the peanut butter chips.  Pour into the greased bunt pan.  Bake per the cake mix instructions (32 – 36 minutes).  Set the cake aside to cool completely.

Hot Fudge Sauce:

4 tbsp butter/margarine

4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter/margarine.  Whisk the unsweetened cocoa in the melted butter/margarine.  Once combined, whisk in the half and half.  Then add the sugar and continue to whisk until combined.  Bring to a boil and whisk to make sure it doesn’t burn.  Let it boil for a minute or two until it thickens and continue to whisk.  Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Set aside to cool.

Peanut Butter Glaze:

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

2 tbsp creamy peanut butter

2 – 3 tbsp milk

In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners sugar, peanut butter and melt together until combined.

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Sweet Balsamic Salmon

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  Our weekend was filled with some football, some golf, a party and some cooking.  Everything was good too! My Dawgs won! Golf was a huge success! And we did some good cooking.

Fish was on the menu this weekend.  I can’t remember the last time we cooked fish at the house but it was a perfect night for it.  We tried a new salmon recipe and we both really enjoyed.  This is our Sweet Balsamic Salmon.

balsamic salmon


3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of yellow mustard

1 clove of minced garlic

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb of salmon

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 Cooking instructions:

I like cooking salmon in tinfoil pouches to keep all of the juices sealed in with the fish.  You can bake the salmon in the oven or you cook it on the grill.  Spray tinfoil with non stick cooking spray and place fish in the center of the tinfoil.  Salt and pepper the salmon and top each piece of salmon with minced garlic.   Whisk the balsamic, honey and mustard in small bowl to combine.  Pour the sauce over each piece of salmon.  Then fold tin foil and seal the edges.  Cook on the grill or in the oven at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes and enjoy!

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Get me to the Greek…..Steak and Veggie Pitas and Nachos

Jamie is super excited about the Greek Festival going on in downtown Columbia this weekend.  I ate lunch at the Greek Festival yesterday, and I told Jamie we’d go to the Greek Festival for lunch on Friday.  I had forgotten I’m playing in a golf tournament so our lunch date isn’t going to happen.  The good news is that the Greek Festival is going on through Sunday so we’ll make the trip downtown (25 – 30 minutes) and get our Greek on.

Earlier in the summer I had a hankering for Greek food so I decided to try to make some myself.  I even made a veggie version for Jamie which I thought was delicious as well.  We had cucumbers so we also made our own tzatziki.

greek both


So lets start with the meat:

2 lb London Broil

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp of salt and pepper

2 tbsp of oregano

Combine red wine vinegar, EVOO, salt, pepper and oregano.  Marinade the London Broil for at least 2 hours.  After marinading, remove the meat from the marinade and cook on the grill for 20/25 minutes.  Then let the meat rest for a few minutes and slice thin.

***Note you can also cook under the broiler on high for about 8 minutes on each side or until cooked to your desire.***

For the veggie version, use squash and zucchini (sliced long ways) and saute until soft.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add to the mixture below.  You’ll use the vegetable mixture for the meat version as well.

greek meat


Vegetable Mixture:

1 tablespoon of Olive Oil

1/2 of an onion, diced

1 hot banana pepper, sliced

1/2 tsp salt and pepper

1/4 tsp oregeno

1 tablespoon of Chopped Calamata Olives

1 tablespoon of Sundried Tomatoes out of the jar

2 Tablespoons of Feta Cheese

Heat the olive oil, once hot add the first four ingredients and cook until tender.  Add the olives and sundried tomatoes.  Then add in the feta cheese and cook for about a minute and then add in the meat.  Warm up the Flatbread/Pita bread and then spoon the mixture onto the flat bread.  Add tzatziki and a few slices of fresh tomatoe and you are good to go.

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Sometimes you have to be creative with leftovers.  I made Greek nachos with the mixture which is wonderful on kalamata olive tortilla chips.



greek nachos



greek veggie


For the veggie version, follow the same steps as above but without the meat.

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greek tzatziki


1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dill weed

In a small bowl, stir the ingredients to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


Homemade Baklava

Knowing how to make baklava at home means you can eat baklava more often, and if you’re like me, that’s super exciting!


I can’t wait for the Greek Festival this week!  Luke and I look forward to it every year.  Sometimes we go more than once because the food is so wonderfully delicious!  Last week, Luke informed me that he’d already made plans to go to the Greek Festival Thursday and Friday. I’m not joking when I say we get really excited about the Greek Festival.  The food can’t be beat and I love the energy and atmosphere.

Since we’re so excited about the Greek Festival, Luke and I decided we’d cook Greek food at home and share the recipes with you.


I love, love, love baklava but until the other day, I’d never made before.  I’m not going to lie…it was time consuming but it was totally worth it. The baklava turned out exactly the way I wanted.  It’s absolutely delicious!

baklava layered

To make this fabulous Greek dessert, you start by thawing the phyllo dough.  Once it’s thawed, stir about 3 1/2 cups of chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans or a combination of the two which is what I did), ground cinnamon, ground cloves and sugar together in a medium bowl.  Then melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter and set aside.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and layer 2 phyllo sheets in the baking dish.  Using a pastry brush, brush some of the melted butter on the phyllo dough.  Then sprinkle the nut mixture on the phyllo dough.  Repeat these steps until the nut mixture is gone and then continue to layer 2 sheets at a time and brush with butter before layering.  Continue until all of the phyllo sheets are used and brush the top sheet of phyllo dough with the melted butter.  Using a sharp knife, cut diagonally across the phyllo dough to make little diamond shape bites.  Bake at 350 degrees for 32 – 36 minutes or until it’s golden brown.

baklava unglazed

While the baklava is baking in the oven, start making the syrup.  In a medium sauce pan over high heat, stir 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar together until the sugar dissolves.  Then add 1/2 cup of honey and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and stir to combine.  Then drop 1 cinnamon stick into the mixture.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium low heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  Then remove from heat and set aside to cool.


When you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the syrup over the baklava.  Let it sit for at least an hour uncovered before serving.



1 package phyllo dough

1 1/2 sticks of butter/margarine

3 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (or combination of both)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp sugar


1 cup water

1 cup sugar

1 /2 cup honey

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cinnamon stick

1.  Thaw phyllo dough according to the package instructions.

2.  Once thawed, preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

3.  In a medium bowl, stir the chopped nuts, ground cinnamon, cloves and sugar together until combined.

4.  Place 2 phyllo sheets in the 9 x 13 pan.  Then use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter/margarine on the phyllo dough.  Sprinkle the nut mixture over the butter phyllo sheet.  Repeat until all of the nut mixture is used.  Then continue to layer 2 sheets of phyllo at a time and brush with the melted butter/margarine.  Once all of the phyllo sheets are used, brush the melted butter on the top layer of phyllo.

5.  Using a sharp knife, cut diagonally across layers of phyllo until you have bite sized diamond shape baklava.

6.  Bake at 350 degrees for 32 -36 minutes or until golden brown.

7.  While the baklava is baking, start on the syrup.

8.  Over high heat, stir 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar together in a medium sauce pan.  Stir until the sugar dissolved.  Then stir in the honey, lemon juice and cinnamon stick.  Bring to a bowl.  Then stir and reduce the heat to medium low.  Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

9.  When you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the syrup over the baklava and let it sit uncovered for at least an hour before serving.


Our St. Augustine Vacation Continued


SA morning walk1

The first full day of our vacation was a beach day.  I woke up around 7:30 that morning, got dressed and took Izzy for a morning walk on the beach.  It was such a gorgeous morning.  I couldn’t get over all of the people walking on the beach that early in the day.

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After our delicious breakfast at the bed and breakfast, we changed into our swimsuits and hit the beach.  It was a perfect beach day!

SA me and Izzy

After a great day on the beach, Luke and I got ready to dinner and spent some time with Izzy.

SA ghost bus

After dinner, we went on the trolley ghost tour.

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Luke and me on the trolley.

SA jail

The old jail which is supposedly the most haunted place in St. Augustine.

SA fort

The next day we toured the Castillo de San Marcos.

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SA me fort

SA downtown

After touring the fort, we walked around downtown St. Augustine and ate lunch at a British pub.  I have to say it was extremely hot walking around that day but it was worth it because we didn’t want to miss anything.  Plus, we knew we could cool off at the beach later that afternoon.

SA oldest school

This old wood school house is right in the middle of downtown St. Augustine which was so unexpected.  We were walking around looking at all of the neat little shops and then there stood the old wood school right in the middle of all of it.

SA gates

This is the Old City Gates of St. Augustine.

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SA lunch pub

This is the Bull & Crown pub where we ate lunch.

SA OCWhites house

After spending the rest of our afternoon on the beach, Luke and I ate dinner at O.C. Whites.

SA OCWhites

O.C. Whites’ food is absolutely incredible and as you can see by our plates, they give you plenty of food!

SA last night

After our heavenly dinner, we walked around downtown St. Augustine one last time.

SA Flaggler

This is part of Flagler College.  It is a beautiful college and it’s located in such a beautiful place (downtown St. Augustine).  I envy the people who were lucky enough to attend college here.

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After walking around downtown for an hour or so, we went back to the bed and breakfast and took Izzy for a walk on the beach.  The next day we drove back home and back to reality.

Our St. Augustine vacation was wonderful!  If you haven’t ever been to St. Augustine, I highly recommend you visit it at some point.  It truly is a beautiful place with so many fun and interesting things to do.

Hot Dog Pockets

With it being football season a bunch of my weekend post are going to be for some tailgating or partying ideas.  I was not doing much partying this weekend as my Dawgs were off and my fantasy football teams both lost.   Hopefully this weekend will be much better.

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Hot dogs are one of my favorite things to eat when I am in a hurry.  Lets just say I think I could eat hot dogs 5 days a week.  I recently had some pigs in a blanket but they just didn’t taste the way I remembered so I decided I needed to make them a new way.  I used a can of crescent rolls and rolled the hot dogs up to make little hot dog pockets and these things were fantastic.

pig in blanket

To make the Hot Dog Pockets, you start by cooking the hot dogs.  While they cook get the can of crescent rolls and lay them out on a clean surface.  Preheat the oven at 375 degrees.  Once the hot dogs are cooked, cut the hot dogs in half.  Then put each half on each of the crescent roll triangles.  Then add whatever you like on your hot dog or pig in a blanket.  You can add sauteed onions, ketchup, mustard, etc.  I added a small slice of cheddar cheese and rolled the crescent up around the hot dog and cheese and pressed the dough to seal all the edges.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 -14 minutes.

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Hot Dog Pockets:

Servings:  8 individual hot dog pockets

4 hot dogs

1 can of Pillsbury crescent rolls

sliced cheddar cheese

Preheat to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Cook hot dogs according to package directions.  Roll the crescent rolls out onto a clean surface.  Tear the triangles apart.  Cut cooked hot dogs in half.  Place each half onto a crescent triangle along with a piece of sliced cheddar cheese.  Roll the dough around the hot dog and cheese and seal the edges.  Place the hot dog pockets on the greased baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 12 – 14 minutes.

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Enjoy!  Have a great weekend!

Chocolate Muffins

Delicious chocolate muffins with lots of chocolate chips for extra chocolate goodness!

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A couple of weeks ago, I made some homemade pumpkin muffins for breakfast.  Luke isn’t a pumpkin fan so needless to say, he didn’t like the pumpkin muffins.  I thought they were good but they weren’t out of this world delicious…yet but I’m working on it.  Since I haven’t quite perfected them, I’ll keep that recipe to myself until I get it right.  Once I have the recipe exactly the way I want it, I’ll share it with you.  In the meantime, I have a delicious chocolate muffin recipe for you!

Since the pumpkin muffins were for me, I decided I’d make some muffins for Luke.  As I’ve mentioned before, Luke is a chocoholic so I knew whatever I came up with had to be chocolate.  So I made a chocolate muffin with Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips and Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.

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This recipe couldn’t get much easier.  You just whisk the ingredients together and then stir the chocolate chips into the batter.  Then spoon the batter into greased muffin liners and topped each muffin with extra chocolate chips.

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Since Luke prefers dark chocolate, I topped each muffin with a few extra dark chocolate chips.  If you prefer semi-sweet chocolate, you can top each one with extra semi-sweet chocolate chips or even milk chocolate chips.  Just make them according to what you prefer.  Whatever chocolate chip you use, it’ll be delicious because it’s chocolate.  You can’t go wrong with chocolate!

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Chocolate Muffins

Servings:  16 – 18 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp butter/margarine, melted

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 1/4 cups milk

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place muffin liners into muffin tin and spray the liners with cooking spray.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder until combined.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, brown sugar, melted butter and beaten eggs until combined.

4.  Gradually add the flour mixture, milk and canola oil to the sugar mixture and continue whisking.  Once combined, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.  Then stir 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter.

5.  Using an ice cream scoop, pour the batter into the greased muffin liners.  Then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips on top of each muffin.  Bake at 350 degrees for 16 – 20 minutes.

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Our St. Augustine Vacation

SA sign

Last week Luke and I went to St. Augustine, Florida for our vacation.  We hadn’t been on vacation in over 2 years so we really needed this.  Instead of taking a vacation last year, we had our house built and anyone who has ever built a house before knows how much time and energy goes into that so a vacation was not an option last year.

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sa downtown first night

St. Augustine is beautiful and so full of history.  Luke and I loved everything about it.

SA beach

We stayed at a bed and breakfast on Anastasia Island St. Augustine Beach.  It was only a 5 mile drive from the bed and breakfast to downtown St. Augustine.

SA bb

We stayed at the House of Sea and Sun which is on the beach and its pet-friendly so we took Izzy with us.  The bed and breakfast was ideal and we adored the owner, Patty.  She made us feel right at home and like we were part of the family.  I can’t imagine staying anywhere else because the House of Sea and Sun offered everything we were looking for.

SA doggies

This is one of Patty’s 3 rescue dogs.  This is Antoinette.  She is so cute and she knows it.  She uses her sweet face and adorable personality to get the guests to share their breakfast with her every morning.  This picture actually doesn’t do Antoinette justice.  She’s so much cuter in person.

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The House of Sea and Sun from the beach.

I prefer to stay at bed and breakfasts or inns rather than a hotel.  Bed and breakfast or inns are more comfortable and so much cleaner than a hotel.  Plus, a bed and breakfast or inn is more inviting and hospitable.  The staff and owner(s) greet you by name and they want to get to know you, your likes and/or dislikes and they want to make you to be as comfortable as if you’re in your own home.

SA bb our room

SA bb our room too

This was our room which was called Los Vientos.

SA bb view

This was the view from our room…gorgeous!

When Luke and I are on vacation, we relax a little and explore the location a lot.  We usually need a few days to recover after our vacations because we come home exhausted but it’s so worth it.  We never want to look back at our vacations and think about all of the things we could have done but didn’t because we just wanted to relax and lay around.

SA lighthouse

As soon as we checked into the bed and breakfast and got Izzy settled, we went to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and climbed the 219 stairs to the top.  Oh my goodness, that view was absolutely incredible.  I didn’t want to leave the top of the lighthouse because it was just so beautiful.  If you ever visit St. Augustine, the lighthouse is a must-see!

sa keepers house

This was the lighthouse keeper’s house.

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The stairs as you walk inside the lighthouse.

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Looking up at the stairs from the main level.

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The view from the top of the lighthouse.

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The view of the keeper’s house from the top of the lighthouse.

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The lighthouse at night.

Once we left the lighthouse, we went back to the bed and breakfast and got Izzy and took her for a walk on the beach.  She had never been to a beach before so she was fascinated.  She loved chasing all of the birds and walking in the sand.  She also liked the water as long as the waves only covered her paws.  She wasn’t a fan of the waves crashing on her any higher than that.  Overall, I’d say Izzy is a beach doggie.

SA Izzy beach

After spending about 20 minutes on the beach, we walked back up to the bed and breakfast and got ready for dinner.  The first night we ate at a restaurant called Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille.  The food and atmosphere is absolutely incredible.  Luke wanted to go back and eat there again the next night but I felt like we needed to try another restaurant since we were only in St. Augustine for a few days.

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Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille.

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The outside eating area which is where we ate.

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SA draw bridge

After dinner, we walked around downtown St. Augustine and saw the Bridge of Lions drawbridge rise for a boat.

SA first night

I think I’ve shared enough about our vacation for one day but I have more pictures to share later this week. :)

Simply Gloria