Family, Foley, Gulf Shores, restaurant, vacation

How crowded is Gulf Shores? Just visit Chick-fil-A for breakfast to find out

Living in Foley the neighboring city to the north of Gulf Shores and 14 miles from the beautiful white sand beaches has taught me some things over the last year. Being a “local” and learning to gauge the tourists and visitor activity is one of those senses you learn to develop. As well as learning other “local” tips for managing day-to-day life in an area that attracts millions of visitors each year.

  1. Learn the “back roads and shortcuts”. Highway 59 can become a bog of cars with all the influx on the busy days and weeks of the year. The Beach Expressway also can be quite congested depending on the time and day of the week. We quickly learned about the two lane road’s that run parallel to Highway 59. One will even bypass all of Foley and drop you at the beginning of Gulf Shores.
  2. Stay away from the center and south end of Foley on tourist days. Fortunately we bought a new home on the North end of Foley and both of us work about 2 miles from home. So we can avoid the overcrowded and congested areas of Foley to get to work and lunch.

So the question is….”How crowded is Gulf Shores and the surrounding area?”

What barometer can we use to know what the tourist climate is like each day? See with Sports Tournaments, vacations, spring breaks, and the other countless reasons we all flock to the Lower Alabama hot spots, each day is different. One day can be slow and laid back and the next BOOM chaos and back-ups!

The answer is surprisingly CHICK-FIL-A. Chick-fil-A is the gauge we use to monitor the tourist activity in Foley and Gulf Shores. Ranae and I eat breakfast together almost everyday and choose Chick-fil-A as our spot. Apparently most people who travel choose to “Eat Mor Chikin” as well. However busy the restaurant and particularly the drive-thru is helps us to plan and determine what routes to use and areas to avoid for the coming day.

  • Monday and people are rolling into the Chick-fil-A then they are leaving and things should be clearing up throughout the week.
  • Thursday or Friday and things are hopping at the Chick-fil-A and look out for a packed weekend at those wide sandy beaches.

By the way Chick-fil-A in Foley is an absolute great place to stop and eat anytime of the day. Never can get enough Chicken and of course waffle fries. Great service and always exceeds our expectations!

So join the crowds or the “locals” and just visit a nearby Chick-fil-A to see how busy your town will be for the coming day or days.

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When you visit Gulf Shores stop by Foley Chick-fil-A for breakfast and be sure to say “HI”


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Family, restaurant, vacation

To Cook or Not to Cook While on Vacation

So you’ve rented your vacation home and it comes with a fully equipped kitchen. Then the dilemma starts. Should we eat in and cook all our own meals? Or should we eat out and discovery the local restaurants? There is no correct answer to these questions because every family is different. But I can share some experiences I’ve had while traveling with just my husband and also with the whole family.

If you’re traveling with your family you need to consider the cost of eating out. After ordering an appetizer, individual entrees, a few drinks and desserts, at the end of the dinner you may be looking at a tab of over $100 for a family of four. Seven days of eating like this really adds up. I do think it’s important to try a few local restaurants during your stay. Afterall, you’d be crazy not to try the fresh seafood while visiting the Gulf Coast at some point on your visit. There have been trips I’ve taken with just my husband when we ate out every meal. Those are the vacations when I truly want to relax and not worry with the cooking and clean up.

When we have rented vacation homes or condos with a fully equipped kitchen, I do try to take advantage of this as much as possible.

  • Plan your meals well in advance before leaving for your trip. MAKE  LISTS!!!! You’ll need two separate lists. One list will be the dishes and the recipes that go with them. The second list will be your grocery list. I always try to take as much of the dried food with me from home. For example, if I’m making chili I know that the recipe calls for canned tomatoes and chili beans. If these are items that I already have on hand, I pack them up and take them with us. If there’s a recipe that will call for a cup of flour, I’ll go ahead and measure that out into a plastic sandwich bag and bring it from home. That way I’m not buying a 5 pound bag of flour while on my trip just to use 1 cup of it. I also may shop at my hometown market before the trip to gather all the other dry items I may use in the condo. This helps cut down on the time spent grocery shopping on my vacation.
  • I use my second grocery list for the market nearest my vacation home. On this list I have all my cold, frozen and fresh products.
  • There are food markets that offer grocery pick up or delivery to your condo. I know the Wal-Mart in Gulf Shores, Alabama offers the grocery pick up. If you are able to arrange a pick up plan with them, that’s one less thing you have to worry about when you arrive to your vacation town. Let them do the shopping for you. And it’s a free service. Do your research on these markets before you leave your home. This could pay off and save you lots of time.
  • We typically always eat breakfast in our condo everyday. There are those mornings we wake up to bacon, eggs and pancakes. On days that we need to leave the condo to head out to our activities quickly, it’s usually a cereal or Eggo day. By eating breakfast in the condo  you’ve saved between $30-$40 per day.
  • Lunches in our condos are usually sandwiches and chips. Peanut butter works great too. The best part of staying in a beach condo is that you can take your lunch with you to the beach and have a picnic right on the sand. Eating lunch from your condo will save you $50-$60 per day.
  • Dinner time!!!!  I just got one word that makes all the difference when planning meals on your vacation. CROCK POT!!!!!!!!!  Honestly, I’ve never stayed in a vacation home or condo that provided a crock pot for us. I’ve always brought mine from home. It’s the best thing. I can throw in our dinner in the morning after breakfast, turn it on low and allow it to cook the entire day. I’ve made beef pot roast and potatoes, lasagna, taco soup, French dip sandwiches and cube steak, just to name a few. Then we typically have enough leftovers for lunches the next day. Clean up with the crockpot is easy too. Most of them allow the stoneware to be removed and can be placed in the dishwasher. Voila!!! Clean up is done. By choosing to dine in for dinner, you’ve saved over $100 per day.
  • Snacks!!  Keep fresh fruit handy for snacking. Or if you are craving a little something sweet, refrigerated cookie dough is your friend. All you have to do is pop them out on a cookie pan, bake as directed on the package. And you have fresh-baked cookies. When your family smells those cooking baking, you’ll be their hero for sure.

Have fun and plan for as much or little cooking as you want to take on while on Vacation. A good mix of eating in and exploring the local top restaurants works best for our trips. Always find and try something new and enjoy the local favorites.

Comment any thoughts and suggestion!

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What did you say? Over 60 Expression’s and local phrases heard in Gulf Shores

 Gulf Shores vacation condo Website

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Every part of our wonderful country has its own unique words, phrase’s, and sayings. Since moving to Foley, Alabama last year I can’t tell you how many times I have asked someone to repeat what they just said. Expand your vocabulary and here is a compilation dictionary of local phrases.

When you visit Gulf Shores on vacation here is a list of things you might hear around the area.

Animal references in our southern slang.

  1. Grinning like a mule eating corn. You might say LOL or laughing out load.
  2. Having a duck fit. Compare to having a hissy fit.
  3. It’s hotter than Satan’s house cat
  4. A frog strangler. It is raining and pouring. Heavy rain
  5. It’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs. The tress welcome any liquid
  6. Cold as a frosted frog
  7. It rained like a cow peeing on a flat rock. Raining so hard you hear it hitting the ground
  8. Nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
  9. I’m feeling as low as a toad in a dry well
  10. I’m finer than frog hair. I feel pretty good
  11. Well, ain’t he just the tom-cat’s kitten? He’s a flirt
  12. You’re lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut
  13. She’s busier than a cat covering crap on a marble floor
  14. I’m as busy as a one-legged cat in a sandbox

Southern Phrases.

  1. Well I swan/swanny. Oh my gosh is southern
  2. What would your mama think. Compare with I can’t believe you did that
  3. That’s a real knee slapper. Rolling on the floor laughing reaction
  4. I surely appreciate it. Definition- Thanks.
  5. Don’t make me cut a switch. Stop what you are doing or else. A switch is a long flexible branch cut from a bush to administer corporal punishment to a child. Even up north in Indiana I used to have to go get my own switch for mom to punish me.
  6. Yankee. Anyone not from here it seems. I first was called a Yankee when I arrived here. I am from Southern Indiana just seven miles from Kentucky. In my opinion no where’s near a Yankee.
  7. Mama always said. Watch The Waterboy with Adam Sandler for more on this phrase. Basically means in my opinion.
  8. Bless your heart. Nice phrase added usually after insulting someone in some way. “He is not the cutest boy, bless his heart!”
  9. Bye, y,all. See you later.
  10. That just dills my pickle. Same as that just makes me mad!
  11. That just jars my preserves. See previous phrase
  12. That dog won’t hunt. That idea or thought won’t work
  13. Sick as a dawg
  14. I’d have to feel better to die
  15. Is your daddy a window maker? Move out from in front of the TV.
  16. Slap-yo’-mama good. That was delicious
  17. It happened faster than a knife fight in a phone booth.
  18. He’s so clumsy he’d trip over a cordless phone.
  19. He’s about as handy as a back pocket on a shirt.
  20. I feel like the last pea at pea-time. Sad or lonely
  21. He’d have to stand up twice to cast a shadow. Very skinny person
  22. The law. The police
  23. She is having a hissy fit with a tail on it
  24. He squeezes a quarter so tight the eagle screams
  25. He’s so stuck up, he’d drown on a rainstorm
  26. Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash
  27. He’s as lost as last year’s Easter egg
  28. Yankees are like hemorrhoids: Pain in the rear when they come down and always a relief when they go back up.
  29. You’re lyin’ like a no-legged dog!
  30. Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit
  31. He smelled bad enough to gag a maggot
  32. Faster than green grass through a goose
  33. He fell out of an ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down
  34. He’s so rich he buys a new boat when the old one gets wet
  35. That rain was a real frogwash
  36. White as cotton. Up north we use white as snow when someone is shocked or terrified.

Weather Phrases

  1. It’s hot as all get-out
  2. It’s coming up a storm. Which it does randomly and briefly most days
  3. Hotter than the devil’s armpit
  4. It’s so cold I saw a politician with his hands in his own pockets
  5. It’s like getting punched in the face by a sauna. High humidity
  6. The devil is beating his wife. Rain while the sun is shining
  7. It’s egg frying hot
  8. I’m burning slap up
  9. It’s hotter than a two dollar pistol
  10. Its hotter’n a blister bug in a pepper patch

Southern cursing

  1. Son of a motherless goat
  2. What in sam hill
  3. Dagnabbit
  4. I’ll be dogged
  5. Mother of pearl
  6. Oh, H-E double-toothpicks
  7. Heavens to Betsy
  8. Dadgummit
  9. Son of a biscuit eater
  10. Well, tarnation
  11. I swan
  12. I declare
  13. Good gravy

Compiled from all over the world-wide web!

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Gulf Shores vacation condo Website

Family, vacation

How to keep from half killin’ your kids while traveling.

Traveling with family should be one of life’s greatest joys. Take as many trips as possible with your family because those are the memories they’ll always have. Leading up to the day that you leave for your trip is so exciting as you collect your snacks and road games and map out your route. Everyone piles into the car and then you get 15 minutes into a 10 hour drive, then the dreaded question from the back seat blurts out. “ARE WE THERE YET????” And who can blame them? They are as excited as you are to reach their destination.

Here are some things I have learned from traveling with our three daughters and now two grandkids through the years.

  • What time should you leave for your long journey? This question can be an important one. Will the kids do better on the road during the daylight hours or is it better to travel overnight while they are sleeping? The best answer to this question depends on your particular family and their needs. Another factor is you may have to reach your destination at a certain time. Overnight traveling is convenient when the kiddos are very young and for those kids who fall asleep easily in the car. However for the driver this can be very exhausting. It’s also a good idea to have someone stay awake with you to keep you from dozing off. Staying up later than usual or driving overnight can take a toll on you. Sure you get to your destination a half day sooner, but then you’ll have to take a nap when you get there, while your kids are raring to go. We seemed to have better trips during the daytime hours. We would get up early and hit the road first thing. Eating breakfast at home before you leave is up to you. We always stopped about an hour into our trip to grab some breakfast because that was one thing they looked forward to.
  • Make frequent stops. It’s ok to stop every hour and a half to 2 hours. Whether you’ve stopped at a gas station or at a rest stop, make the break an enjoyable one. Take a short walk around the rest area. Go to a souvenir shop on the side of the road and take in the local items. One time at one rest area, they had a gentleman there who was dressed like a pioneer man and he was making pottery. We stood there for half an hour with our granddaughter just watching him and listening to his stories. This is what we call “local flavor.” When you’re able to take in all that the area has to offer.  The excitement about road trips is that there is always something to stop and see. Go ahead and pull off the interstate and drive 15 miles out of your way to see the largest ball of twine. It’s ok to be random. This is what your kids will remember the most. Take time to smell the roses as they say.
  • After every stop, pull out a “surprise” for each of the kids. Part of my pre-vacation planning fun is to collect silly, cheap toys, books or gadgets. This certainly keeps things interesting and the kids are pleasantly surprised and entertained at the same time. This goodie bag technique works so well, that our daughter does this for her children.
  • Snacks. Oh yummy. Why is it that traveling makes you hungry? Packing snacks is a fun thing. It’s best to pack fruits, veggies, and nuts. Stay away from sweets, salty chips and sugar based sodas. Fill a small cooler with water bottles.
  • Picnic. Who doesn’t love a picnic? Having a picnic lunch at a rest stop or park can be exciting to a kid. Pack a plastic table cover, paper towels, loaf of bread, deli turkey meat and cheese and you have yourself a picnic. You can also bring along a jar of peanut butter. Just don’t forget the plastic knife.
  • Games. I LOVE ROAD GAMES!!!!!!!!!!!  My favorite one is the ABC game. Someone calls out a topic (ie. cereals or animals just to name a few). The first person starts with the letter “A” and has to name something from the topic that begins with that letter. Then the next player’s letter is “B” and has to name something in the same topic for that letter. You keep going until someone stumbles then they’re out. Of course you can set your own rules and topics.
  • Pictures. For the older kids. Bring a small camera just for them to document their road trip. They could play a game to see who can take the most pics of a certain tree or different license plates.
  • Shoes. I let my kids wear flip-flops while traveling because they like to kick them off in the car. However, I have them keep their sneakers in a handy spot. This way when we feel like pulling over to the beautiful state park that offers a 15 minute hike to a water fall, their shoes are ready to go and they don’t have to pull out the packed luggage to dig around for them.
  • Overnight Bag for longer trips. Sometimes during travel it becomes necessary to stop overnight at a roadside hotel or inn. For this reason I recommend that you pack a small separate overnight bag with all your necessities that you’ll need just for that night. It’s ok to pack everyone’s items in this one smaller bag. This way you don’t have to unload the entire car just for the one night.
  • Luggage space in the car. Does your vacation home offer a washer and dryer in the unit? If so, this is a wonderful benefit to you! You can wash your clothing every few days which means you can pack lighter. This saves you space in your car. Also remember the luggage “grows” during the vacation. Dirty laundry, souvenirs, and other items just don’t go back in the suitcase the same as it did at home.

Never let the kids be an excuse to not travel and experience the world around you. The fact is your children should be the main reason why you travel.

Show them the world through others eyes and help them to grow and expand their minds and appreciation of all that this wonderful world of ours offers!

They will bring up memories of these trips for decades to come and the journeys (good or bad) will mold the character of who they are.

Comment and Share your tips and suggestions.


Fort Morgan Alabama, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, vacation

What should I look for in a Vacation rental?

Vacation rentals have flooded the market in recent years and your choices are practically endless when it comes to selecting one. So what should you be considering when comparing properties and making a final decision.

  1. Take your time and do your homework. I know I always try to plan a year in advance and make sure I am choosing the right place for the family. Don’t get caught up in the Vacation excitement and make a rushed spontaneous decision.
  2. Be critical! Things rarely look better in person than they do in the photos. Ever met someone in person you had only seen in photos on Facebook? Ever said they sure look different in person. Well the photos that Vacation rentals post are their “best foot forward”. Look at the photos throughly.
    1. If the posting has more photos of the surroundings than of the interior and living areas then I wonder what they are hiding. I can find pictures of the beach and mountains on Google. Show me what the living space, beds, kitchen, and bathrooms look like where I am spending my hard-earned money to stay at over vacation.
    2. Look for what is missing. Our minds have a way of filling in information that is actually missingWas there a washer and dryer? Did you see kitchen appliances like a crock pot to cook meals in while you are out enjoying the sights? Was there counter space to be able to prepare a meal or two to save cost?
    3. Look at the scale of things. If the sofa takes up the entire length of the Living space and even sticks under the counter bar then maybe the living space is a little bit cramped. If the pillow barely fits across the bunk bed then it could be a tad narrow and small. Is that a Queen bed in the Master bedroom?

Narrow your list down to a few options and then drill down even further.

  1. Look at the comfort and amenities with your choices
    1. Bedrooms and sleeping spaces. Look closely at the sizes and quality of the beds. Unlike other items in the rental the beds are used EVERYDAY and for the most about of time! Vacation is about rest and relaxation and how can you enjoy yourself when you can’t sleep well.
      1. What size bed is in the Master bedroom? There is a big difference between a King and a Queen bed.
      2. What size are the bunk beds? I have seen a lot of rental units with bunk beds built into an old closet and they are very narrow and not long enough to be comfortable. In fact they are basically unsafe and dangerous. Again look at the scale of things. Look at the pictures and if the pillow barely fits across the bunk bed that seems like a small bed. Try to visualize the bunk along the wall at the head or foot and see if you can gauge the width that way.
      3. Is it a true twin or full size bunk bed?
      4. How safe does it look?
      5. Does it even have a railing or ladder?
      6. What is the quality of the mattress or bedding? Especially on the Bunk Beds where some people will cut bulk foam and say that is a mattress. Others will use RV or Baby Bed Mattresses as substitutes because of the bunk being that odd size “converted closet bunk”queen-bed-and-no-room-at-the-inn bunks-so-narrow-pillow-barely-fitsBunks-with-foam-mattressprison-bunks-no-railing
        1. Kitchen.  The biggest reason to rent a condo or home versus a hotel is the cooking space.
          1.  Do you have the counter space to cook and prepare meals to save on meal costs? We always like to eat one meal at the rental and one from local restaurant each day with snacks in between.
          2. Do you have the necessary appliances? A crock pot is nice to have. It does the work for you while you are out enjoying the sights and adventures of vacation and is ready when you come home. Just don’t forget to plug it on and turn it on!
          3. Can you fit a pot on the stove top? Some units I have seen barely have enough room under the above stove microwave to fit a pot to cook with.
          4. How many burners do you have on the stove and how big is the oven? Some ovens and stoves are so narrow you can’t fit anything into them.
          5. Does the kitchen size and equipment match the occupancy number?cramped-small-kitchen-no-stove-top-room
        2. Dining space. Once you cook the meal everyone one needs a place to eat it.
          1. Are there at least as many dining chairs as members of your family? Pretty simple to count and see. It is hard enough to get the modern family to sit down for 5 minutes together anymore, but especially difficult if you do not have the seating.
        3. Living space. You see sometimes it just rains. If the family is stuck in the rental can you all comfortable coexist?
          1. Is the living space open enough for us all to fit? Look again at that couch size in comparison to the room for an idea of scale. Also use the tiles in the floor to count and gauge feet in space. Floor tiles are either 12 or 18 inches square as a rule.
          2. Are there separate areas that family members can spread out? Well sometimes you just need a little space too.
            1. Is there an outdoor patio/balcony space you can enjoy no matter the weather?
            2. Is there a desk for child to sit at and color? small-living-space
        4. Technology and TV’s. Those sports teams keep playing and those reality tv shows continue in spite of your Vacation schedule.
          1. Are there smart TV’s? That way you can use your Premium subscription services just like at home. HULU , Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. Watch out for the old school tube television!
          2. What are the size’s and location’s of the TV’s? A lot of rental owners think putting a small TV in the upper corner of the room is a good idea. It is awful! Can you imagine a week of straining your eyes, back, and neck to watch that? I hope they give you a FREE chiropractor visit to get realigned! Look for large TV’s mounted close to eye level so you are not awkwardly positioned to watch it.
          3. Is my check in process electronic and is there keyless entry? Being able to check in anytime 24 hours a day is nice because the unexpected can happen. Delays in arrival are common and having to meet someone and be given a key can be frustrating. Modern rental units have some form of electronic access and check in. Also with keyless entry you do not have to keep up with a physical key and everyone in the family can come and go at their desire. tv-just-a-little-awkward-to-watch-free-chiropractor-after-vacation-compressor
        5. Balconies and patios. Who doesn’t like to lounge on the balcony reading a good book or drinking your coffee listening to the waves crash. Too many Vacation rental balconies are just too small to even use!
          1. How large is the Balcony/Patio? Most seem to be very small, barely able to fit two people. This is one of those additional areas for your family to spread out and enjoy some time alone or together.
          2. Can you all fit and is there seating for everyone?
          3. What type of furniture is there? I see a lot of cheap flimsy plastic dollar store junk! Why can’t there be a nice lounger sectional on a roomy oversized balcony retreat to enjoy? no-room-balcony-and-cheap-plastic-chairsmall-two-person-balcony
        6. Washer and Dryer. You can pack lighter when you have a washer and dryer conveniently in your rental.
          1. Is there a washer and dryer in the unit? Don’t assume and let your brain fill in information that is not there.
          2. Is it full size or stackable? Who WANTS to do laundry on Vacation, but at least with a full size unit you can do it LESS often on Vacation.
        7. The furnishings. So many rentals look like they are furnished with the owners left overs. They look like Yard sale finds picked randomly to go together. Who wants to pay to stay in someone elses “Junk Drawer”? uncomfortable-furniture

Take your time and compare! You will find the dream rental that is perfect for your Family! Happy hunting and have a Great Vacation!

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