So the week leading up to our week-long vacation in Avalon, NJ was quite hectic to say the least. Toph had a crazy, busy work schedule and I had my regular web orders, PLUS a large order for the local hospital's ribbon cutting ceremony. Here are the test cookies I made for the Mt. Nittany Medical Center. I never took pictures of the final cookies because things were too hectic. But these are basically the same.


Not to mention, I donated trout cookies for the Bellefonte Chamber meeting...


And, I tackled a Luigi cookie. I'm not a huge fan of character cookies because there isn't any room for error. Customers rightfully expect them to resemble the character. I always debate on whether or not to do these orders and this time, since it was a smaller order, I agreed. 


So by the end of the week, I was pooped. Super pooped. Of course, I still needed to pack everything for vacation too. Since we were staying in a house, I also need to pack our groceries, linens, etc. Busy Busy.

Thankfully, the packing went well and we had our car loaded up with everything we needed...including my favorite coffee mug, my Contigo. Love that thing! It was a surprise from Topher. He must really love me cause that's the best darn mug in the WORLD. 


So we were off, off to the airport to pick up my big brother in Philadelphia and then to Avalon.

The ride went well thanks to the portable DVD player. I always said I would never use one of those, but for a long car ride, it was a good idea. Our trip included a reststop at Farley's (which is no longer just the fresh veggie/fruit stand from my childhood. It now has a starbucks! What?!?!)  

We arrived Saturday evening and had enough time to unpack the car and make the beds before a delicious grilled chicken dinner made by my brother-in-law. And from that moment on, although we had a full week at the beach, the time seemed to zoom by. And by zoom, I mean that I think it all happened in the blink of an eye. Here are a few highlights from the week...

All week long the food was GREAT! We all took turns cooking. Topher and I hosted a 'Build Your Own AWESOME Burger' Night. We grilled beef, turkey and veggie burgers. Then we offered the following burger toppings: avocado, sauteed onions, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, onion, spicy mustard, ketchup, and two kinds of cheese. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmmm. Best burger I've had in a long time. Our second night of cooking we put pork in the crockpot before heading to the beach in the morning. It slow-cooked all day, and by evening we had the juiciest and most flavorful BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. I roasted cauliflower (olive oil and salt) at 375 in the oven for 25-30 minutes until brown. It was so good - it's really my new favorite side dish. And Toph grilled zucchini. Yum.

But the funniest night of dinner was the sausage/meatball sandwich night hosted by my brother-in-law. Most of us chose one or the other. But not Toph. Nope. He went for the gusto and made this guy (and ate it too!). Wow. It's a sausball sandwich, no a meatage sandwich. Oh whatever. It's just crazy.


Most of our days were the same...relaxing, sunny, and enjoyable. Here is our annual picture with the Avalon lifeguard boat. In the back, I'm on the left, my sister in the middle and my brother on the right. Those are my sister's kids and my little girl in front!


My little girl LOVED the beach...just like me and just like her Nana!! We spent quite a bit of time at the beach building castles...


and jumping and riding waves. 


My sister and I did a lot of walking. One morning I walked all the way to Stone Harbor (8 miles round trip). I did it just to prove I could. It was fun too. I had a good Pandora mix that morning!


We had a night out or two. I don't think we are going to be welcome back at the Windrift anytime soon, but boy was that a fun night that ended with a bang! Great band and lots of cougars (and by lots - I mean like 200 women wearing loads of perfume. Seriously, you could taste it in the air. Those cougars love to boogie!)

There was also lots of time for crafts!!

We made tie-dye shirts. Here we are working on my niece's shirt.


This is my cute nephew. Do you like the trash bag smock? Thanks, Uncle Topher!


And then a few days later...the finished product...


We made sand art. 


Each kid made two projects and we still had leftover sand! Totally fun! (By the way, my sister got the girls matching outfits! So cute!!)


There was also a bead project, but I didn't get pictures. Bummer. : (

While my little girl napped in the afternoon, I played cards with my niece and nephew. My nephew kicked my butt playing Go Fish and WAR! I also read a new book, The Apple Turnover Murder by JoAnn Fluke. It can be purchased on most book sites, including Amazon.com. 


It's a great beach read. I had read most of the others in the series, and the recipes in this particular book seemed delicious...especially the sausage and cheese pancakes and the breakfast muffins!!

Avalon is a fantastic family beach town. Not much of a boardwalk, in other words - no carnival rides :) I am not a fan of rides or carnival food. There are a few cute shops, bakeries, and restaurants. We found a reason to visit Hoy's everyday (the general store). 

We also made it to our favorite place, PK McCool's several times. Avalon's motto is 'Cooler by a Mile'. So PK's motto is 'McCooler by a Mile'. My mom's initials are PK...so now we call her PK McCool. She loves it. At PK's they handmake much of the items on the menu, including their great scones served with homemade lemon curd. Yum! It's to die for! I want to make my own...and in case you do too, click here for a great recipe from the Joy of Baking.


I should also mention that PK McCools is home of the best french toast Topher has ever eaten...it's almond crusted! This plate was clean in minutes! 


But the best part of the vacation, or maybe I should say funniest part, was the discovery my nephew made Tuesday evening. He was playing in the backyard of the house when he noticed SEVEN HUGE WHITE SKUNKS walking out from under the neighbors shed. I am not joking when I say these things were the size of small dogs! They were actually really pretty, but since we were afraid of getting sprayed, we stayed off the lower deck after 8pm. Our house had a second floor deck that was perfect for late-night card games and a beer. The joke of the week was us yelling 'SKUNK!!' just like Chevy Chase yelled 'SQUIRREL!!' in the Christmas Vacation movie. I really have never seen anything like it!!


Did I mention they were the size of small dogs? It's true. Surprisingly, we never smelled a thing the entire week. What a relief. I warned everyone riding in our car that a spray from the skunk would land them a ticket on the roof rack. Good thing no one was sprayed!

So that's my vacation in a nutshell. Thank you again to all my customers that waited patiently to place orders upon my return! You are the best! Now that I'm rested and refreshed, I am totally happy baking up a storm!

Have a sweet day,

Anne