Fun Fluff

I’ve got a great condiment recipe to share (not my recipe), some safe vacation ideas, a good cause, and a rant. Enjoy.

Hello!

I got a job as a census worker way back when the census was supposed to happen. I thought this would be a good way to mix things up and bring in a little extra income. But just as with many jobs these days, I have no idea what to expect. When is it gonna actually start? What kinds of modifications will they have made for the pandemic? I got a few days notice that I was supposed to go in for two hours of in-person training on Wednesday, but then that got cancelled Tuesday night. And then today I was informed that it was rescheduled for this Saturday, which I can’t make. So now I’m on a reschedule list, waiting to hear back.

But this looks pretty awesome.

And also this recipe is awesome and I’m sharing it because it took us forever to find it again. The trick is that it’s not the featured recipe on this page, it’s the one that’s waaaaaay at the bottom with the picture in the little blue pot.

Leave it to IKEA to solve our vacation woes.

I love that the City of Raleigh set this up.

Have a lovely weekend,

Diana

Fun Fluff

Feeling at home at the Mulberry House with a fancy new shower curtain. Fancy appliances, really big kitchen wares, and bad TV.

Hello!

I packed a suitcase and moved into the Mulberry House for the next few days. It feels like fancy, air conditioned camping. And I bought this shower curtain since I’m allowed to have cute things. According to my niece, everything at Target is “so cute!”

I love these DIY fake antique appliances.

I found some inspiration for more North Carolina day trips. The oldest big coffee pot in the United States is definitely destination worthy!

And when I’m feeling a little lazier, there’s a new season of Shameless for me to watch on Netflix.

Have a lovely weekend,

Diana

A day trip to Wilson, NC

I couldn’t take not being able to travel for one more day. We took a day trip to Wilson, NC so I’ve got a recommended itinerary to share with you. There is one indoor activity that you could skip for covid-19 prevention but everything else is outdoors and socially distant.

Tired of being cooped up and unable to travel, we planned a luxurious day trip from Raleigh to Wilson, North Carolina.

Wilson is currently known for it’s whirligigs so it was pretty easy to lure friends with kids as well as another couple along with us. We had a fantastic trip, but having done it, there are a couple things I’d do slightly differently so I’m going to share what I would do and what you should do rather than what we actually did.

A day of luxury in Wilson, NC

Grab a travel mug of coffee, a pile of cash, and some sunscreen, and drive 50 minutes to Flo’s Kitchen.

Flo’s Kitchen

1015 Goldsboro St S, Wilson, NC 27893

Flo's Kitchen
Image Source

When you get to within a block of the restaurant on the main road and see a traffic jam, don’t be tempted to go around it. Stay in the right lane as it’s actually just the drive-through line extending onto the main street. Don’t worry, the line moves way more quickly than at Chick-fil-A. Pick up the best biscuit you’ve had in your life. Flo’s has quite a few items on their menu, but just get a cheese biscuit with maybe one other topping. The hoop cheese they use is so delicious that you really won’t be able to appreciate any other toppings but if you must get bacon/egg/sausage, go for it.

Your next stop is only a three more minutes down the road so you won’t have to wait too long to dig into your biscuit and stretch out your legs.

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum

301 Goldsboro St S, Wilson, NC 27893
www.wilsonwhirligigpark.org/

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is just good fun. It’s a big wide open park with lots to look at so it’s great for social distancing entertainment. The whirligigs are numerous, large, and impressive. However, if whirligigs aren’t your thing, there is also grass to run around on and walls to climb on.

217 Brew Works

217 South St S, Wilson, NC 27893
217brewworks.com/

217 Brew Works
Image Source

Beside the park is 217 Brew Works, a brewery that was not open when we went during covid-19, but would be a good place to hang out for a bit with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Downtown Wilson

www.historicdowntownwilson.com/

We did wander around town and got to see several murals, trains, construction, beautiful old and empty buildings, some hidden alleys, and some random small town shops. So if you’re into that kind of thing, definitely spend 30 minutes exploring before getting back into your car.

Your next stop is the Freeman Round House, a 3 minute drive away (or 21 minute walk if you’re feeling energetic).

The Round House

1202 Hines St SE, Wilson, NC 27893
www.theroundhousemuseum.com/

Wilson Round House
Image Source

A literal round house made of rocks was enough to get me there just to take a look. But we were surprised by the friendly man that opened the door and invited us into the small structure. As far as museums to go to during covid times, this seemed pretty good since we were the only ones there. Air circulation could have been better but that’s not a big deal if you wear a mask. And let me tell you, it’s a worthwhile visit. The docent told us all about the guy that built the house (he had pet bears), why he built it (for a returning GI), several other things he had built (a dinosaur on the front lawn), and a few fun facts about Wilson history, and especially the African-American history in Wilson. There’s also a second building that we didn’t have time to visit but I’m guessing between the two buildings, you could spend up to an hour (we sadly only had about 10 minutes).

If you’re ready to eat at this point, find your car and hop back in for a 6 minute drive to Dick’s Hot Dog Stand.

Dick’s Hot Dog Stand

1500 Nash St N, Wilson, NC 27893
www.dickshotdogstand.com/

Dick's Hot Dog Stand
Image Source

This is a stop that we missed on our trip so I can’t personally guarantee that it’s amazing. But they’ve been serving hot dogs since 1921, so I’m pretty confident in assuming it’s amazing. Hot dog stand is a bit of a misnomer because it’s actually a huge restaurant with tons of tables, but I believe they’re currently takeout only.

If you’re not ready for a nap yet, drive 8 minutes over to Wilson Botanical Gardens for a little nature.

Wilson Botanical Gardens

1806 Goldsboro St S, Wilson, NC 27893
www.wilsonbotanicalgardens.com/

Wilson Botanical Gardens
Image Source

They have a bird garden, a pond, a secret garden, a medicinal and culinary herb garden, a native plant garden, and so much more to see.

If you’re not ready for a nap yet, you will be by the time you get home. Drive 46 minutes.

In summary:

  • Driving: 2 hours
  • Walking: 0.5 hours
  • Eating: cheese biscuits, craft beer, hot dogs
  • Experiencing and exploring: so many whirligigs, small town North Carolina, a small town museum, a botanical garden

What do you think?! Let me know if you give it a try.

Yet another perfect day in Japan

I put together yet another perfectly fancy one-day itinerary for Japan, this time in Tokyo, in hopes that I’ll one day be able to use it.

I know, I know, it’s impossible. But I’ve got yet another perfect day in Japan to share with you today. Read on for the play by play.

A perfectly fancy day in Tokyo:

Wake-up and enjoy a quick in-room breakfast at Hoshinoya Tokyo – a contemporary ryokan in the heart of Tokyo.

Walk 28 minutes to Tokyo Great Cycling Tour office.

We’ll pick up a bike and ride 10 minutes along the Sumida river and stop for an insta from the Chuo-ohashi Bridge.

Chuo-ohashi Bridge

We’ll continue riding just another 5 minutes to Sumiyoshi Jinja, an old Shinto Shrine on Tsukuda-Jima, a former fisherman’s island.

Sumiyoshi Jinja

From there, we’ll ride another 10 minutes on to the Tsukiji Jogai outer market. This is where the crazy tuna auction used to take place, but is still apparently a stellar place for fresh seafood and veggies.

Tsukiji outer market

After grabbing a snack, continue riding 18 minutes across a number of bridges and Sim City-like landfill islands to Toyosu market, the new location for the crazy tuna auction (which takes place much earlier than I’m willing to be awake).

Toyosu market

Ride another 18 minutes to Odaiba Marine Park to check out a mini statue of liberty and eat a bento lunch.

Work off some calories with a 45 minute ride to the Zojoji (Buddhist) Temple and Tokyo Tower – an Eiffel Tower looking thing with observation decks if we’re in the mood for that.

Zojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower

Then we’ll ride another 15 minutes to the Imperial Palace.

Imperial Palace

Finally, ride 12 minutes to drop off the bikes and grab a quick beer.

Catch a 6 minute ride-share back to the hotel (which happens to be next door to a craft beer market) for a nap before dinner, which may or may not be a light in-room meal.

In summary:

  • Walking: 0.5 hours
  • Cycling: 2.25 hours
  • Eating: ryokan breakfast, bento lunch, anything else that strikes our fancy
  • Experiencing and exploring: cycling around Tokyo, a Shinto Shrine, a Buddhist Temple, an Imperial Palace, the old and new fish markets, a mini Statue of Liberty, and the second tallest structure in Japan

What do you think?!

Who’s been to Japan and has tips to share?!

Another perfect day in Japan

I put together another perfectly fancy one-day itinerary for Japan, this time in the alps, in hopes that I’ll one day be able to use it.

Last week I shared my version of a perfect day in Japan. Luckily for those who live their entire lives in Japan, I feel like there are several possible perfect days in Japan. So here’s another one for you. Read on for the play by play.

A perfectly fancy day in the Japan Alps:

Wake-up at Toyama Excel Hotel Tokyu in Toyama – a very fancy and conveniently located place to stay.

Walk 1 minute to Toyama Station and pick up some breakfast and lunch to go. Look for hotaruika (firefly squid) and shiroebi (white shrimp).

Hop on the train for 60 minutes on the Toyama Chino line bound for Tateyama.

Ride a cable car for 7 minutes up to Bijodaira.

Catch a bus and ride 50 minutes to Murodo via the Midagahara Kogen.

Midagahara Kogen

Walk 15 minutes to see Tateyama caldera – the largest nonactive crater in Japan – and then back to Murodo.

OR walk 30 minutes past Mikuri-ga-ike pond ( Japan’s highest onsen ryokan) and on to Jigokidani Onsen (Hell Valley Hot Springs) where we’ll find literal boiling water – and then back to Murodo.

Mikiri-ga-ike

Hop on the trolley bus for 10 minutes through Tateyama-dake to Daikanbo.

Then take the Tateyama Ropeway 7 minutes down to Kurobe-daira.

Tateyama Ropeway

Next, catch the underground Kurobe cable car 5 minutes to Kurobeko.

Walk 15 minutes across the Kurobe Dam for a great view. And then walk back.

Karobe Dam

Hop a trolley bus for 16 minutes through a tunnel to Ogizawa.

Finally, catch a 40 minute bus to Omachi onsen-kyo, and another for 90 minutes to Nagano Station.

And then we’ll just need to find a nice place to rest like babies.

In summary:

  • Walking: 1 – 1.5 hours
  • Variety of public transit: 4.75 hours
  • Eating: hotaruika, shiroebi, and various travel snacks
  • Experiencing: a ropeway, an underground cable car, an inactive crater, boiling hot springs, a cable car, a dam, Nagano (you remember it from 1998)

What do you think?!

Should we do more next week?!

A perfect day in Japan

I put together a perfectly fancy one-day itinerary for Osaka, Japan in hopes that I’ll one day be able to use it. If not, there’s also a 3D tour so you can pretend you’re there.

No, I’m not in Japan, but on these days when I’m locked at home, all I can think about is how much I want to be everywhere else. So I decided, what better time to start planning the trip to Japan we had been hoping to take in the fall.

While I don’t particularly enjoy trips that are planned out to the minute, I do like to do some research to help me figure out where I might want to stay and how long I want to spend in any particular place. From the little research I’ve done about Japan so far, I’ve learned that actually planning some things might come in handy as there are restaurants and museums that I’d like to experience that actually book up months in advance. Of course it would also be helpful to know when (if) we’re actually going on this trip before I make any reservations. So I think what I’m going to try to do is put together some daily itineraries and then when I figure out if we’re going to get to go at some point, I can start piecing the days together into a trip and make the necessary reservations.

So without further ado, here’s a perfect day in Osaka, Japan. Click here for the 3D tour – it’ll take it’s time to load, but once it does, click the ‘Present’ button on the left, and then use the arrows on the bottom (beside the Table of Contents) to advance through the tour. Or you can simply keep reading on for the play by play.

A perfectly fancy day in Osaka:

Wake-up at Dotombori Crystal Hotel Ⅳ, a nice modern hotel.

Walk 24 minutes to Boulangerie and Cafe Gout to pick up coffee and pastries.

Walk 8 minutes to Osaka Castle Park to enjoy breakfast.

After eating, spend an hour wandering around Osaka Castle Park.

Osaka Castle

Take the metro (5 minute walk, 5 minute metro, 8 minute walk) to Dōguya-suji Arcade to think about buying some kitchen or cooking supplies or plastic food samples. Spend about an hour shopping.

Walk 6 more minutes to the Kuromon Ichiba Market to find something to eat with our newly purchased chopsticks. Spend about 30 minutes here.

Walk 5 minutes to Takoyaki Wanaka for tako-yaki – grilled octopus stuffed dumplings. I can’t wait!

takoyaki

This will be a great time for a nap if there’s time so we’ll walk 15 minutes back to the hotel.

After my lovely nap, we’ll walk 12 minutes via the Tombori River Walk to grab dinner at Shoubentango-tei where they serve an Osaka style kaiseki called kappo-ryori – fancy dinner for me!

After dinner, we’ll explore Dotombori, known for its bright lights, street food, and night life. I could see us wandering for an hour or two.

Dotonbori

If we somehow find room in our stomachs, we’ll stop at Chibo for okonomiyaki – thick savory pancakes filled however you want.

Okonomiyaki

From there, it’s a 10 minute walk back to the hotel where we will sleep like babies.

In summary:

  • Walking: 1. 5 hours
  • Wandering: 3.5 – 4.5 hours
  • Eating: pastries and coffee, tako-yaki, kappo-ryori, okonomiyaki
  • Experiencing: a park, a castle, food shopping, kitchenware shopping, night life

What do you think?!

I’ll plan to share another fun day plan with you next week!

10 Things to Know Before Planning a Trip to Barbados

If you find yourself lucky enough to get to go to Barbados, and clever enough to plan your trip, there are a few things you might want to know before you start planning.

I’ve never planned a trip to Barbados.

But on a whim, I’ve found myself on a luxury vacation in Barbados. If you wanted to plan your own trip though, here’s what you should know.

1. Include a Friday in you trip

It’s the only day for the weekly Friday Fish Fry at Oistins Bay Gardens.

2. Plan to eat fish

Flying fish, tuna, swordfish, marlin, mahi-mahi, lobster.

Macaroni pie is something else you’ll see on almost every menu.

3. The exchange rate is 1 US dollar = 2 Bajan dollars

Always. Most places will accept US dollars but typically provide change with Bajan dollars (BDS).

4. They drive on the left side of the road

5. There’s lots of honking

People honk to be friendly. Some taxi drivers honk to every other taxi they see. Buses honk to let you know they’re coming. Some horns play fun musical tunes.

6. Transit is cheap and plentiful

There might be almost as many buses in Barbados as there are cars. They’ll honk as they’re coming up behind you so you can quickly turn around and flag them down if you want on. It costs BDS$3.50 to ride.

7. Try rum punch early and often

Everyone serves it and it’s usually pretty cheap. The recipe is: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.

So you can see that the ingredients and flavor might vary between bartenders.

8. Try rum early and often

Barbados claims to be the birthplace of rum. I’m not here to fact check that, but rather to tell you that you should probably figure out how you’re going to get to Foursquare Rum Factory (self guided tour), St. Nicholas Abbey (and working plantation), Mount Gay Distillery (basic tour every hour, but book ahead if you want a fancy tour), and the West Indies Rum Distillery. You probably shouldn’t be driving. Although stumbling into a few of the million local rum shops is also an option.

9. Don’t drink this

Tiger Malt

10. If you’ve got a Google Fi phone plan, they’ve got you covered

  • Data is $10.00 / GB
  • SMS is included with your plan (my plan is $20 / month)
  • Voice calls are $0.20 / min in Barbados

Don’t pay $10 per day to use your phone while traveling. Get Fi (and a $20 credit if you use this referral link).