Black and Decker Performance FusionBlade Blender Review

Summer is going well. We are loving the warm weather, swimming, biking and all of the beauty that Summer brings. We even got past the two weeks of 100 degree weather. Now, it feels really pleasant here in North Carolina. One thing we enjoy is our Summertime Smoothies. 

Black and Decker Performance FusionBlade Blender
by CarolinaMama

Thanks to Black and Decker Performance FusionBlade Blender, we have been having so much fun making our Smoothie Recipes with their latest Black and Decker Performance FusionBlade blender! It is fabulous. We enjoy so many features.  Here are some of our favorite things: 

Black and Decker Performance FusionBlade Blender
by CarolinaMama

  • FusionBlade™- The stainless steel FusionBlade™ is designed to quickly crush ice and evenly blend soups and smoothies. The unique jar shape creates a powerful vortex, bringing ingredients into the blade for a smooth and efficient blend, whether making peanut butter or pureeing soups.
  • 64-oz. Tritan™ Jar- The BPA-free plastic jar is lightweight, yet durable, with room for all your blended favorites.
  • 20-oz. Personal Blender Jar- The BPA-free personal-size jar comes with a removable blade base and a travel lid for taking a shake or smoothie on the go.
  • Digital Controls- Blend with five speeds and a pulse function, or use five pre-programmed settings to quickly take care of a variety of creations like soups, smoothies, and more!
  • 1100W Motor- The powerful 1100-watt motor is up for any blending task in the kitchen, with non-skid rubber feet to keep it in place during operation.
  • One-Piece Design- The FusionBlade™ is fully integrated with the 64-oz. jar for simple operation and easy cleaning in the dishwasher.

We love to make Fruit Smoothies with Frozen Bananas, Blueberries, Strawberries... and fruit. And we add a lot of ice for an ice cold smoothie and it tastes like a milkshake. It is a real healthy treat.

Our sons like to make their own creative recipes and they are at an age where they can simply use the 20-oz. Personal Blender Jar.

We look forward to Fall and using our Black and Decker Performance FusionBlade Blender for blending vegetables for stews and soup bases.

Try one for your own family's blending needs. This is a wonderful addition to your kitchen appliances.

Warmly, Carolina Mama

FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Black and Decker. All opinions are my own. 

Hilton Head Island's Palmetto Dune's New Sport Pickleball

Tennis Meets Ping Pong in Pickleball, New Sport at Hilton Head Island’s Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Palmetto Dunes Tennis and Pickleball 

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Named one of the world’s best getaways for families by Travel + Leisure in 2013, Palmetto Dunes has added even more family fun to its many offerings with the addition of pickleball at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center. Described as tennis meets ping pong, the game is easy to pick up and popular with all ages.

Pickleball joined the range of activities available at the oceanfront Hilton Head resort in June and has already been a hit with families and retired individuals visiting the resort. “If this turns out to be as popular as we think it will be, we’ll soon be hosting pickleball tournaments and offering memberships and lessons in addition to our usual tennis lineup,” says John Kerr, director of tennis for Palmetto Dunes.

Played with oversized ping pong paddles and a softball-sized plastic perforated ball, the goal is to volley the ball over a net that stands 34 inches. Points are scored only by the serving team and games are normally played to 11 points, winning by at least 2. Four games can be played simultaneously on one tennis court, and Palmetto Dunes has dedicated one of its 25 tennis courts to the sport.

Palmetto Dunes Tennis and Pickleball 

To play pickleball at Palmetto Dunes, costs range from $15 for walk-ins (Noon-4 p.m.) and $20 reserved in advance. Guests staying with Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort receive two hours of free tennis court or pickleball time daily with their accommodations booking. Pickleball machines are also available for rent for practice or playing alone. Costs are $20 for a half hour or $30 for a full hour. For more information about playing pickleball at Palmetto Dunes, call the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center at 843-785-1152.

According to The USA Pickleball Association, or USAPA, there are currently 2000 locations to play pickleball around the U.S. and 400,000 players.

About Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort
Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is a 2,000-acre resort destination located in the middle of Hilton Head Island, S.C., bounded by 3 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach on one side and a sheltered Intracoastal Waterway marina on the other. Named to the top 25 World’s Best Family Getaways by Travel + Leisure in 2013, the resort features three world-class golf courses, an award-winning tennis center, an 11-mile inland salt-water lagoon system for kayaking and fishing, and Hilton Head Outfitters for bike rentals, canoes, kayaks, fishing and much more. The Mediterranean-style Shelter Cove Harbour, Hilton Head Island’s largest deep-water marina, located right across from Palmetto Dunes, features waterfront shopping and dining and a wide variety of charters, including nature cruises, dolphin tours, sport crabbing and fishing. For information about activities or reservations, please call 877-567-6513 or visit

Warmly, Carolina Mama

FTC Disclosure: I LOVE that Palmetto Dune's is offering Pickleball as their new sport! My boys love it! I am sharing because I LOVE Hilton Head Island and Palmetto Dunes! We love our time at HHI and Palmetto Dune's Oceanfront Resort whether working or on our own get away. Try it and enjoy!

Island Express Ferry Services of the Crystal Coast, NC is Excellent

Island Express Ferry Services, Crystal Coast, NC 

The views were truly majestic.... the sunset view of the Cape Lookout Lighthouse only makes my resolve to visit again soon more strong. 

One our recent visit, the weather was more like this.... perfect. Thanks to Island Express Ferry Services, our journey was perfect. 

Cape Lookout NC CarolinaMama and Family

Our Emerald Isle, NC beach trip included so many wonderful excursions along the Crystal Coast. I have loved sharing our adventures and recommendations with you here. One of the last incredible services we experienced was crucial to our visit to Cape Lookout and the Cape Lookout Lighthouse - the Island Express Ferry Services.  The sun was pretty mesmerizing as our crew rode over on a warm NC afternoon.

The Crystal Coast was living up to her name was we traveled the clear blue green waters. 

The Island Express Ferry Services at Cape Lookout is the most comfortable, professional and timely 

The Island Express Ferry Service surprised us with a visit to Harkers Island where we were able to view the wild horses! This was spectacular! 

Then, we were within feet of the legendary Cape Lookout Lighthouse! We were all ecstatic! 

We traversed the island and enjoyed the hiking trails to the ocean and the lighthouse. It was a picture perfect day! The sea was glistening. 

The island was a fun place to explore. 

We had so much fun! The weather was perfect. Our Captain was very informative and helpful. 

When You Schedule Your Trip / Destination to Cape Lookout National Seashores -  Go to the Island Express Ferry Service plan one of these trips: 

Shackle ford Banks Wild Horses by CarolinaMama 
1) Beaufort to Shackleford Banks; 
2) Harkers Island to Cape Lookout Lighthouse; and 
3) Harkers Island to Shackleford Banks. 

What To Bring on the Island Express Ferry Service: 
  • Water
  • Trash bags
  • Hand sanitizer and/or wet wipes
  • Sunblock, hat and sunglasses are essential.
  • Travel light. Carry-ons are allowed for a small fee. However space is limited. Small backpacks and coolers are best. 
  • Small coolers permitted (42 quart limit).
  • Lightweight compact folding chairs and umbrellas are permitted.
  • Limit two fishing poles per passenger. Hooks must be removed before boarding. 
  • Carry-on items subject to search before boarding.
  • There are no trash receptacles, so plan to bring back everything you take.
  • Drinks, snacks or picnic lunch.
  • Insect Repellant.
  • Pets allowed on the boats for an nominal fee, but remember that all pets must remain on leashes 6' or shorter.
What NOT to Bring: 
  • Due to restricted space, large items such as wagons, non-folding luggage carriers, unbagged folding chairs, huge strollers, etc. will be accommodated as space permits for an additional charge. 
  • Glass bottles and containers are prohibited. 
  • Highly flammable liquids, including propane, are not allowed on the boats. 
  • Spear guns prohibited. 
To book the Island Express Ferry Service, go here for Rates and Service. 
The Ferry takes you to these Shores .... :)

Frolicking at Cape Lookout Seashore with Shakleford Banks in the distance
by CarolinaMama 

Cape Lookout Lighthouse Information is here. 

The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is open for climbing from the second week in May to the third weekend in September. Self-guided tours of up to 10 people* will begin every 15 minutes during the hours of operation. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is CLOSED ON SUNDAYS. You may plan accordingly. The website lists ONLY three (3) Sundays in the Summer when the Lighthouse is open. The Memorial Weekend, the 4th of July Weekend and Labor Day Weekend. The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is CLOSED ON MONDAYS. 

Important: Plan your Cape Lookout Lighthouse visit WiTH your Island Express Ferry Service. The Captain is great to keep a list and times for departure so you know when to be ready at the dock. 

Have a beautiful time. We certainly enjoyed so much of the natural beauty and history of this entire area thanks to the convenience and comfort of Island Express Ferry Services. 

We LOVE #MyCrystalCoast 

Warmly, Carolina Mama

FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Island Express Ferry Services  .  All opinions are my own. 

Circa 81 Restaurant, Morehead City, NC Our Family Review

Circa 81, Morehead City, NC Shrimp and Grits
by CarolinaMama 

Circa 81 Restaurant Morehead City, North Carolina, Tapas, Seafood and More, "Gather, Eat and Enjoy."  Tapas: a small plate or appetizer.  The Shrimp and Grits were divine! I cannot resist taste testing these throughout the Southeast and these were top of the list! Lump and juicy Shrimp with a wonderful cream base with a rich flavor from spices and mushrooms!

On our recent trip to Emerald Isle, we were invited to a lovely Sunday Brunch at Circa 81.  The menu was delightful. The fabulous things is that there were so many wonderful options and with Tapas, you are sure to try many things... :)  Circa 81 is a wonderful culinary delight on the Crystal Coast.  We were so happy we went. 

We enjoyed an amazing Seafood Chowder.  We loved how smooth and tasty it was with the shrimp and crabmeat. This warmed us right up after a fun time on the Ferry over to Cape Lookout. The perfect decadent meal when we were ravished from our water excursions and sightseeing. 

This Lump Crabmeat Shrimp and Parmesan Dip was seriously enough for me to vote a 5 Star for Circa 81! Rich, tasty and a nice kick. Seafood delicacy. 

I love that my son loves the Shrimp and Grits as much as I do. He thought they were some of the best he has tasted, too. That's saying a lot.  Southern. 

Let the photo and description speak for the absolute perfection of this entree: 

Circa 81 Benedict - Poached eggs, over handmade lump crab cakes, served on a fried grit cake, & topped with homemade hollandaise sauce, served with home fries.

Circa 81 Eggs Benedict by CarolinaMama 

We have a Pancake Lover in our family. He also has a craving for Bacon, always. So this meal was perfection for him. 

One of the other unique dishes we discovered was the Crabmeat Mac and Cheese! This just took Mac and Cheese to a whole other level of seafood delight!  You just have to try it! Of course, order a side salad to balance out ALL of the Splurging you will do!  

One of our boys LOVED the Double French Toast with Amazing Turkey Sausage. Of course, I was happy my teenage son liked this as much as Mom's. Okay, maybe a little better. :) 

Another fabulous Brunch Item were items like the Eggs Benedict ~ Poached eggs, over thinly sliced prosciutto ham, served on an English muffin & topped with homemade hollandaise sauce, served with home fries        

Here are some other items on the Menu that made it difficult for us to made decisions and that also made us know we will have to return to Circa 81 when we are on the Crystal Coast of NC. 

Circa Pork Chop  ~ Thick cut, bone-in pork chop, rubbed in a sweet and smoky house blend, served with Covington sweet potato and wilted baby spinach                                                                                              
Lobster Parmesan-Encrusted Mahi Mahi ~ served with julienne vegetables and garlic mash                                                             
Herbed-Gorgonzola Encrusted NY Strip ~ served with fingerling potatoes, asparagus, port wine and balsamic reduction       
Beef Short Ribs ~ braised for 48 hours, served with celery root, exotic mushroom, broccoli, heirloom carrots, farro, pumpernickel     
Pappardelle Pasta ~ Local Greentail Shrimp, julienned vegetables, wilted spinach, sautéed mushroom, almond, roasted red pepper and basil cream sauce, smoke Gouda          

As you can see, there is something amazing for every palette.  We hope you go to Circa 81 and have a wonderful time. Check out the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium and Capelook Out Lighthouse while you are there. The Ocean is stunning as well! Bon Voyage!          

Warmly, Carolina Mama

FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Circa 81. All opinions are my own. 

Family Friendly Sangria Cooking with Jeb Brown

Today we are happy to Welcome Back our Guest Blogger and Chef, Jeb Brown! Jeb created an incredible "Family Friendly Sangria!" from garden fresh fruits. I love it!  Just a reminder if you missed his last post of amazing Pad Thai, Jeb is my girlfriend Megan's son. Jeb continues to excel as a Chef and as a Writer. 

Family Friendly Sangria by Jeb Brown 
Personally, I am so happy to have a family friendly version of sangria because of all that beautiful fruit. Please take note, Jeb's creation uses fruit from his own garden! I cannot wait to try this with my own husband and sons. Thank you, Jeb and Megan. 

Introducing Jeb Brown... Jeb Brown is a 14-year-old Guinea pig enthusiast, classic film appreciator, Celtic music lover, and Kansas City Royals fan.

Family Friendly Sangria 
by Jeb Brown

During the summer, my family likes to have refreshing drinks to endure the hot days.  I have found that sangria (a non-alcoholic version) is a hit with my family, especially my little brothers.  It is a wonderful mixture of fruit and fruit juices, which is a pleasant thing to have during those nearly 100° days. 
Sangria is a great way to cool off during the hot summer days.  It is especially good for family time outside (perhaps to enjoy while Dad is grilling dinner?).   Sangria can be made many different ways, with many different variations, but this one is my favorite.  I modified my recipe based on this one by Modern Mrs. Darcy's "Cold Drinks for Hot Summer Days." 
Family Friendly Sangria

Family Friendly Sangria
Cooking with Jeb 
by Jeb Brown
3 cups of grape juice
½ cup of orange juice
½ cup of pomegranate juice
¾ cup of raspberries, divided
¾ cup of blackberries, divided 
1 Nectarine, sliced 
1/3 cup of water 
1/3 cup of sugar 
Sparkling Water

Make simple syrup by combining: water, sugar, ¼ cup of raspberries, ¼ cup of blackberries, and 2 slices of the nectarine in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.  Combine grape, orange, and pomegranate juice, remaining berries, remaining nectarine slices, and the simple syrup (berries and nectarine slices too!) in a pitcher.  Stir and chill to let the flavors meld.  
When chilled…
Fill desired glass up to ¾ of the way full with sangria, and top off with sparkling water. 

This drink is very family friendly, and is a good thing to have around while having summer family time.  Try making your own unique recipe, with your own combinations of fruits and fruit juices.  I hope you enjoy this recipe, which you can use as a starting point for your own signature sangria.   ☺   
Thank you Jeb for sharing your recipe with us! We enjoy your posts here at Carolina Mama. Have a great Summer. 

Warmly, Carolina Mama

FTC Disclosure: Jeb Brown was hired to write this post as a Guest Blogger for Carolina Mama.

Hyatt House, Raleigh, NC Neighborhood Attractions Guide #HyattHouse

Welcome to the Hyatt House Raleigh, NC Neighborhood Attractions Guide 

Hyatt House is in the beautiful North Hills area of Raleigh, NC. It is a chic, uber-hip and friendly shopping and dining area of Raleigh.  We love it! In fact, since the twins were smaller,  we've visited the Fountain and made wishes while tossing pennies. We've taken photos and enjoyed dining, shopping and attractions in this quaint and peaceful locale. 

North Hills is Raleigh's Midtown. This innovative, multi-faceted district offers many options to live, work, shop, dine, and play, according to Visit North Hills. 

This Segment is the Attractions portion of my Hyatt House Neighborhood Guide work with Hyatt House, Raleigh. Previously, we have covered their Neighborhood Guide for all things Dining, and Shopping. We are completing the project with this Attractions Guide. You are talking about fun! This is the perfect assignment for us. Hyatt House is now offering their own microsite to share these options with customers. I loved writing these guides and best of all -  Hyatt House is letting me share it with you here. 

Feel free to pass it along to your local family, friends and business associates. Here is our list of favorite Attractions in near proximity to the Hyatt House North Hills, Raleigh. This are in no particular order. 

Hyatt House Neighborhood Attractions Guide

Hotel Location: Hyatt House North Hills Raleigh, NC

Category: Attractions Food / Drink and Shopping

Place Name: PNC Arena (7 miles from Hyatt House)
Place Address: 1400 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607

Description: Indoor Arena. Seats over 19,000. 

Recommendation: Love this arena which is home of the Carolina Hurricanes.  Enjoy Hockey, NC State Basketball,Concerts and more.

Local’s  Tip: Parking is abundant and typically costs between $15-$20 per event. Bring Cash for parking. Only point and shoot cameras and phones are allowed through security, leave your big camera and larger bags at the Hyatt House. Get last minute tickets for your favorite events at Will Call is open during business hours for pick up. Call ahead and get your tickets before the crowds at your event. 

Tags: Sports Attractions, Sports Events, Concerts, Family Night, Guys Night, Girls Night, Kid Friendly, Good for Groups, Business Friendly

Hyatt House Neighborhood Guide
Hotel Location: Hyatt House North Hills, Raleigh, NC 

Category: Attractions
Place Name: Pullen Park, Raleigh, NC (8 miles from Hyatt House)
Place Address: 408 Ashe Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27606

Description: North Carolina’s oldest operating amusement park in the world.

Recommendation: Ride the train, the carousel, kiddie boats, paddle boats and the 1914 merry-go-round. 

Local’s  Tip: Plan to spend the day. The grounds are amazing and beautiful. Ride the Carousel. Buy Tickets to the Carousel, Train, etc. in advance at the Ticket Booth. Then wait in line for admission to each attraction at the Park. The Park is Decorated for Christmas throughout the Holiday Season. Get Train Ride tickets early for this ride, they sell out quickly. There is a large playground for tots and younger children. This is FREE. 

Tags: Kid Friendly, Family Friendly, Celebrations, Good for Groups, Budget Friendly, Romantic, Casual

Hyatt House Neighborhood Guide
Hotel Location: Hyatt House North Hills, Raleigh, NC 

Category: Attractions

Place Name: North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC
Place Address: 5 E. Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC (5 miles from Hyatt House)

Description: The History Gallery was established in 1898. 

Recommendation: Enjoy “The Story of North Carolina.” 

Local’s  Tip: There is a paid parking lot just East of the Museum. The Museum is located on the Bicentennial Mall which you can enjoy after the Museum. While you’re downtown see the Governor’s Mansion nearby. Visit the locally popular Krispy Kreme Donuts at 549 North Person Street, Raleigh, NC on your way back to the Hyatt House. It even has a drive through. 
Tags: Educational, Kid Friendly, Family Friendly, Casual, Celebrations, Good for Groups, Budget Friendly

Hyatt House Neighborhood Guide
Hotel Location: Hyatt House North Hills, Raleigh, NC 

Category: Attractions

                                        (5 miles from The Hyatt House)
Place Address: 11 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Description: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. 
Recommendation: The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the State’s most visited attraction, the largest institution of its type in the southeast U.S., and was recently adjudicated to be among the top twenty of the nation’s 17,500 museums for outstanding community service.

Local’s  Tip: General Admission is FREE. Special exhibits may include a fee. Visit the North Carolina Legislature right across the street. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is on the North end of the Bicentennial Plaza. Walk the plaza and see the North Carolina State Capitol. Plan to spend the day and see as much as you can. Remember the Butterfly Pavillion and live animal exhibits in the Museum. There is an interactive laboratory where museum staff will help you explore and learn about the animals. 

Tags: Kid Friendly, Budget Friendly, Free Admission, Casual, Good for Groups, Celebrations

Hyatt House Neighborhood Guide
Hotel Location: Hyatt House North Hills, Raleigh, NC 

Category: Food/Drink Attractions Shopping

Place Name: Cameron Village, Raleigh
Place Address: 2108 Clark Avenue, Raleigh, NC (4.5 miles from Hyatt House)
Phone: 919-821-1350

Description: Cameron Village was created to meet the need of the customer with a wide variety of shops, dining and attractions. The outdoor shopping has the best boutiques in the Triangle.
Recommendation: One-of-a-kind outdoor mall with trees and unique shop.  Try REI for a huge supply of all your outdoor needs. The Chick-fil-A Cameron Village is THE largest individual Chick-fil-A. 
Local’s  Tip: The newly opened Tupelo Honey is all the buzz in Raleigh! It is across the street from the Starbucks Cameron Village on Oberlin Street. Enjoy!
Tags: Upscale, Romantic, Date Night, Family Friendly, Special Occasion, Good for Groups, Special Dietary Accommodations 

Hyatt House Neighborhood Guide
Hotel Location: Hyatt House North Hills, Raleigh, NC 

Category: Food/Drink Attractions Shopping

Place Name: Crabtree Valley Mall, Raleigh, NC (3.3 Miles from Hyatt House)
Place Address: 4325 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612

Description: A 1,326,000 square foot mall makes it the largest in the Triangle. Recommendation: Crabtree Valley has over 220 stores, including flagship stores like The North Face, Lilly Pulitzer, Brooks Brothers, Madewell, Athleta, Apple, Lego, Mac and more. Restaurants include P. F. Chang’s, Kanki, McCormack Schmidt, Cheesecake Factory  and more.  Crabtree Valley Mall offers FREE WiFi! 

Local’s  Tip: Enjoy lunch at Kanki’s, Cheesecake Factory and PF Chang’s which have valet parking. Parking is available for FREE and it is abundant. Park on the back side of the mall to enter near Panera Bread or J. Crew.  The parking garage is covered for inclement weather. If you have technology problems, set your appointment at the Apple Store in advance. Shop and Dine while you wait for your appointment. 

Tags: Good for Groups, Celebrations, Upscale, Some Budget Friendly, Business Casual, Romantic Dinner Options, Special Dietary Options, Kid Friendly

Enjoy your time at Hyatt House, Raleigh, NC. These Attractions will help you make memories for a lifetime. 
Warmly, Carolina Mama

FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Hyatt House North Hills. All opinions are my own.