Meet my Guest:
Mary Jean from One Nutty Girl

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I got to meet Mary Jean earlier this year, and I just love her blog! Mary Jean developed a passion for her home after becoming a SAHM 8 years ago. She always loved to cook and bake and she tapped into that love and really put her heart into cooking delicious and healthy meals. (She talks about cooking lessons with Kendra below, another favorite blog of mine: My First Kitchen). Back to Mary … She had a small cookie dough company for 4 years called The Dough Nut where she sold frozen cookie dough and baked gift boxed cookies. She sold them in local stores and through She gave up cookie making when she started an online magazine for the Triad of North Carolina called

Mary Jean loves making people smile with good food and food that is good for you too!!

Enjoy Mary’s post today …

I know your first thought is do the the words Entertaining and Vacation even belong in the same sentence? I believe that they can go hand in hand with a little thought, planning and a fun attitude.

I am blessed that each year my parents rent a fabulous beach house for our extended family in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Just a few weeks ago 12 of us {8 adults and 4 children} gathered together to share a week together. One of my gifts each year is that I cook a few nights for my family. Besides being expensive, going out to dinner involves long lines, cranky children, and often noisy restaurants. We much prefer to stay at home and enjoy our beach view with some good home made food.

Use what is available and set the table!

Often times rental homes can be lacking in dishes and decor. I scour the house, use what they have and make it work. Here you can see I have used the lighthouse cookie jar and matching salt and pepper shakers as my centerpiece. I dug up some hidden away place mats and set the mood to dine at the table.

Bring what you can from home.

I shopped for most of what I needed at Trader Joe’s the day before leaving. Great food at a great budget! I have to drive an hour to get to the one closest to me and I find it is well worth it. Bring some friends like I did and make it fun!

I also bring cooking staples from my own kitchen. Essential condiments like olive oil, seasonings, salt and pepper are easy to pack and save you money by not having to repurchase.

Keep the food simple!

This year I decided to go with roasted whole organic chickens. Whole chickens are cheaper and very easy to prepare thanks to my friend Kendra at My First Kitchen! I was blessed to attend one of her recent cooking classes were I learned how super easy it is to roast a perfectly succulent chicken each time. The leftovers are perfect for sandwiches too!

Here I am demonstrating the fine art of trussing a chicken! {Again, thanks Kendra for teaching me!} Note the only scissors available were from my kids craft supplies we brought! I should have added cooking twine to my bring from home list! No twine to be found in the near vicinity and I had to improvise with some kite string!

I also like to stop at Farm Stands on the way in to the beach. The best place to pick up fresh local produce.

Use all available help!

While the chickens were in the oven roasting we took some time to chop our local produce and enjoy a drink together. I love when others get involved with the meal!

Keep it FUN!

It does not have to be perfect to be fun and enjoyable. If you need to just plop the pan on the table and serve from it….then go for it!

Wear a Cute Dress!

Oh and my motto while on vacation…..The head cook does not clean up!

Do you cook when you’re on vacation?

(Thank you, One Nutty Girl!)