Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rock Star Cupcakes

This photo sums up the love for my big, strong, sensitive Charlie Bear. (Sorry Babe, you are just too cute for words.) He's carrying my newly purchased artwork AND a cupcake on a rainy day during our vacation in Asbury Park. We stumbled upon this clever cupcake shop on the main drag on Cookman Street the first day of our trip. Just when we thought we had seen all the cupcake shops imaginable, this store seduced us with her little pink boxes and not-too-sweet confections. E said that his oREO Speedwagon was pretty good. I saved my calories for salted caramel ice cream.

The pink walls begged you to leave your mark, like a rebellious youth. There was an apron signed by Bobby Flay, framed from some Food Network turnover show that filmed here. 

Aren't the CD signs adorable?

The place brought back memories of 7th grade "fun nights" at St. Monica's. 

That night we rocked out ourselves to English Beat at the Wonder Bar. The small venue was perfect for my partner who hates crowds. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cafe Volan, 2013

As you can tell from our last post, we simply adore Asbury Park. A year ago, in the midst of unemployment I reserved my grandmother's beach house in Destin, Florida, Averitt's Favorite, for a week in July. By hell or high-water I knew we would have jobs and celebrate at the beach a year later. But when we thought of taking the trip there, planes, trains, and automobiles, it just didn't sound all that relaxing. While scrolling "The Book" one night I saw this post on Cafe Volan's FaceBook page. I looked up and said, "Babe, let's go to Asbury Park and skip Destin." Sounds crazy, but it was by far the best decision. E. just hugged me and sighed with great relief. I knew right away we had to contact the B&B. 

We have mad barista love for Paul and Doug who own this fabulous coffee shop just blocks from the B&B and are thankful for that FB post that triggered the memories we had a few years prior. After re-reading my post from our trip, I recalled that we were there just one week after the guys opened. Paul said we were their first big fans after their immediate family. We have kept up via Instagram...which is weird but wonderful in its own way. I share. I share a lot. But I do think of taking photos as "paying attention" and that it's a form of an extension of church. Paul is a great photographer. Follow him at @cafevolan

Someone put these photos of Paul up on the wall. But the end of the week there was only one left. I don't think we are his only fans.

E. is the one that drags brings me to coffee shops all over this great land. Our coffee pilgrimages are legendary. I have grown such an appreciation for latte art, nice baristas and light and airy spaces walking by My Charlie's side. Cafe Volan is truly the perfect combination of all of the above. I've said it before but the AP feels like a mini Hampden on the beach. The space felt smaller to me this time. More storage units have been added and the cork board warmed up the front door area. Their surf boards are still parked at the ready to shred at a moments swell. They sell cold brew coffee in bottles in the shop and on the boardwalk. On Sunday morning, E went to the train station to pick up our pals who came to visit from Harlem. As he was leaving there were two guys with writers note pads and one with a nice camera. I told E before he left that I bet they were from either the Rolling Stone magazine or the New York Times. Ding, ding, ding! New York Times baby. David Carr was writing a travel piece on the shore after the storm and stopped in for coffee. This isn't the first NYT piece. Check this link for more fun Asbury Park love. 

This precious child was the ambassador of the cafe, saying hi to everyone as he cruised in on his trike. I'm pretty sure the pastries are from Balthazar in New York.  The city is a very cheap $12.00 train ride away.

I finally caught up with Doug on our last day. He asked what we did last summer for vacation. I said, freaked out due to joblessness. It is crazy what can happen in a year and again, we couldn't be happier that we were able to travel. 

I loved getting an iced latte during the heat wave that fit so lovely in my bike cup holder. I'm spoiled fresh by My Charlie. 

It was so nice to be back at the cafe guys! Thanks so much for the barista love. Paul, it was great meeting your mom, sister and brother in the shop. You all really have created such a great space for people to relax and enjoy great, great coffee. It was encouraging to see so many new shops and restaurants in town. We are sending our best wishes to you and all the shops on Bangs for continued success.

Asbury Park Ocean Beach Inn, 2013

We went back to one of our most favorite spots on the East Coast for our summer vacation this year.  Asbury Park is our little piece of Hampden on the shore. This village is filled with the greatest independent shops, restaurants and bookstores just three hours and fifteen minutes away from Baltimore. We were back our first day and ran into people we recognized from two years ago. It's great to see that hurricane Sandy didn't devastate this part of the shore as much as further north. We also felt so overwhelmingly thankful that we were able to come back to this Inn and enjoy such a long break together. Last year at this time we were huddled down, freaked out beyond belief, both of us without jobs. God is good and we continue to thank the Lord for our wild and precious lives!

The B&B where we stay, Asbury Park Ocean Inn, was just as welcoming as before, if not more so. I posted about our anniversary trip two years ago here. Chip and Betsy welcomed us "home" as if we had just been away at college. We got a tour of "our" new room. The guest cottage got an upgrade in the last two years.

The happy pink chair welcomed us back in the living room.

The bath got a much larger sink, counter top and the shower was raised so that a 6'4" brother could get his clean on without having to duck. The bright colors make me want to rip everything out of our house and start fresh. See earlier note about not having jobs a year ago. That is not going to happen for sometime, but a girl can dream.

The bedroom was a HUGE surprise. They took part of the garage and extended the guest cottage to include a queen size bed and lovely bedroom in a whole new addition.

How cute is the little window in the bedroom? There was a great ceiling fan and the whole cottage stayed cool as a cucumber during the heat wave.

The chairs above used to be where the bed was located. They added a great closet with tons of space. The cool skinny sink was so tasteful and a great use of space. The bathroom was bigger with a gorgeous vanity with white quartz countertop. 

Chip and Betsy brought us our tray on the first day with a bottle of wine. It was such a nice welcome and so wonderful to see these dear people.

After our welcome wine break we took my new bike for it's virgin tour to our favorite coffee shop. My sweet Charlie gave me a bike for our 6th anniversary. The sixth anniversary is sugar...good shuga indeed! We rode our bikes together every day of our vacation. Makes my heart purr.

Cafe Volan was the first order of vacation business. We love this place and were welcomed with big hugs from Paul.

We took a 20 mile bike ride BEFORE breakfast on our first morning. We needed the extra exercise.  Betsy's cinnamon muffins were hot out of the oven. 

Homer was sacked out on the sette in almost the same exact spot. This is what we aimed for by the end of the week. Pure relaxation.

The powder room in the main house is so neat with this old blown up post card from Asbury Park.

We were here later in the month than our first trip and the hydrangeas hadn't fully bloomed yet. The garden looked so beautiful with full blooming hastas and big impatiens.

The signature stain glass windows are what inspired the logo. The house was built in the 1880's.

The bikes are complimentary with your stay. I love the color of these beach cruisers.

We were greeted by morning glories on our way to the big house each day. We tried to have breakfast at 8:30 am or 9 just to get the day going.

Besty is the baker. The peach and strawberry muffins were my favorite.

Chip's breakfasts did not disappoint. 

It rained almost every afternoon. We loved getting back from the beach and enjoying our tray of cheese, fruit, nuts and wine with the garden door open. We made sure to turn in our breakfast order before heading out for dinner. The cottage was truly so comfortable and we just couldn't have asked for a more restful week. Every time we go on vacation I think we talk about opening a B&B. It's when you fully relax that you can dream and scheme. Maybe one day.