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  • Charlsie Pecoraro

So long 2022! Check out some of my favorites I discovered over the past twelve months!

I wanted to take a few minutes to recap some of my favorite things I discovered in 2022. I hope you will enjoy and benefit from some of my discoveries.

Yellow Rose from Belligrath's Rose Garden

Earlier in the year I participated in Visit Mobile's Ambassador Training Certification. The course enlightened me to the city's rich history. This was truly one of my favorite experiences. It also inspired me to visit local attractions. I want to share my favorite provincial interests with you. An added bonus is that I met some wonderful people!

Belligrath Gardens & Home tops my list for regional sites to visit on the Gulf Coast. The property is a former Fowl River fishing camp that Walter & Bessie Belligrath transformed into one of America's most beautiful gardens.

The couple was inspired to create the gardens after touring Europe in 1927. Upon their return to Mobile, they hired architect George B Rogers to transform the plot into a beautiful landscape.

On April 6, 1932 the Belligraths place an ad in the Mobile Register inviting the public to view their gardens. The following afternoon, 4,700 people showed up, creating the worst traffic jam in the history of the area. This incredible response spurred the owners to open the home every spring for public viewing and that is how it's tourism life began, Click here for membership information.

More Local Attractions to Visit!


USS Alabama Battleship Park - This is a close "second" to Bellingrath. The Battleship Park is a deep dive into military history. The spacious grounds and buildings are filled with friendly staff ready to guide you through the park. I visited on a day when there was a "live enactment" and it was so much fun! Visit the website to see when these interactive days are scheduled in 2023.

Mobile Museum of Art offers three floors of beautiful art to explore. Children will love the area designated just for them. Mobile County residents can visit the facility for free every Thursday! Be sure to allow time to walk the outside gardens brimming with an outstanding collection of metal art. Click here for more.


For nature lovers, Langan Park is a 720 acre municipal property and home to MMOA mentioned above. The Mobile Botanical Gardens are also a part of this huge development. Insider tip: Their spring plant sale offers some of the best tomato plants I have every planted. Membership is very affordable and allows access to this dog friendly area. Click here for more information.


If you love antiques and older homes, Mobile has incredible places for you to tour. I enjoyed my visit to Fort Conde Inn and would suggest that anyone looking for a southern experience, book a stay at this historic boutique hotel. I encourage folks to explore their hometowns like a visitor would. It may surprise you what you discover.

 

Local Eateries!

Lentil Soup at 7 Spice Grocery & Grill

For three years I passed by 7 Spice Grocery & Grill on Airport Blvd. thinking it was "only" a Mediterranean grocery store. Fortunately, friends told me about the restaurant tucked in the back half of the property. Wow! I have been a frequent fan for the past 4 years. The Lentil Soup inspired me to learn to cook a similar version at home. Click here to watch my recipe for this healthy and tasty soup. The gyros and moussaka are some of the best that I have ever had. I tend to shop the grocery section when I visit to pick up spices and of course authentic red lentils. This is a hidden gem in Mobile.


Debris Sandwich at Debris Po-Boys & Drinks

Hello hometown cooking! Debris Po-Boys & Drinks is definitely paying homage to my husband's birthplace, New Orleans. The handhelds are served on authentic Reising French bread and that makes a total difference in the taste. I appreciate that Zapp's potato chips accompany the sandwiches. This Louisiana brand is a favorite in our home. This has become our destination eating spot after the monthly LODA Artwalk and we've never been disappointed.


Another downtown location that wowed us for a burger is Squid Ink Eclectic Eats and Drinks. I certainly suggest you stop in and try one! There are many things I want to sample on this unique menu!


Cream of Wheat Cake at Osman's Restaurant

Osman's Restaurant wins once again for my top fine dining location. It has gotten so popular that it takes weeks to secure a table. Be sure to save room for one of Mickey's European influenced desserts. The Bosnian Cream of Wheat Cake (pictured) is my all time favorite!

Chef Osman is famous for his Schnitzel, just make sure you don't eat much prior to dinner! Portions are very generous and the prices are fair. I suggest you try the Catch of the Day prepared one of three ways offered on the menu.

There is a fantastic wine collection and a full bar to satisfy your adult libation needs! If you have never ventured to the Halls Mill Road location, put this on your list for 2023. You can thank me later!



 


Cooking at Home!

I cooked a great deal over 2022 for family and friends. Cooking is a hobby for me and I relish the creative aspect of it. I decided to record videos of some of my favorite recipes. You can find all of them on my YouTube channel by clicking here. I have included some of the episodes that I have on repeat in my kitchen! Happy Cooking in 2023!


Can you believe that I made a big pot of Red Beans & Rice on Christmas Eve? That should tell you just how great this recipe is. I studied old videos of Chef Paul Prudhomme and used his wealth of experience to create this authentic Louisiana style dish. Full disclosure...I watched my own video while cooking this holiday meal to make certain I didn't leave anything out!



Lately, I've noticed a loaf of French bread showing up in my kitchen under the guise of making sandwiches. I believe it is a not too subtle hint to make this dessert. After a few days, the best remedy for stale bread is this Bread Pudding recipe. I've baked it several times over the past few weeks (it is SO easy) and served it to family & friends! Its popularity on YouTube has amazed me! Give it a try!


My Crab & Avocado Salad is a showstopper for dinner parties and is a great light lunch option. This simple to make starter is one that I create on a regular basis. Notice I used the term create! It does require some assembly! I also enjoy making my own Caesar Salads with homemade dressing & croutons. The level of flavor acheived when you start something from scratch is unmatched with off the shelf toppings.


I plan to continue cooking often in 2023 and adding new videos weekly to the "how to" section. It brings me so much joy to know that many of you are cooking along with me! My goal is to take the mystery out of preparing wonderful meals for your family. Thank you so much for subscribing! There were plenty of other tried and true concoctions that I wanted to include on this list, however I must move on to my next Favorites category!

 

Books & Authors

Sometimes I feel like I was born with a book in my hand. Reading allows me to enter into the imagination of another or learn how to do something better or to further my personal education. I read at least 40 books over 2022 and wanted to share a few stand outs.


Jen Sincero's series approaches self improvement with a heavy dose of humor. I've blogged about her before and truly would like to be her next door neighbor. If you have any self doubt, these books will motivate you to be your best self. Her new book, Badass Habits is on my list of books to read in 2023.


Along those same lines, I am finishing up Rachel Hollis's book, Girl, Stop Apologizing. I can see why she has garnered a following among female entrepreneurs.


Anita Moorjani's New York Times bestseller, Dying to Be Me, was published a decade ago, however 2022 was the year that I finally read it. WOW! This is the book you need to read if you are facing a health crisis. This is the book you need to gift someone afflicted with cancer. This is the book everyone needs to read.


I do venture outside the self improvement category into history. I enjoyed Huston Smith's Illustrated Guide to World's Religions. It broadened my knowledge of the origin of religious practices throughout the world. I also dive into art books, photography and design themes.


Yes, I do read for fun! Fiction books are the great escape for me. I have always enjoyed Agatha Christie mysteries and will reread my favorites throughout the year. Passenger to Frankfurt has become my new Agatha addiction and I know I'll be reading it again. There is a reason she is known as the Queen of Mystery.


Author Simon Brett, has a cast of characters and oodles of entertaining mysteries to explore. I discovered his work quite by accident and have enjoyed his Feathering Mystery series.


January 22, 2022 marked the end of author and world speaker, Thich Nhat Hanh's, journey on this planet. This love-filled Buddhist monk has touched the lives of millions including my own. His simple but powerful messages resonate with so many and create a shift in one's outlook on life. He is known as the father of mindfulness. I am reading At Home in the World and learning new things every day. I will read several of his 100 books in 2023. Living Buddha, Living Christ was one of my favorites and I intend to read it again soon.

When you are a truly happy Christian, you are also a Buddhist. And vice versa.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh


Do I buy every book I read? Sadly no. I don't have the shelf space for an infinite number of books. I am a regular at the local library. I do order directly from author's sites and Amazon. I also load up on selections from www.secondsale.com. This is a great resource for popular items. I do download to my e-reader however I really prefer to hold books in my hand. Just call me old-fashioned!

 

Self Care Favorites

An important part of being the best version of yourself is learning how to take care of your body, mind and soul. I have found a few practices or habits that kept me happy and enthusiastic in 2022.



  • Daily Dog Walks with these characters. Getting outdoors with them really resets my brain.

  • 3-Minute Meditation every morning. Anyone can sit quietly with zero distractions for 3 minutes. You would not believe the inspiration I get from this little habit.

  • Reading daily

  • Weight lifting. Thanks to my friend, Darla Lindsey, I am back to training 5 days a week. Wow, what a difference it makes in how I feel.

  • Frequent Date nights with my guy. There is nothing like getting dolled up and going out for a great meal.

  • Yoga with Adrienne - go check out this phenomenal instructor by clicking here.

  • Monthly pleasures like facials and/or mani/pedi's.

  • Valuing my time! I say "no" to things that don't fit into my personal goals.

  • Valuing my skill set and charging a fair price for my services.

  • Finding Fun Daily! I have a picture on desk of myself at the age of 5. I ask that young version of me what she would like to do today for fun! This surprising habit has lead me to enjoy some of the best times of my life.

I am not a big advocate of setting New Year's Resolutions. I'd rather see you identify your top 10 goals in life and then pick one to go after with gusto in 2023. Goals are dreams with boots on! (Rachel Hollis) If you are going to set some intentions for the upcoming year, make sure you can measure your progress. If you want to be healthier add a few minutes to your daily dog walk until you build up to a couple of miles! Drink more water and keep count of it! Simple steps lead to long lasting habits!

 

Favorite Gift

My husband and I decided long ago to forego the typical holiday gift giving stress that many of you may be in recovery from. Instead, we gift all year long. If we do buy something special around the holidays, we give it immediately to one another to enjoy. This year, we both gave one another notes. I had no idea he was hiding these little bitty cards all over the place. He didn't know that I was doing something similar. His cards are filled with experiences for the two of us to share. Picnics, beach trips, out of town adventures and more are in store for us this upcoming year! Needless to say, I LOVE looking forward to 2023 filled with adventure!

 

What's in Store for 2023 on The Local Vibe?

Every week I intend to share my new discoveries. I'll focus on local boss partners with a deep dive into what makes their business special. In addition, I'll "drag" you into my kitchen to create some delicious meals & desserts for your family. I'll also venture out and show you some of the regional attractions, especially as the weather begins to warm up.


I want to share my love of books with all of you and will be detailing my latest finds and suggestions. If I uncover any great self-care services or techniques, I'll be sure to share them here! This is going to be 52 weeks of fun and I can hardly wait to get started! ~ Charlsie

 






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