Family Vacation To Port Aransas

It’s no secret that I love the beach. I just spent six days at the beach with my family. The cast of characters for vacation was my husband, daughter, dad, stepmom, brother and two youngest nephews (12 and 15). We were looking for a relaxed Texas beach where my nephews could get their first beach experience. Although South Padre is indisputably the best Texas beach, it is a long drive so we decided to check out Port Aransas. 

The Digs

We rented a beautiful home on VRBO, ‘The Surf Betty’, because it was close enough to walk everywhere, looked clean and had enough beds for us. The house was gorgeous and truly came with a lot of extras that made our stay much more enjoyable. The owners provided things like beach chairs, an EZ Up tent, bikes, boogie boards, etc. The home also had a pool and grill that we used often. It is in a great location and is a short walk to the beach and restaurants. 


We spent several days just playing at the beach either digging in the sand, trying the boogie boards or trying to surf on rented surf boards. 

One day, we took a dolphin cruise. It was a lot of fun and the dolphins even put on a show for us literally jumping out of the water. I’ll share a full review of the dolphin cruise soon (spoiler alert: I totally recommend them!).


We mostly cooked at the house but my husband and I snuck off for a date at a local place called Stingrays. The drinks were good, there is a large craft beer menu (big deal for my favorite guy) but the food wasn’t that good. The really cool thing about the bar was they had fully functional 1970 and 1977 Corvettes mounted above the bar. The story goes that the guys opening the bar were supposed to sell them to make room but they opted to hoist them out of the way instead. Crazy, right? A full review is coming soon. 

The Beach

The beach at Port Aransas is just okay. They don’t seem to come through and clean up all the gunk that the tide brings in unfortunately. The last day at the beach, the sand and water were completely filthy. We moved down the beach a little and it was cleaner but I had to forego sand in my toes to wear water shoes. 

Bottom Line

I would return to Port Aransas for quicker trips or for a budget beach but it might be worth driving to South Padre if spending several days at the beach. We had a fantastic time as a family, at the end of the day, that’s what matters most for me.

Asking for help

onthetides.pngI know how completely difficult it can be to ask people for help.  The narrative in my head is something like “I’m the type of independent, strong woman who doesn’t need to be the damsel in distress”.  Except that isn’t what it is about at all.  There aren’t enough hours in the day and you can’t possibly be an expert in everything so sooner or later you are going to need to have another human help you.  This blog is sort of an intervention if you are fiercely independent like me.

  1. Get comfortable with the idea of help. It isn’t a sign of weakness, I promise.  One of the biggest things that I had to come to terms with is that other people do things differently than I do.  This makes me sound like a total control freak but I felt like I could do things better or faster so I would do them myself.  As I’ve relinquished control, I’ve realized that people do things differently and that is okay.  As long as the objectives are met, that path to get there isn’t a huge deal.
  2. Find the right person.  Don’t just ask someone that you are comfortable with or someone who is in the vicinity.  Make sure that you ask the person who has the skills or capacity to do whatever you need.
  3. Be clear on expectations.  Remember, the path doesn’t matter as much as the end result.  So be clear to describe in detail what the desired outcome is.
  4. Thank them.  I hope this is completely obvious but make sure that you convey your appreciation.  The bigger then ask, the bigger the thank you.  If someone does a quick favor for me, a written thank you will suffice.  If someone does a bigger favor, I sometimes will give them a token of appreciation (gift certificate, bottle of wine, etc).

Building a healthy relationship with my body

I’m up at 5 am feeling so driven to share something with you. I did something today that I still can’t believe I did. It really took me way out of my comfort zone into a place that is scary and possibly opens me for mockery. I shared a picture of myself on my social media accounts (private and public) in a swimsuit. 

I (like nearly every woman I meet) struggle with body image. I’ve definitely gained a lot of weight over time and I’m truly surprised (or disturbed) how it has snuck up on me. It seems like just yesterday, I was many pounds lighter (but still thought I had weight to lose). The Internet can be such a relentlessly cruel place sometimes. I imagined being ridiculed for my big thighs and untoned arms but it never happened.  In fact, I experienced quite the opposite. People were very positive – liking the image, telling me I looked great, etc. I didn’t share the image with the hope of being complimented or criticized. Instead, I truly wanted to share my moment where I’m so happy and at peace at the beach.  

I’ve been working slowly towards building a healthy relationship with my body. It started out by letting myself be photographed. I’m usually the one behind the camera so this has to be intentional for me. I didn’t want my daughter to wake up one day when I’m gone and not have any pictures of me (this parenting gig will really push your limits) so I specifically hand over the camera to have my husband take pictures of me.

Then I started to actually share those photos. First, I honestly just shared carefully curated images where the images were especially flattering. But eventually, over time, I’ve started to share imperfect images because it’s real. This is my real life: big thighs, big smile, imperfect. 

None of this is intended to mean that I won’t continue to work to lose the extra pounds. I’m aware of the health risks associated with carrying the extra weight, eating a poor diet, and not moving enough. I will strive to be the healthiest version of myself but it is refreshing to be able to embrace my current self. 

I hope that by sharing my experience and talking openly about body image, that I can do my part to destigmatize talking honestly about body image. If you talk to your friends honestly about their relationship with their body, I bet you find that they struggle with the same things. If we start to reclaim our body image, we take a small piece of power back from a society that shows us photoshopped bodies to sell us magic pills to reach some ideal that is completely unrealistic.  

Retro Beach Style

I truly should be packing for the beach but in normal Karmen fashion, I’m on the computer instead.  I have ideas about what I want to pack and that’s half the battle right?  I started to think about how I completely love the glamorous, retro beach style so I’m doing a quick round up of some of my favorite retro beach looks.

Kicking this roundup off with Grace Kelly because … well seriously… look at her.  Flawless, beautiful, timeliness.  She is an absolute knockout in a simple white bikini and red lipstick.


The accessories put this look over the top for me – sunglasses, handkerchief and that amazing red lipstick (note to self: pack red lipstick)


Claire McCardell is completely glamorous but somehow effortless in this playsuit worn with a beret and statement earrings.


Love this simple cotton dress, belted at the waist with the big straw hat.


I don’t really know whats happening in this picture but the swim caps are kinda glam.



Restaurant Review: Whiskey Cake

image4We went to San Antonio last weekend with no real agenda or goals.  We lived in San Antonio for many years before moving to Austin so we avoid any of the normal tourist spots.  On Friday, we just drove into town, checked into the Marriott and went in search of a restaurant.

That restaurant ended up being Whiskey Cake. I’ve seen Whiskey Cake mentioned a lot lately on the interwebs so we decided to check it out.  The restaurant (located at La Cantera) focuses on serving farm to table food and cocktails, primarily sourcing locally.  All good stuff, right?

image1The service we received was outstanding.  Our waitress, Nina Marie,
was friendly and extremely helpful.  She was eager to explain the restaurants concept, suggest drinks and food and even the best ways to eat it.

We tried a few of the craft cocktails and my husband sampled a couple of the local beers that he hadn’t had before.  All of the cocktails were fun and tasty.  They had a good beer selection with other options written on a chalkboard.  True to the name, they had many whiskey options but we didn’t take advantage of them on this trip.  I’m sure this was a disservice to the image2restaurant offerings so maybe another time.

The dishes were all fantastic.  We started with he shishito pepper appetizer.  I’ve had this dish at a few restaurants lately but Whiskey Cakes is absolutely the best version of it.  Cooking the peppers on mesquite gave them a smokey flavor that put that dish over the top.  For our entrees we both ordered a burger.  Again, perhaps a disservice to the restaurant given the expansive menu but we really love brisket burgers so had to order them.  The burgers were very good but not outstanding.  On the side, I ordered the macaroni and cheese because macaroni is a food group in my life.  It was heavenly.  The sauce was absolute perfection – the waitress told us that they make it with three cheese and white wine.  Yumminess.

As for the signature Whiskey Cake, I was stuffed by the end of the meal so took it to go.  When I ate it back at the hotel, I found it to be really decadent but too rich for me to eat more than a couple bites of.

I would definitely recommend Whiskey Cake and will certainly be going back myself.  On my next trip, I may try some of their more signature items (read: whiskey).


What I’m Packing In My Beach Bag


I’m super excited to be headed to our first beach trip of the summer.  This time next week, I’ll be lounging on the beach at Port Aransas (eek!).  Before I go, I wanted to share what I make sure to pack in my beach bag.

  1. A big floppy hat looks completely chic and helps protect you from the sun. It’s a win-win.
  2. You don’t want to be squinting all day, do you? Plus sunglasses are my favorite accessory.
  3. I really love wearing a flowy kimono over my swimsuit as a cover up.  They are light, versatile and come in a ton of amazing patterns.
  4. A huge, brightly colored beach towel is mandatory for a trip to the beach. I’m pretty sure that is in the beach rules.
  5. A bottom of water is a requirement.  Dehydration will definitely ruin your day – drink up.
  6. Seriously don’t go to the beach without sunscreen. I really like this one from Neutragena because it doesn’t feel greasy. Put it on before you go and reapply all day long.
  7. Pick a completely #adorbs tote to carry all of your stuff. Make sure you pick one that is big enough to carry all your goods.

My favorite margarita recipe


I’m really, really picky about my margaritas.  The perfect margarita needs to be this perfect balance between sweet, sour with a hint of tequila taste.  I find that a lot of people really over complicate the drink and throw the balance off.  This is exactly how I like to make my margaritas of that balance that I’m looking for:

1/2 ounce agave nectar

1/2 water

2 ounces good quality, clear tequila ( like Patron, Don Julio, Jimador or Corazon)

1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

In a small bowl, stir the water and agave together.  Put all ingredients in a shaker with ice then strain into a glass.  Enjoy (but not too many).