Southern Fried Okra

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         Hands down one of my favorite southern staples, fried okra. There really is no vegetable that I don’t enjoy eating, but once you fry said vegetable…it’s almost an addiction.

          That being said, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect recipe for quite some time. I’ve tried a multitude of recipes from cookbooks, Pinterest, friends…but nothing was adding up to me. To me, fried okra needs to have a good crispy outside that has a little kick in the batter. At last, I believe I have perfected a recipe that embodies everything I’ve been looking for.

 Ingredients:

 1-2 lbs. fresh okra

2 cups corn meal

1 cup flour

2 tbsp.  paprika

1 tbsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. fresh ground pepper

3 cups butter milk

 First thing you need to do to make your fried okra is wash and dry your okra well.

Then cut into 1-2 inch pieces. (Whichever you prefer.)

Put all of your cut up pieces of okra in a large mixing bowl. Then, pour 3 cups of buttermilk over the okra, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Right before you take your okra out of the refrigerator, go ahead and make your dry mixture. In a separate mixing bowl you’ll need to combine the corn meal, flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix them together well.

Now it’s time to prep your oil! Whenever I fry anything I like to use my cast iron skillet and vegetable oil. I fill the skillet 2/3 full of oil and then set my burner to medium high.

While you’re waiting for your oil to start bubbling, go ahead and toss your wet okra in the dry mixture. Make sure to get it evenly coated!

 Once your oil is ready, put your first batch in the skillet. Leave the okra in the oil for 6-7 minutes or until fried to golden brown.

 Once I pull okra out of the skillet I usually place it in a bowl with a drying rack or paper towels to get rid of the excess oil. Then I add a little bit of extra salt.

Repeat until you fry up all the okra, and enjoy!

 FYI if you haven’t tried dipping fried okra in ranch you haven’t been living…

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Greenville Staycation

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Whether it’s time, money, or a special occasion-life doesn’t always allow you to escape on your dream, exotic vacation. While Hawaii, New York, or a cruise all sound like ideal location for a relaxing getaway, sometimes if you look in your own back yard you can find all the relaxation you need. A ‘staycation’ is the perfect plan for anyone looking for some fun and freedom from the everyday workweek.

Living in Greenville, I sometimes take for granted some of the amazing things that make Greenville so appealing to everyone that visits. So, for my birthday weekend a staycation was exactly what the doctor ordered! Rather than traveling out of town, I decided to spend some time re-exploring this city that I love so much.

Where I stayed

         While I live in Greenville County, I don’t live in the most accessible part of the city. So, having a staycation is the perfect chance to get to experience Greenville from a completely different perspective.

When I think of staying in a hotel in Greenville, there is only one hotel that comes to mind; The Westin Poinsett. It is the epitome of sophistication and relaxation and everything you are wanting in a hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, it is the prime spot for a weekend getaway.

The amenities offered to guests are as far and wide as your needs require. An easily accessible parking garage, transportation around downtown, restaurant & lounge, gym…you name it and they have it! Not to mention the staff is so warm and welcoming from the moment you walk in to the second you check out. There is absolutely no other place I would have wanted to rest my bags during my staycation, then the Westin.

Where I ate

         Greenville’s variety of cuisine is hands down one of my absolute favorite things about the city. Just when I think the food can’t get any better, here comes a new restaurant that blows me away. During my staycation I went to some of my go-to spots downtown.

Gringos– To cater to all my Mexican cravings, Gringos is the place to go. Amazing food, the best drinks, and such a relaxed environment. Gringos is the kind of place where you can go with friends after work, and end up sitting on the porch for hours just hanging out. Plus…they have one of the best happy hours in all of downtown, and who doesn’t love $3 queso?

Sidewall– This is not your every day, ordinary pizzeria. Sidewall has such a unique variety of pies to choose from, my absolute FAVORITE is their spicy Italian-if you enjoy spicy food this is the pizza your taste buds have been waiting on. Aside from their delicious, fresh made pizza they also have homemade ice cream that is made daily…just saying.

Diner 24– Even though this diner has only been open a few short months, it has already become one a downtown hotpot. Tons of classic diner favorites like meatloaf, burgers, and French toast are offered all day long. That’s right, this diner is open 24 hours; hence the name Diner 24! This kind of joint is exactly what Greenville has needed and it the perfect place for everyone to get their grub on!

What I did

         There’s SO much fun stuff to do in Greenville- everything from breweries, to boutique bowling alleys, shopping, the zoo…seriously the list goes on and on! In planning my staycation, I definitely wanted to do something fun and different, but also relaxing! I decided to do two very different, but both very exciting things!

AO-The Space– If there is anyone out there who genuinely does not enjoy being pampered, they haven’t been going to the right places! Located right outside downtown Greenville is a day spa with vibrant workers and nothing but the best service. Even though the Space has only been around for a little over a year, it is continuing to grow rapidly into Greenville’s one stop shop, spa! They currently offer hair salon services, a variety of massages, facials, spray tans, and lash extensions. Within the next few months they will offer manicures and pedicures as well sell their own distilled essential oils, says owner Jessica Kelley. An all woman owned and operated spa, selling and serving only the best organic products really makes the Space stand out amongst all the other spas. While on my staycation I was able to get good and relaxed enjoying one of the spas newest services, a hydrodermabrasion facial!

Jack N’ Diane’s–         Greenville’s one and only dueling piano bar! If you have never been to a dueling piano bar you have seriously been missing out on a whole lot of fun! Not only is it great live music, but it is the perfect spot to go for a special occasion! They are constantly engaging with the crowd and providing the best combo of entertainment and comedy with their shows. During my staycation it was actually their four-year anniversary of being in Greenville, so there were lots prizes and laughs for everyone!

TD Saturday Market– If only the Saturday farmer’s market could be open year round…my life would be so much better. This amazing farmer’s market is located right on Main Street and operates from May-October. Here you can find everything from produce, fresh fish, beauty products, and even some breakfast from some great local venders. Of course I love to get produce there, but a few of my favorite things there include the pepperoni bread from Great Harvest, salted caramel iced latte from West End coffee, and the frittata of the day from Soby’s.

Spending my birthday weekend re-exploring this city that I love was exactly what I needed. The chance to relax, eat some good food, and have fun with my friends was the best present I could have received. So, the next time you’re looking to get away…look no further than where you already are! You never know what new experiences lay ahead!


Summer Road trip

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Seven states, six days, two girls.

That was the premise of my best friend I’s little road trip to visit some of our friends this summer Basically we were going from Greenville, SC to Nashville, TN to Auburn, AL, to Fairhope, AL to New Orleans, LA…and back.

Planning this road trip out we realize we weren’t taking necessarily an easy path by going more northern then driving farther down south and back up. However, visiting friends for different reasons just so happened to all work out that week so rather than rescheduling separate road trips another time we just decided to combine them all in one!

So naturally, I grabbed my headscarf and was ready to channel my inner Romy and Michele/Crossroads persona. Packing clothes for this trip was a struggle to say the least. I clearly didn’t want to be lugging around a 40lb suitcase to every place we were staying…but a girl needs to have options. I tried to pack a good combination of basics and fun pieces that I could interchange with one another throughout the trip, but traveling with your best friend and her suitcase also came in handy throughout outfit changes too.

Suitcases packed to the brim, snacks and drinks to last us through a small snowstorm, and a tank full of gas started us on our journey. Rather than giving you a play by play of every little detail, I’m gonna give some highlights of each place we stayed, what we did there, and where we ate.

First stop…. Nashville.

         One of our good friends had just moved to Franklin, TN (right outside Nashville) the week of our road trip. Moving five hours away from home definitely calls for celebration in your new city! This wasn’t our first trip to Nashville or Franklin, so while there we did some of our favorite things as well as tried some new things! Here are some of our favorite stops while in Nashville…

Hattie B’s- Nashville hot chicken at its finest. This was actually my first experience eating true Nashville hot chicken and I LOVED it! I actually got the medium and it tasted like great fried chicken with a kick, so I think I definitely could have bumped it to the hot. (Better safe than sorry, right?) So basically what you do at Hattie B’s is wait in line to order and then you’ll order based off of what type of meat you want. I ordered the small white which includes a breast and wing and each meal comes with 2 sides, bread, and a pickle. I got the fries and cole slaw and both were amazing! The line can be overwhelming; so a little tip-you can call your order in and pick it up without having to wait in the line!

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Pinewood Social- Whoever thought of building a place that has a bowling alley + swimming pool + coffee shop + bar + restaurant is simply a genius. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to partake in any of the fun activities while at Pinewood but I did eat probably one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten in my life while there. Hands down Pinewood Social has the coolest ambiance of almost any place I have been. It truly is a place to go and socialize with friends both old and new!

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Acme- Classic Broadway bar with the absolute BEST view of Nashville. This multi-story bar has a little bit of something for everyone! Live music on one floor, swanky couches and dim lighting on another, and a gorgeous rooftop!

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 Next stop…Auburn.

         Okay, so Auburn definitely isn’t unfamiliar territory for us. Those of you that know me know that my friend that I was traveling with, Taylor, lived in Auburn for two years, our other friend and her husband attended Auburn University, and my boyfriend is from Auburn. In terms of our road trip, Auburn was more or less a stop along the way so we wouldn’t be driving forever. It actually worked out perfectly in our plan because my boyfriend was home visiting friends and family while we were driving through so we got to stay with his family. Even though we just stopped by for the night, I still got to fit in a few of my favorite places while there. (Don’t judge the amount of restaurants that are on this list for a 24-hour stay…midnight snacks are a real thing.)

Arigato– My favorite place to grab sushi whenever I’m in Auburn! The thing that is so funny, but also awesome about Arigato’s is that it’s basically happy hour everyday because all of their sushi is always half priced!

Sky Bar– Anytime anyone asks me what to do in Auburn I ALWAYS tell them Sky Bar! Sky Bar is practically as much a landmark as the trees are. While it can get pretty packed out during game day weekends, it’s just like any other bar during the week. They always have their first floor open, which you can listen to live music, watch the game, or play trivia at. Then they have a back section where the big dance floor is, and then a rooftop overlooking downtown Auburn!

Momma Goldberg’s– Another Auburn classic. Sub-style sandwiches, soups, salads, and nachos. My go-to meal: Momma’s Love all the way + Momma’s Nachos with cool ranch Doritos.

 Crepe Myrtle-I only discovered Crepe Myrtle a few months ago but I’m obsessed with everything about it. The place is part produce stand-part bakery/deli. It has the cutest décor and such great, fresh food! I’ve gotten a few different crepes when I’ve gone and have loved everything I’ve ever got! Their fresh squeezed orange juice that they can in mason jars is a MUST…and if you get to eat outside you’ll get a friendly visit from some of the chickens!

 Next stop…Fairhope.

          Never heard of Fairhope, Alabama? That’s okay because I hadn’t either before our friend, Brittany, and her husband moved there a little over a year ago. Fairhope is located about thirty miles away from Mobile, Alabama and the Gulf Shores. That being said there are TONS of amazing things to eat, do, and explore in Fairhope and the surrounding area. During this particular trip we traveled to a place I had been dying to go to in a neighboring town and got to experience something new in Fairhope for breakfast!

Lambert’s Cafe– I’m pretty sure I died and was reborn on my first visit to Lambert’s, home of the throwed rolls. I’ve seen Lambert’s on a number of food network shows so when I figured out that there was one thirty miles away from where Brittany lived I absolutely had to go. Not gonna lie the wait was long…like two hours long…but it was totally worth it. The deal with Lambert’s goes way beyond them throwing rolls at you. Whatever entrée you order you get to pick 2 sides + there are 5 different “pass around” sides that they continually bring around and give you as much as you want. When I say that I ate chicken fried steak + mashed potatoes and gravy + creamed corn + turnip greens + steamed cabbage + fried okra + black eyed peas + roll (s) with molasses and honey…I AM NOT EXAGGERATING. It was magical and miserable all at once, and yes I waddled out holding an enormous to-go box.

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Warehouse Bakery and Donuts- The cutest breakfast spot with literally something for everyone. Coffee, breakfast bowls, pastries, pies, biscuits…you want it, chances are they have it. Fun fact: Allison Williams ate there while filming Get Out.

 Last stop…New Orleans

         Ah the Big Easy….a place known for it’s intriguing culture, addictive food, and a good time. I’ve been to NOLA one other time, but this was my first time being able to actually spend the night there. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans you know as well as I do that you can visit this city ten times over and still not skim the surface of everything this city has to over. We tried our best this trip to try to explore more of the city and do a few new things…but some things in New Orleans you just have to do each time. (I’m talking to you, beignets.)

 

Harrah’s– Okay, so before this trip the only gambling I had done was buying a one dollar scratch off from the gas station. Going to a casino for the first time was very exciting, but after advice from friends I went in knowing I was not going to spend more than $20….and I lost all $20. All the same, it was SO fun and something a little bit different than the same old same old!

Hotel Monteleone (Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge)– Okay this place was seriously SO unique! The entire bar is a carousel that takes about 10 minutes to make one full rotation. Other than the carousel, the whole piano bar area is so swanky and Sauvé, and just classic NOLA.

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W.I.N.O.– A quant self-serve wine bar. They have an enormous selection of automated machines that you use your “tasting card” to select the amount you want and pour. Try a little of this, and then a little of that! They also offer a light menu of tapas!

Café Du Monde- I’ve written about getting beignets from here before, but I will say it again; the ONLY place to get your beignet and café au lait fix.

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Ritz Carlton- I’ve been to a Ritz Carlton to eat before, but never have I ever had the pleasure of staying in one myself before this trip. The Ritz Carlton in New Orleans exceeded my expectations by a million miles. The service was impeccable and the hotel is walking distance of everything in the French Quarter! Definitely recommend the splurge for your next trip!

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Going on this road trip was both exhausting and exhilarating. Staying in different cities and a different bed for only a night or two can be super tiring on oneself, but traveling with one of my best friends to visit some of our other best friends really does bring people closer together. We belted some of our favorite musicals, listened to the entire S-Town podcast (if you haven’t, you HAVE to listen to it), and honestly just talked. I honestly feel like going on a road trip even if it’s a short one is something everyone needs to experience at least once.

 

 

 

 

 


Mexican Stuffed Peppers

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I’m pretty much a sucker for any food with a Mexican flare to it. That being said, when I first started doing meal preps for lunch at work I tried out several different recipes and stuffed peppers have hands down been one of my go-to. One thing that I love about stuffed peppers is that you can substitute/take away/add to them as you see fit. For this particular recipe I use turkey meat instead of ground beef and black beans instead of pintos. I chose these for a slightly healthier version, I usually do the same when I make tacos. Now I do use brown rice but you could use couscous, Mexican rice, white rice, or no rice at all. Once you make stuffed peppers once or twice you can get a better feel for what you like best in yours.

What you’ll need…

For the Peppers: 

1 lb ground turkey

6 medium sized peppers (green or multi-colored)

1 cup of Mexican cheese

1 cup of brown rice

1 cup black beans

1 cup yellow corn

Taco or fajita seasoning

Toppings: 

Sour cream

Salsa

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 425. While the oven is preheating go ahead and cook your turkey in a medium sized frying pan, mixing in the seasoning to your liking. While the turkey is still simmering cook your rice, black beans, and corn.

Wash each pepper thoroughly,  then cut the tops off of all six peppers and clean the inside of them. Stuff each pepper about 1/2 way with your cooked ground turkey. Then layer a spoonful of rice, beans, and corn all the way to the top of each pepper.

Place the stuffed peppers on a large baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remember, your meat is already cooked so now you’re mainly just baking the peppers.

After 12 minutes, take the peppers out of the over and turn oven temperature to broil. Place cheese atop each pepper and then put the peppers back in the oven until cheese is brown. (About 2-3 minutes)

Let peppers cool for a few minutes and then when you’re ready to eat one, top with salsa and sour cream!

Bon Appétit!


Savvy Travel Tips

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Being an elementary school teacher who is pretty early in their career, I’m far from rolling in the dough. Budgeting has become a big reality and makes you really evaluate what you’re investing your money in.  I think I have a pretty good balance of paying bills, gas, groceries, and having some fun money. That being said, traveling all the time can be pretty pricey, but I’ve rounded up some of my best travel tips to help you save some serious cash money.

Stay Where You Can

         I don’t necessarily mean stay in the half star Motel 7, but don’t think you have to be right there spending two hundred bucks a night somewhere either. One of the best parts of having friends spread out at different places around the country means having a place to stay when you want to visit! One of my best friends lives right on the Gulf Coast, less than two hours from New Orleans. No, I can’t walk to my hotel from Bourbon Street, but two hours is perfect for a trip! Call up old friends or relatives for a place to stay, I mean most people have a guest room for a reason. But, if you seriously don’t have anyone to stay with near a place you would like to visit I suggest trying Air BnB. I’ve used Air BnB a dozen times and only had one experience that was less than amazing. Overall I think Air BnB is so much cheaper if you want to be at a certain location when traveling.

Pack Smart

         I am a lady who loves to have choices when packing for a trip. I have always been an over packer and had a dress for that and the perfect shoes for that. However after college when I started traveling more and more with friends, I’ve discovered that I’m typically the one having to lug all the bags in and out and up a flight of stairs. With that being said, I’ve discovered the art of consolidating. Rather than packing 7 pairs of shoes I now pack 1 pair that is dressy and 1 pair that is more casual. I might only pack a single pair of jeans and a variety of tops that go with them. Now of course this differs depending on where I’m going and what I’ll be doing but I definitely don’t pack my whole closet anymore. Plus I try to only bring one bag; all my toiletries, clothes, makeup, and shoes usually fit in my large suitcase. This makes car rides and packing up so much easier by only having one bag to worry about.

Pinterest

          Pinterest isn’t just a place for cute clothes and recipes. It’s a great network to plan and share ideas for a trip too! Especially if you’re going on a trip to a place you haven’t been on, starting a Pinterest board can be so beneficial! You can look up local restaurants, the best places for happy hour, tours, free sites to see and things to do, cute picture ideas…the list is endless as to what all you can look up and pin for your trip. Whether you make your board public or private to just the people going on the trip, making a board really cuts down on the whole, “uh…so whadda ya wanna do?” You can already see what everyone else is interested in doing, plus it gets you more excited for the trip!

Something Special

         Ah…souvenirs. Of course you always have pictures and your memories from a trip but if you are anything like me you like something special to remember the trip. Now, rather than picking up something random and different each time I go somewhere, I’ve stuck to getting the same thing; a Christmas ornament! I feel like keeping this little tradition makes me save so much money because I know exactly what I’m looking for and don’t spend money on something random that sits on a shelf collecting dust. Whether it’s an ornament like me or a magnet or a coffee mug, I’ve found that sticking to my same souvenir makes it all the more special.

Balance

         It’s super easy to wanna ‘treat yo self’ everywhere you go when you travel. I mean even if it’s just for the weekend, to me travel=vacation and vacation=a time to relax and spoil yourself. However, as I stated earlier, living on that teacher budget doesn’t always grant me everything I want. With that in mind I definitely try to keep some balance of going out when traveling. A lot of time I’ll hit up Total Wine and Aldi for some drinks and snacks for a trip. Then whoever I’m traveling with, we have snacks for the trip and can eat breakfast in for at least a day or two and then order pizza or Chinese another night. Going out for lunch over dinner is also a really great savvy tip, same meal but usually saves you a few bucks! I know this sounds pretty calculated, but trust me it really will pay off to pick and choose your wants. Saving $100 on a few meals not only means you’re saving money in general but it also means that you could put that money towards your next trip!

Traveling is not a cheap pastime. Flights, hotels, food, souvenirs…it all costs money. However, if you take the time to look at some of these tips hopefully you can enjoy all the benefits of traveling without breaking the bank! Let me know how you like to save money when traveling, too!


Angel Oak Restaurant

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Everyone is looking for a new, hot restaurant that has fresh ingredients and a great vibe. Angel Oak Restaurant is exactly that and then some. Located right along the Savannah Highway in John’s Island, South Carolina; Angel Oak is the perfect place to get your farm to table fix while on your next vacation.

So, when thinking about what exactly farm to table means I automatically think that the restaurant is buying local produce and meats and incorporating that into their dishes. If you’re really lucky you might even be able to snag a restaurant that has a small garden out back that sources some of their menu. Well, Angel Oak not only has their own garden but also their own farm animals, which are all represented in their menu! Cooking up only the best in-season meals, their menu can change throughout the year highlighting on the best their farm has to offer.

When I was originally taken to Angel Oak Restaurant I was told all about how they were farm to table and that they had, “ the best fried chicken.” Well…as a southern girl I know good fried chicken and I was excited to try it but I was amazed when I dove into that golden goodness. Buttermilk fried chicken fried to a perfect crisp and then drizzled with herb honey, and if that doesn’t get your mouth drooling the actual meat itself was the juiciest and freshest chicken I’ve ever tasted. Pair that with fresh brussel sprouts and macaroni and cheese and your taste buds will be thanking you over and over again the whole ride home.

Okay so besides the actual (phenomenal) meal, every little detail of the restaurant was everything you want. The most darling building adorned with string lights and local art make you feel immediately at home. Once you cozy up at a table or wooden bench you can go ahead and start thinking about cocktail time. Angel Oak does have a pretty full bar with local beers, wine, and liquor but the thing that is so endearing about the restaurant is that the bar is just a small stand in bar where your waiter goes and prepares your drink for you. So no, you can’t go up to a huge wrap-around bar and sit down and order a brew but I love the intimacy of their bar and actually the whole restaurant.

From presentation to taste buds to atmosphere, Angel Oak Restaurant satisfies on every level possible. Despite staying on Edisto Island for my vacation, making the hour-long drive to eat was beyond worth it. The restaurant might look off the beaten path and small in comparison to other ‘well known’ restaurants, but it by far was one of the best meals and experiences I’ve ever had.

 


Fresh Picked Lavender 101

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In the fall you go apple picking, in the summer you go Lavender picking. Okay no, not really. During the summer most people go pick strawberries, blueberries, or basically any type of berry. However, the summer is also the time to pick lavender! Now there aren’t lavender fields in every town but they also aren’t as scarce as one might think. Many regions have lavender festivals and some local places have a ‘U-Pick’ time period. Luckily, there is a lavender farm about ten minutes from my home so when they announced they were hosting another picking event I was ready to buy my ticket!

Many people think lavender is just a great scent for things like perfume, laundry detergent, or lotion. But lavender is so much more than a scent that smells good. The essential oils extracted from lavender are known to have very calming affects on people. Lavender also, surprisingly, tastes really good and refreshing. Drinks, sweets, even meat-it has a great flavor and can be used in so many different ways.

So, with that being said, after you’ve picked your lavender (or bought the pre-picked bundles; no judgment) you might be wondering what the heck to do with it. Well I’ve laid out how to care for your fresh lavender, some arts and crafts ideas, and some of my favorite lavender recipes.

Caring for your lavender

            Basically it comes down to if you want to keep your lavender fresh or if you want to dry it. If you want your lavender fresh you’ll want to keep it in a small amount of water, change the water DAILY, and the lavender should stay fresh for 1-2 weeks. If you’re wanting to dry your lavender (best for crafts and culinary) it’s really quite simple. Your bundle should already be tied in a rubber band. Next step is to hang your bundle upside down in a dark space. Personally, I used my closet and tied a ribbon to the rubber band and tied the ribbon to a hanger towards the bottom of my closet. Since what you’re essentially drying out is the buds, you’ll want to keep a towel under the bundle to catch the buds that fall. After you leave the bundle this way for 10-14 days. Now depending on what exactly you want to do with your lavender will depend on what to do next. If you want to use your lavender for cooking then you will need to gently pick all the buds off and keep them in a brown or dark blue glass container. As long as you keep the buds in the container in a dry/dark place they should be good for 5-10 years! Just put them in a grinder when you plan on using them.

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Arts & Crafts

            One of my favorite seasonal decorations is a good ole wreath. Buying a fancy wreath with all the bells and whistles can be some serious $$$ so I enjoy making my own with what I have/what’s on sale. About a year ago I got a plain vine wreath at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 in October. I had used it as just a plain wreath for Fall-but with all my new lavender…I thought I would fix it up. Personally, I waited until it was dried out before I used it but basically I just took the dried lavender (stems and all) and worked them through the vines of the wreath. Don’t be afraid to be generous, the more lavender you add the better! The great thing about this wreath is that every time I walk in the door I get a big whiff of lavender and it is the perfect way to come home after a long day.

Another super easy craft idea is making sachets out of your lavender. Just take the dry buds off the stems and put them in a cotton drawstring bag. These are so easy to make and really just allow the fragrance from the lavender to keep a space smelling great. These are great for putting in your car, your dresser drawers, or even in your linen closet!

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Recipes

            Everything from sweets to drinks, you name it and there is a lavender recipe for it. Below I’ve listed a variety of some of my favorite lavender recipes to try out!

Lavender Martini

¼ cup Lavender Syrup (listed below)

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 lemon peels

¼ cup of vodka

1/3 cup of champagne

Pour lavender syrup, lemon juice, and vodka in a shaker and shake well. Distribute between two martini glasses. Top each glass with champagne and a lemon peel!

Lavender Simple Syrup: Boil 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and slowly stir in 2 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender buds and 1 small strip of lemon zest. Steep for about twenty minutes and strain the contents into a small container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate!

Chocolate Lavender Brownies

1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds

3 cups sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cups + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder

3 sticks unsalted butter

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Place lavender buds and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a grinder and finely grind the mixture. Put the lavender mixture in a large bowl and add flour, cocoa, salt, espresso/coffee powder, and the remaining sugar. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, soften butter until almost melted. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Make a well opening in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix well using a wooden spoon and add in the nuts if using. Pour mixture into the baking dish and smooth out. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out of the center mostly clean.

 

Lavender Honey Marinade

½ cup honey

¼ cup dried culinary lavender buds (finely ground in a spice grinder)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh tangerine juice

2 tablespoons minced garlic

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl mix together the honey, lavender, vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, tangerine juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

In a gallon sized Ziploc bag, put chicken or shrimp. Pour marinade in Ziploc bag, making sure to push all the air out before closing completely. Make sure the marinade is distributed evenly over the meat, and place refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (The longer you refrigerate, the more the marinade will be absorbed into the meat) Remove meat from bag and grill or bake. Pour remaining marinade from bag on top of meat halfway through cooking to ensure extra flavor.

 

 

 

 

 


Jacksonville: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

 

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One part about adulting that I’ve had to get use to is that not all of your friends are going to live within a mile of you for the rest of your life. Relationships, jobs, and schools look different for everyone and people move away. However, having friends live in different places can be exciting! For one, you always have a place to stay when you go visit them. Secondly, you can plan to make time for each other by going on getaways that are new and exciting for both of you!

Hence how our trip to Jacksonville, Florida got planned. With one friend on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, one in Atlanta, and two of us in Greenville we really wanted to go somewhere that would be equidistant for everyone. Once we went through the places we’ve already been and established that we wanted somewhere near the beach we took to Google Maps. Double-checking distances for everyone we discovered that Jacksonville was exactly five hours for everyone! Seems like the perfect plan, or so we thought…

Jacksonville was a very interesting place to say the least. We laughed, we cried, and we definitely left with some stories to tell.

So here it is, Jacksonville: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

The Good

         Gotta look at everything with a little bit of positivity. So to start off, Jacksonville had some really good food! Seafood by the beach, a scrumptious brunch, and every appetizer your heart could ever desire at a sports bar. Pretty much everything we ate lived up to all of our expectations.

Another great thing about Jacksonville is that it’s only a forty-minute drive from St. Augustine. Not knowing what exactly to except from our trip, we decided to just spend one day in St. Augustine. Now despite the scorching heat, St. Augustine was definitely the highlight of the trip. Free winery tour and tasting, phenomenal drinks at gorgeous hotels, and probably one of the top 3 best meals I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Lastly, another pro of our trip to Jacksonville was the location of our Airbnb. Aside from a twenty-minute drive to the beach and the drive to St. Augustine-everything was within a 5-10 minute drive from where we stayed.

 

 

The Bad

         So we took our trip during Memorial Day weekend ready to brace ourselves for the holiday crowd. Nope, not in Jacksonville. I swear, everywhere we went was dead! One of our favorite restaurants that we went to was Kickbacks. The coolest décor, colorful waiter, and fantastic food…but completely dead! We were so confused but everyone kept saying that it was early and everyone would be out later…we were eating dinner at 7:30, how late do these people stay out?

Another bad part about our trip: the heat. Let it be known that unless you are going to Disney World or planning to spend all day on the beach-Florida in late May…no, just no.

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The Ugly

         Ah…the ugly side of our trip to Jacksonville. Why don’t we start with our Airbnb. Yes, it was in a great location…and that’s about it. The running joke all weekend is that we were staying at Florida’s version of Grey Gardens. Complete with overgrown bushes, creepy artwork, and the cockroaches…LIVE cockroaches! Thankfully the owners did spray one day while we were gone and all we really did was sleep there, but even that was a stretch. Word to the wise: before booking your Airbnb double check that there is a picture of the outside of the house.

The I.D. situation was another ugly side of Jacksonville. Well, more annoying than anything, but all the same. After being in Jacksonville for a good five minutes we took to the beach! We had done our research and found that the Lemon Bar was the hot spot for lunch on the beach. Well…it was also the site where we got to argue with two “bouncers” and a manager over how my twenty-four year old friend’s I.D. was ‘100% a fake I.D.’ After a series of “Scan it!” and “Okay, get an officer to confirm it’s real,” the manager allowed her to come in. Now, I will say they had phenomenal coconut shrimp and an amazing Miami Vice, but come on…

And then there was the Trolley/Fountain of Youth tragedy of 2017. The trolley seemed like a great way to see and do everything we wanted to in St. Augustine but that was until we were stranded miles from our car in the Florida heat outside a chocolate shop waiting for our next trolley. There went trolley one, two, three, and even trolley number four. Nobody got off the first four trolleys that went by our stop. FINALLY we were all able to board a trolley and head towards the Fountain of Youth-the main attraction that we wanted to go to. But, oh wait; it was closed early for a wedding! Now, just because it was closed did not mean that we didn’t get to drink from the fountain…but that’s another story for another time.

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Ah Jacksonville, such a unique place to visit. I can’t say that we’ll be back anytime soon but I wouldn’t have wanted to go on this trip with anyone else. That’s the thing about traveling though. You plan where to stay and where to eat but everything isn’t going to be as glamorous as you might have imagined. In fact, sometimes you get screamed at from random women on the street during a photo-shoot that you stole her husband’s clothing designs and that she’s going to come looking for you. But, if you have your friends with you, everything is a memory you can laugh at later…at home and away from the cockroaches.


Chapel Hill

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So, in recent news my boyfriend started a new job in Raleigh, NC working at an engineering company. While he has traveled there many times to visit friends and go to UNC games I had never traveled past Charlotte. With that said, I knew that there was a lot to discover in and around Raleigh. First stop: Chapel Hill.

Both of my boyfriend’s parents attended the University of North Carolina and it was at UNC where they actually met each other and fell in love. So with blue practically running in their blood, I knew long ago that one day I would journey to Chapel Hill and see what exactly made it so special.

Spending an entire day in Tar Heel country and I actually understand why people love it so much. Between the stunning campus and vibrant downtown strip I might just become a basketball fan after all…

Here’s a rundown of everywhere we went and everything we did in a day at Chapel Hill.

  • He’s Not Here Big ole’ cups of beer and home to the infamous Chapel Hill wall. Awesome place to just hang around the back porch with friends around a picnic table or of course watch some basketball by the bar.

 

  • Top of the Hill Super swanky restaurant with a phenomenal rooftop view of downtown Chapel Hill. A wide variety of entrees to choose from plus an awesome afternoon menu with appetizers like Bavarian Pretzels and cheese and fried pickles and jalapenos. Plus they brew their beer in house…need I say anything else?

 

  • University of North Carolina Campus More than just a place for the students, there’s a lot of really unique UNC landmarks like the fountain and the bell tower. Plus, it’s just a really beautiful campus to walk around.

 

  • Four Corners Right along East Franklin Street is Four Corners. Classic Sports Bar complete with burgers, wings, and everything else in between. A great place to sit at the bar for a quick bite and drink. Plus, they have weekday specials!

Pineapple-Mango Salsa

 

 

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With summer quickly approaching I’m eager to break out all of my favorite summer recipes! Getting fresh fruits and veggies from local farmers markets and food stands definitely plays a big role in what I eat throughout the summer months, and this recipe is no exception. Combining one of my favorite food indulgences, chips and salsa, with a fresh fruit twist, this pineapple mango salsa is sure to be something you will want to make over and over again. It’s not a very heavy snack, which makes it perfect for hanging by the pool or just relaxing on your porch enjoying the cool nigh air. Plus, it takes less than twenty minutes to make from scratch, which makes it a double plus in my book.

What you’ll need…

2 cups of diced pineapple

2 cups of diced mango

1 cup of diced jalapeño

1 cup of diced red onion

1 tbs. lime juice

2 tbs. cilantro

 And that’s it.

Once you have your ingredients prepped, mix well together in a large bowl and let chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

 I know that sometimes buying ingredients based off of measurements can be stressful. So, basically what my grocery list consisted of was: one whole pineapple (you don’t need the whole thing, but I wanted to keep the rest as a separate snack. You could just as easily buy it in a can), one mango, two jalapeños, one red onion, one bushel of cilantro, and one lime.

Enjoy!