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Living in Charlotte, we are quite lucky to be so close to the US National Whitewater Center. The USNWC is an outdoor recreation and training facility situated on 700 acres beside the Catawba River. Activities at the USNWC are plentiful: whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, running trails, and hiking. The center serves as an official olympic training center for whitewater slalom racing. They also have zip lines, ropes courses, evening concerts, summer camps... A full activity schedule is available here.

A few weeks ago, I spent an exceedingly enjoyable evening at one of the Center's regular events: Paddle to Table. Paddle to Table is an "Adventure Dining" option. You can choose to flatwater kayak or paddle board followed by a fireside dinner, al fresco. Geneva, Piper, and I joined four other girlfriends and made the outing a very sweet Girls' Night.
Thankfully, we lucked out with the weather and arrived for our departure just after a fairly intense summer storm. Following a short (and slippery) hike, we enjoyed a sunset paddle on the Catawba River with our outstanding guides. The current was mild, the skies had cleared, and the heron were fishing. It was very relaxing.
Dinner followed in the Ridge Pavilion. It was delicious! Chicken Papusas, Braised Red Cabbage, Tomato, and Queso Fresca made up the entree. Dessert was Prickly Pear Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Streusel, and Forest Berry Compote. Yum! 
Adventure Dining continues at the USNWC through September (Paddle to Table) and October (Zipline and Dine). Explore your options here

Queen City | USNWC Paddle to Table

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Living in Charlotte, we are quite lucky to be so close to the US National Whitewater Center. The USNWC is an outdoor recreation and training facility situated on 700 acres beside the Catawba River. Activities at the USNWC are plentiful: whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, mountain biking, running trails, and hiking. The center serves as an official olympic training center for whitewater slalom racing. They also have zip lines, ropes courses, evening concerts, summer camps... A full activity schedule is available here.

A few weeks ago, I spent an exceedingly enjoyable evening at one of the Center's regular events: Paddle to Table. Paddle to Table is an "Adventure Dining" option. You can choose to flatwater kayak or paddle board followed by a fireside dinner, al fresco. Geneva, Piper, and I joined four other girlfriends and made the outing a very sweet Girls' Night.
Thankfully, we lucked out with the weather and arrived for our departure just after a fairly intense summer storm. Following a short (and slippery) hike, we enjoyed a sunset paddle on the Catawba River with our outstanding guides. The current was mild, the skies had cleared, and the heron were fishing. It was very relaxing.
Dinner followed in the Ridge Pavilion. It was delicious! Chicken Papusas, Braised Red Cabbage, Tomato, and Queso Fresca made up the entree. Dessert was Prickly Pear Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Streusel, and Forest Berry Compote. Yum! 
Adventure Dining continues at the USNWC through September (Paddle to Table) and October (Zipline and Dine). Explore your options here
It's been ages (okay 2+ years) since I compiled a list here of the things in my life that are bringing me joy. It is really nice to spend some time and attention considering those (sometimes small, sometimes big) moments, experiences, things, and people who add happiness or positivity to our days--especially in times when there is so much to feel overwhelmed, saddened, and even sickened by.

Even taking the events of our world out of the equation, I think that often, I feel caught up in all of the things to do and places to be that it's easy to miss a lot of the very good stuff. So here's my list today. I hope it's a nice distraction.
  • Geneva's watercolor ~ I took a fun watercolor class earlier this year and have since invested a little to acquire some brushes, paints, and paper to play around with when I find the time. The girls like to paint too and it's a new medium for all of us. In the middle of one of her "practice" pages, Geneva brought this little guy to life and I immediately fell in love. So now he is framed and hangs in the dining room above my great-grandmother's cabinet (something else that brings me joy).

  • The scent of our laundry ~ I was reminded recently about how much I appreciate the smell of our clothes when they come out of the dryer. My sister-in-law visited this summer with my niece and nephews. A few days ago she sent me a text and asked what detergent we use because my nephew liked the way his clothes smelled after washing them here. :) I actually owe my friend, Miffy, all the credit. Many years ago, when we were the joyful recipients of her daughter's hand-me-downs, I asked her what detergent she used because I fell in love with the scent. So here you have it: Arm & Hammer Plus Oxi Clean (Fresh Scent) followed by Bounce (Outdoor Fresh) in the dryer. 
  • Idaho ~ I read this debut novel by Emily Ruskovich for my book club. The story is about loss, grief, redemption, and memory--or lack thereof. At the center of the story is a brutal act of unspeakable violence. The author was somehow able to tell the story with an abundance of grace. It wasn't so much the individual characters, the storyline, or the setting that made me love the book. It was the fact that I continue to think about the writing and the story-telling. However, if you require tidy endings, this one is not for you. 
  • Gearing back up for school ~ Of course I love the summer. I enjoy lazy days, traveling, loose plans, evenings at the pool, and not being tied up in scheduling. However, it's easy to look forward with happy anticipation to the beginning of the school year (especially when my kids do too). I also appreciate routine.  
  • Club Monoco ~ Greg and I happened upon a Club Monoco storefront while visiting Charleston a few weeks ago. The skirt in the window caught my eye and we needed a reprieve from the heat of the day so we popped inside to discover an excellent "Summer Sale" and lots of great styles. He found a few shirts and I scored several tops, the skirt from the window, and a fun fringed bracelet. Unfortunately, there are no storefronts near Charlotte; however, I do have my eye on this from the website. I think it would be great with black slacks and fun heels or distressed jeans and booties. 
  • Cycle South ~ I started going about a year ago. Before that, I would have emphatically reported to you that I loathe spin/cycle classes. They are too intense, too boring, and definitely painful in the wrong way (yes, I mean down there). However, I've been converted. Firstly, the thing everyone says about the pain (yes, I mean down there) getting better after a few classes is true! It does stop hurting. Really. Secondly, Cycle South classes are in the dark. Your workout is yours and while the energy of the room carries you through the intense cardio session, it's an affirmation that "everyone is on their own fitness journey," (as my favorite instructor, Annie, likes to remind us). Also, there are no monitors, screens, or digital readouts in the classes. The workout is based on the music; the beats within the song instruct the tempo of the track --making it more like "dancing" on the bike rather than just sprinting or climbing to reach a number. It's good. If you're in Charlotte, you should try it. 
  • PURE Inventions Water Enhancer ~ I first tasted this water "enhancer" while visiting the spa at the Grove Park Inn. The pitchers of water in and around the relaxation room and locker area tasted subtly of coconut. At first, it was a little off-putting because I was just expecting water with some lemon or cucumber; however, after a few sips, I was enamored. If you're like me, you have a hard time drinking "enough" water throughout the day. I've just never been a big water drinker. Now I add .5ml (half the recommended amount) to 16oz of water and have no problem finishing 64oz in a day. It is a bit pricey, but a little bit goes a long way. Also, this is just a flavor thing for me in trying to consume a healthy amount of water each day. There are other "flavors" available that imply targeted results. I can't speak to any of that. ;) 
  • London Fog tea ~ While we're talking about beverages, I'm also still enjoying the sugar-free version of the "London Fog Latte" I fell in love with in Charleston and blogged about here.
  • Italian Aperitivo Cocktails ~ And while I continue to talk about beverages, the ones I learned to create at the Liberate Your Palate cocktail class (and blogged about here), are definitely worth your attention. With just a few key ingredients, you can make several delicious sips. Campari is an acquired taste --expect bitterness and be delighted by how quickly your appreciation grows. If you're in Charlotte, you can sign up for the same class (August 24th) here. If you miss it, sign up for another one instead --you may see me there!
  • Hip Hop BBQ on Pandora ~ Before my friend Sara introduced me to this station last month, I had apparently been living under a rock --as there are 3M listeners, according to Pandora. Good stuff.
  • Ozark ~ This show on Netflix starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney is engrossing. You can binge watch the first season now and they've just renewed for a second season. Yay!
  • Newspaper-wrapped clippings ~ A friend of mine needed some rosemary from our yard (to create amazing bouquets for a wedding!). I happily cut a bundle and brought it inside. Acting on auto-pilot, I reached for a page from the newspaper and found myself swaddling it like a baby. Smiling, I recalled fond memories of my great-grandmother wrapping fresh cut roses from her garden this way for visitors upon leaving. Often, I cradled her fragrant blooms in my lap on the car ride home and I was so happy to have been reminded of this practice. 

Things I Love Thursday // 8.17.17

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's been ages (okay 2+ years) since I compiled a list here of the things in my life that are bringing me joy. It is really nice to spend some time and attention considering those (sometimes small, sometimes big) moments, experiences, things, and people who add happiness or positivity to our days--especially in times when there is so much to feel overwhelmed, saddened, and even sickened by.

Even taking the events of our world out of the equation, I think that often, I feel caught up in all of the things to do and places to be that it's easy to miss a lot of the very good stuff. So here's my list today. I hope it's a nice distraction.
  • Geneva's watercolor ~ I took a fun watercolor class earlier this year and have since invested a little to acquire some brushes, paints, and paper to play around with when I find the time. The girls like to paint too and it's a new medium for all of us. In the middle of one of her "practice" pages, Geneva brought this little guy to life and I immediately fell in love. So now he is framed and hangs in the dining room above my great-grandmother's cabinet (something else that brings me joy).

  • The scent of our laundry ~ I was reminded recently about how much I appreciate the smell of our clothes when they come out of the dryer. My sister-in-law visited this summer with my niece and nephews. A few days ago she sent me a text and asked what detergent we use because my nephew liked the way his clothes smelled after washing them here. :) I actually owe my friend, Miffy, all the credit. Many years ago, when we were the joyful recipients of her daughter's hand-me-downs, I asked her what detergent she used because I fell in love with the scent. So here you have it: Arm & Hammer Plus Oxi Clean (Fresh Scent) followed by Bounce (Outdoor Fresh) in the dryer. 
  • Idaho ~ I read this debut novel by Emily Ruskovich for my book club. The story is about loss, grief, redemption, and memory--or lack thereof. At the center of the story is a brutal act of unspeakable violence. The author was somehow able to tell the story with an abundance of grace. It wasn't so much the individual characters, the storyline, or the setting that made me love the book. It was the fact that I continue to think about the writing and the story-telling. However, if you require tidy endings, this one is not for you. 
  • Gearing back up for school ~ Of course I love the summer. I enjoy lazy days, traveling, loose plans, evenings at the pool, and not being tied up in scheduling. However, it's easy to look forward with happy anticipation to the beginning of the school year (especially when my kids do too). I also appreciate routine.  
  • Club Monoco ~ Greg and I happened upon a Club Monoco storefront while visiting Charleston a few weeks ago. The skirt in the window caught my eye and we needed a reprieve from the heat of the day so we popped inside to discover an excellent "Summer Sale" and lots of great styles. He found a few shirts and I scored several tops, the skirt from the window, and a fun fringed bracelet. Unfortunately, there are no storefronts near Charlotte; however, I do have my eye on this from the website. I think it would be great with black slacks and fun heels or distressed jeans and booties. 
  • Cycle South ~ I started going about a year ago. Before that, I would have emphatically reported to you that I loathe spin/cycle classes. They are too intense, too boring, and definitely painful in the wrong way (yes, I mean down there). However, I've been converted. Firstly, the thing everyone says about the pain (yes, I mean down there) getting better after a few classes is true! It does stop hurting. Really. Secondly, Cycle South classes are in the dark. Your workout is yours and while the energy of the room carries you through the intense cardio session, it's an affirmation that "everyone is on their own fitness journey," (as my favorite instructor, Annie, likes to remind us). Also, there are no monitors, screens, or digital readouts in the classes. The workout is based on the music; the beats within the song instruct the tempo of the track --making it more like "dancing" on the bike rather than just sprinting or climbing to reach a number. It's good. If you're in Charlotte, you should try it. 
  • PURE Inventions Water Enhancer ~ I first tasted this water "enhancer" while visiting the spa at the Grove Park Inn. The pitchers of water in and around the relaxation room and locker area tasted subtly of coconut. At first, it was a little off-putting because I was just expecting water with some lemon or cucumber; however, after a few sips, I was enamored. If you're like me, you have a hard time drinking "enough" water throughout the day. I've just never been a big water drinker. Now I add .5ml (half the recommended amount) to 16oz of water and have no problem finishing 64oz in a day. It is a bit pricey, but a little bit goes a long way. Also, this is just a flavor thing for me in trying to consume a healthy amount of water each day. There are other "flavors" available that imply targeted results. I can't speak to any of that. ;) 
  • London Fog tea ~ While we're talking about beverages, I'm also still enjoying the sugar-free version of the "London Fog Latte" I fell in love with in Charleston and blogged about here.
  • Italian Aperitivo Cocktails ~ And while I continue to talk about beverages, the ones I learned to create at the Liberate Your Palate cocktail class (and blogged about here), are definitely worth your attention. With just a few key ingredients, you can make several delicious sips. Campari is an acquired taste --expect bitterness and be delighted by how quickly your appreciation grows. If you're in Charlotte, you can sign up for the same class (August 24th) here. If you miss it, sign up for another one instead --you may see me there!
  • Hip Hop BBQ on Pandora ~ Before my friend Sara introduced me to this station last month, I had apparently been living under a rock --as there are 3M listeners, according to Pandora. Good stuff.
  • Ozark ~ This show on Netflix starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney is engrossing. You can binge watch the first season now and they've just renewed for a second season. Yay!
  • Newspaper-wrapped clippings ~ A friend of mine needed some rosemary from our yard (to create amazing bouquets for a wedding!). I happily cut a bundle and brought it inside. Acting on auto-pilot, I reached for a page from the newspaper and found myself swaddling it like a baby. Smiling, I recalled fond memories of my great-grandmother wrapping fresh cut roses from her garden this way for visitors upon leaving. Often, I cradled her fragrant blooms in my lap on the car ride home and I was so happy to have been reminded of this practice. 
Charlotte's got a lot.

Lately, I've been doing more to explore the variety of fun social/learning opportunities in our city. Last night I had the pleasure of attending a cocktail class presented by Tamu Curtis and Liberate Your Palate. From their website: "We have a passion for cocktail culture, we live it, love it  and have a burning desire to share it with you." Based on the time I had last night with my friend Anne, this thesis absolutely captured the evening. LYP offers their #ShakeStirSipSocialize classes in addition to cocktail catering. I imagine any event would be elevated with these passionate people on the job.

Our class, "The Italian Aperitivo," was taught and hosted by Jessica Annunziata, who with her husband, Chef Luca Annunziata, own and operate Luca: Modern Italian Kitchen. Jessica's personality, knowledge, and love for food and spirits was a highlight of the evening. The "stuzzichini" (appetizers and nibbles) that were created by Luca to accompany each cocktail were delightful little surprises that made the sips even tastier. 
Aperitivo is northern Italy's version of happy hour that is enjoyed at the end of the workday as a warmup to dinner. People gather at their neighborhood bar or cafe with friends and family to enjoy a light cocktail and a snack. Aperitivo is typically between 7-9pm and dinner follows.

All three aperitivo cocktails we made in our class used traditional ingredients (Campari, Vermouth, and Bitters) balanced with simple modifications to change the resulting flavors. Because of these primary ingredients, the drinks were light on alcohol and bitter on taste, resulting in a beautiful pairing with the sweet and salty nibbles that the kitchen turned out as accompaniments. 

The first cocktail we mixed was a traditional Negroni --a favorite at my house. (If you get a chance to try the Blood Orange version that Luca keeps on their cocktail menu, be sure to indulge! With a tiny scoop of blood orange sorbet, it's not to be missed.) Our Negronis were paired on the front end with local figs, goat cheese, and blackberry jam and rounded out with a ridiculous stuffed squash blossom that was crispy, creamy, salty perfection over some "boozy peaches." I can't recall exactly how Jessica described the peach preparation but the result was incredible on the plate. 
The Negroni
1 oz Doc Porter's Gin
1 oz Campari
2 oz Sweet Vermouth  
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Orange Twist

The next cocktail was called, Negroni Shagliato. While it contained two of the main ingredients from the Negroni, the cocktail turned out to be completely different. It was much less bitter, had a sparkly effervesce, and was surprisingly light despite its deep plum color and sweet notes. This sip was paired with a bruschetta-type bite that consisted of a well-seasoned toast topped with ripe tomato, creamy cannelloni beans, parsley, and garlic. This bite had gusto and with the sweetness of the Shagliato, the pairing was delicious. 
Negroni Shagliato
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Sparkling Wine (Lambrusco)
Directions: Shake Campari, Vermouth and Bitters with ice. Strain into a chilled wine glass or champagne flute. Top with Lambrusco. Garnish with 2 cherries.

Our last cocktail was called, Costar d'alcol. It was the lightest of the three and I felt as though I could sip them all day long (especially in the heat). I also thought it was the prettiest of the three. The garnish (prepared by the kitchen) was certainly a stuzzichini in itself: basil-wrapped watermelon ball alongside prosciutto-wrapped local buffalo milk mozzarella. Seriously. Salty, sweet, creamy, crisp perfection on a stick (and floating on my cocktail). The kitchen also sent out two house-made, fried raviolis on a generous smear of heavily parmesaned marinara. More crunchy, salty, sweetness to swoon over with our sips.
Ciostra d'alcol
2 oz Dry Red Wine (we used Cantina Zaccagnini Rosé Dry Wine)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sparkling Lemonade (we used Cedrata Italian Citron)
Orange slice garnish (Or if you're inspired and motivated: Watermelon, Basil, Mozzarella, Prosciutto)
Directions: Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes. Add wine, Campari and Cedrata. Stir. 

The night was a complete success. Obviously, the company was lovely. :) Our class was an eclectic mix of people of all ages. I loved that the cocktails we made were based on only a few primary ingredients --making it more than likely that those who didn't already have them stocked, would invest in these for their own liquor cabinets or bar carts, thus making it possible to delight friends and family with the new recipes. 

Jessica was incredibly personable, as was Tamu. While Jessica was the "casual expert" in the tradition of Aperitivo and made everything completely accessible, Tamu was the "dancing documenter" who managed to always be where she needed to be in order to lend some hands-on help and encouragement. 
A+ to Liberate Your Palate and Luca Modern Italian Kitchen!
Cin cin!

Queen City | Liberate Your Palate (Italian Aperitivos with Luca: Modern Italian Kitchen)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Charlotte's got a lot.

Lately, I've been doing more to explore the variety of fun social/learning opportunities in our city. Last night I had the pleasure of attending a cocktail class presented by Tamu Curtis and Liberate Your Palate. From their website: "We have a passion for cocktail culture, we live it, love it  and have a burning desire to share it with you." Based on the time I had last night with my friend Anne, this thesis absolutely captured the evening. LYP offers their #ShakeStirSipSocialize classes in addition to cocktail catering. I imagine any event would be elevated with these passionate people on the job.

Our class, "The Italian Aperitivo," was taught and hosted by Jessica Annunziata, who with her husband, Chef Luca Annunziata, own and operate Luca: Modern Italian Kitchen. Jessica's personality, knowledge, and love for food and spirits was a highlight of the evening. The "stuzzichini" (appetizers and nibbles) that were created by Luca to accompany each cocktail were delightful little surprises that made the sips even tastier. 
Aperitivo is northern Italy's version of happy hour that is enjoyed at the end of the workday as a warmup to dinner. People gather at their neighborhood bar or cafe with friends and family to enjoy a light cocktail and a snack. Aperitivo is typically between 7-9pm and dinner follows.

All three aperitivo cocktails we made in our class used traditional ingredients (Campari, Vermouth, and Bitters) balanced with simple modifications to change the resulting flavors. Because of these primary ingredients, the drinks were light on alcohol and bitter on taste, resulting in a beautiful pairing with the sweet and salty nibbles that the kitchen turned out as accompaniments. 

The first cocktail we mixed was a traditional Negroni --a favorite at my house. (If you get a chance to try the Blood Orange version that Luca keeps on their cocktail menu, be sure to indulge! With a tiny scoop of blood orange sorbet, it's not to be missed.) Our Negronis were paired on the front end with local figs, goat cheese, and blackberry jam and rounded out with a ridiculous stuffed squash blossom that was crispy, creamy, salty perfection over some "boozy peaches." I can't recall exactly how Jessica described the peach preparation but the result was incredible on the plate. 
The Negroni
1 oz Doc Porter's Gin
1 oz Campari
2 oz Sweet Vermouth  
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Orange Twist

The next cocktail was called, Negroni Shagliato. While it contained two of the main ingredients from the Negroni, the cocktail turned out to be completely different. It was much less bitter, had a sparkly effervesce, and was surprisingly light despite its deep plum color and sweet notes. This sip was paired with a bruschetta-type bite that consisted of a well-seasoned toast topped with ripe tomato, creamy cannelloni beans, parsley, and garlic. This bite had gusto and with the sweetness of the Shagliato, the pairing was delicious. 
Negroni Shagliato
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Sparkling Wine (Lambrusco)
Directions: Shake Campari, Vermouth and Bitters with ice. Strain into a chilled wine glass or champagne flute. Top with Lambrusco. Garnish with 2 cherries.

Our last cocktail was called, Costar d'alcol. It was the lightest of the three and I felt as though I could sip them all day long (especially in the heat). I also thought it was the prettiest of the three. The garnish (prepared by the kitchen) was certainly a stuzzichini in itself: basil-wrapped watermelon ball alongside prosciutto-wrapped local buffalo milk mozzarella. Seriously. Salty, sweet, creamy, crisp perfection on a stick (and floating on my cocktail). The kitchen also sent out two house-made, fried raviolis on a generous smear of heavily parmesaned marinara. More crunchy, salty, sweetness to swoon over with our sips.
Ciostra d'alcol
2 oz Dry Red Wine (we used Cantina Zaccagnini Rosé Dry Wine)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sparkling Lemonade (we used Cedrata Italian Citron)
Orange slice garnish (Or if you're inspired and motivated: Watermelon, Basil, Mozzarella, Prosciutto)
Directions: Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes. Add wine, Campari and Cedrata. Stir. 

The night was a complete success. Obviously, the company was lovely. :) Our class was an eclectic mix of people of all ages. I loved that the cocktails we made were based on only a few primary ingredients --making it more than likely that those who didn't already have them stocked, would invest in these for their own liquor cabinets or bar carts, thus making it possible to delight friends and family with the new recipes. 

Jessica was incredibly personable, as was Tamu. While Jessica was the "casual expert" in the tradition of Aperitivo and made everything completely accessible, Tamu was the "dancing documenter" who managed to always be where she needed to be in order to lend some hands-on help and encouragement. 
A+ to Liberate Your Palate and Luca Modern Italian Kitchen!
Cin cin!

Revision.
Refreshen. 
Update.
Enhance.

I enjoy changing things up, especially in the house. Sometimes it's super easy --as with throw pillows on the couches and cushions on the porch rockers. Depending on the season, things go from bright and cheerful to warm and cozy. Even art pieces, books, plants, and candles are fairly easy to manipulate --giving our spaces an economical freshening up. 

After going through pictures from our recent trip to Paris and London, I knew I wanted to incorporate some personal reminders of this family time together into our everyday living. There were so many great shots to choose from and I had a lot of ideas. Ultimately, I decided to make some edits to the Gallery Wall in our living room. (A little peek from when it first came together in 2015.) I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. 

The lower left corner and upper right corner now feature two of my favorite photos from our adventure: P daydreaming in front of a beautiful navy lacquered door and G writing in her travel journal on the windowsill of our apartment in Paris. So sweet. 





Gallery Wall Refreshened

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Revision.
Refreshen. 
Update.
Enhance.

I enjoy changing things up, especially in the house. Sometimes it's super easy --as with throw pillows on the couches and cushions on the porch rockers. Depending on the season, things go from bright and cheerful to warm and cozy. Even art pieces, books, plants, and candles are fairly easy to manipulate --giving our spaces an economical freshening up. 

After going through pictures from our recent trip to Paris and London, I knew I wanted to incorporate some personal reminders of this family time together into our everyday living. There were so many great shots to choose from and I had a lot of ideas. Ultimately, I decided to make some edits to the Gallery Wall in our living room. (A little peek from when it first came together in 2015.) I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. 

The lower left corner and upper right corner now feature two of my favorite photos from our adventure: P daydreaming in front of a beautiful navy lacquered door and G writing in her travel journal on the windowsill of our apartment in Paris. So sweet. 





Camp pick-up day might just be the best day of the year for me. These squirrels are absolutely exhausted from packing in so much: horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, capture the flag, tennis, swimming, ceramics, painting, and so much more! They have so many new friends to introduce me to and so many special places at camp they want to show me. And the HUGS! Have I mentioned the hugs when we first see one another?? The goodbyes are heartfelt and the tears are sweet. And when they tuck in for their first night back at home, they both sleep heavily (one for 13 hours and the other 14, this year). 
Before all of that sleeping though, our tradition is to wrap up camp with a stop for lunch at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Asheville on our drive back home to Charlotte. I let them order whatever their hearts desire and we pick and choose and pass and share and sample and nosh our way through stories from camp. In addition to funny things that happened, amazing things they did, creative things they made, favorite meals from the dining hall, and adventures on the water and on the trails, I usually get a sampling of songs they sang over the two weeks as well. 
(joyce farms chicken wings, rasted beet salad, moroccan skewers, heirloom tomato salad, hickory grits, pavlova)
After we've worked our way through all the delicious food, we head out to the gardens and the sunshine. This year, the edible flowers (and flowers in general) were abundant among the herbs and vegetables. There were so many colors and we had a great time roaming the paths between the beds. When we've had enough of the heat, we hit the road to get home to a Daddy who's been missing them and a kitty that has been forced to survive on a fraction of the love and attention he's accustomed to.

Camp Pick Up Tradition: Sierra Nevada Brewery

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Camp pick-up day might just be the best day of the year for me. These squirrels are absolutely exhausted from packing in so much: horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, capture the flag, tennis, swimming, ceramics, painting, and so much more! They have so many new friends to introduce me to and so many special places at camp they want to show me. And the HUGS! Have I mentioned the hugs when we first see one another?? The goodbyes are heartfelt and the tears are sweet. And when they tuck in for their first night back at home, they both sleep heavily (one for 13 hours and the other 14, this year). 
Before all of that sleeping though, our tradition is to wrap up camp with a stop for lunch at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Asheville on our drive back home to Charlotte. I let them order whatever their hearts desire and we pick and choose and pass and share and sample and nosh our way through stories from camp. In addition to funny things that happened, amazing things they did, creative things they made, favorite meals from the dining hall, and adventures on the water and on the trails, I usually get a sampling of songs they sang over the two weeks as well. 
(joyce farms chicken wings, rasted beet salad, moroccan skewers, heirloom tomato salad, hickory grits, pavlova)
After we've worked our way through all the delicious food, we head out to the gardens and the sunshine. This year, the edible flowers (and flowers in general) were abundant among the herbs and vegetables. There were so many colors and we had a great time roaming the paths between the beds. When we've had enough of the heat, we hit the road to get home to a Daddy who's been missing them and a kitty that has been forced to survive on a fraction of the love and attention he's accustomed to.

Today is the last full day that the girls are at camp. I spent the day checking little things off my to-do list, stocking the house with foods they like (including a box of "sugar" cereal *gasp*), and thinking about how amazing those hugs feel when we first see one another at pick up.

Two weeks isn't a very long time but I swear it feels like ages ago that we dropped them off and checked into the Grove Park Inn for a 2-night stay. The first day they were away was as tender as this last day has been. I relaxed, read my book, laid at the pool, and sent them postcards.

Asheville, North Carolina is a beautiful place. The Grove Park Inn, in particular, is a fantastic spot to just be quiet. The spaces are cavernous and yet they feel warm and intimate. Everything is stone, wood, expansive, and solid.
The view is breathtaking. The history is interesting. The service is excellent. There are several dining experiences. Dinner on the Sunset Terrace (or a drink from the patio) is not to be missed when the skies are clear. Edison is a gorgeous open-air restaurant with tables to accommodate any occasion. They have comfortable lounging areas and the food is as good as the view --nothing fussy or overdone --just delicious.
Time to tuck in for the night. I have an early departure in the morning and a bit of drive --but the smiles and hugs waiting on the other side will make it a breeze!

Christmas Eve-ish Feelings (and some thoughts about The Omni Grove Park Inn)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Today is the last full day that the girls are at camp. I spent the day checking little things off my to-do list, stocking the house with foods they like (including a box of "sugar" cereal *gasp*), and thinking about how amazing those hugs feel when we first see one another at pick up.

Two weeks isn't a very long time but I swear it feels like ages ago that we dropped them off and checked into the Grove Park Inn for a 2-night stay. The first day they were away was as tender as this last day has been. I relaxed, read my book, laid at the pool, and sent them postcards.

Asheville, North Carolina is a beautiful place. The Grove Park Inn, in particular, is a fantastic spot to just be quiet. The spaces are cavernous and yet they feel warm and intimate. Everything is stone, wood, expansive, and solid.
The view is breathtaking. The history is interesting. The service is excellent. There are several dining experiences. Dinner on the Sunset Terrace (or a drink from the patio) is not to be missed when the skies are clear. Edison is a gorgeous open-air restaurant with tables to accommodate any occasion. They have comfortable lounging areas and the food is as good as the view --nothing fussy or overdone --just delicious.
Time to tuck in for the night. I have an early departure in the morning and a bit of drive --but the smiles and hugs waiting on the other side will make it a breeze!
We had a beautiful trip to Charleston last weekend: Amazing food (Husk, FIG, The Obstinate Daughter, and The Ordinary), relaxing mornings, a day at the beach, our kayak trip on Shem Creek, rooftop cocktails (before the thunderstorm), and a mini shopping spree during the Summer Sale at Club Monaco.

One delicious highlight was the London Latte that I ordered with breakfast at the Maison Café in our hotel. Their version of the drink included Earl Grey, Vanilla, and Lavender. I had never tried anything like it (though, I understand now that Starbucks makes a version without the lavender) and being a little nostalgic for our recent trip to London, I thought I would give it a go. It was delicious!

Before we left, I went back to the counter and asked the barista to see the tea bag (thinking I would order the blend for home). I was surprised to find out that it had only Earl Grey tea and that the vanilla and lavender flavors came from 4 pumps of syrup. Yikes! No wonder it was so good. The following morning, I went back to my usual: Americano + Splenda --but I couldn't stop thinking about The London.

Having just made Lavender Lemonade for G's birthday party, I had loose lavender buds at home. I picked up some Earl Grey and some sugar-free vanilla creamer and thought I would give a modified "guilt-free" recipe a try.
It's not quite AS delicious as the version at Maison; however, it is pretty lovely --so much so, that I'm going to pick up some decaffeinated Earl Grey so that evening sipping is also an option. Cheers!

London Fog

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

We had a beautiful trip to Charleston last weekend: Amazing food (Husk, FIG, The Obstinate Daughter, and The Ordinary), relaxing mornings, a day at the beach, our kayak trip on Shem Creek, rooftop cocktails (before the thunderstorm), and a mini shopping spree during the Summer Sale at Club Monaco.

One delicious highlight was the London Latte that I ordered with breakfast at the Maison Café in our hotel. Their version of the drink included Earl Grey, Vanilla, and Lavender. I had never tried anything like it (though, I understand now that Starbucks makes a version without the lavender) and being a little nostalgic for our recent trip to London, I thought I would give it a go. It was delicious!

Before we left, I went back to the counter and asked the barista to see the tea bag (thinking I would order the blend for home). I was surprised to find out that it had only Earl Grey tea and that the vanilla and lavender flavors came from 4 pumps of syrup. Yikes! No wonder it was so good. The following morning, I went back to my usual: Americano + Splenda --but I couldn't stop thinking about The London.

Having just made Lavender Lemonade for G's birthday party, I had loose lavender buds at home. I picked up some Earl Grey and some sugar-free vanilla creamer and thought I would give a modified "guilt-free" recipe a try.
It's not quite AS delicious as the version at Maison; however, it is pretty lovely --so much so, that I'm going to pick up some decaffeinated Earl Grey so that evening sipping is also an option. Cheers!


First and foremost, thank you for subscribing to Sourjones! It's been a long time since I've paid any attention to my sweet little blog space and I'm currently working to give her some love in the form of an updated look and better functionality. 

In the process, there have been a few snafus. I apologize for the random posts that may be sprinkling into your inbox. (Though, I do hope you try the Cucumber Salad and I did LOVE being reminded of that picture of G with my dad in Oregon from 3 years ago...)

While I finish getting things situated on my end, here's a simple summertime pleasure I feel compelled to share: If you get the chance to experience fresh Rosemary anytime soon --embrace it. Literally. Squeeze a little between your fingers and enjoy the amazing scent. The slight stickiness will be worth the sniff. It's lovely! I know it might sound silly and maybe it's just me but, cutting these stems for a project this morning, brought me honest (sentimental?) enjoyment. Now I just need to find some good rosemary recipes... maybe I'll slip a little into our Bourbon cocktails this evening. ;)

Random Post Explanation

Friday, July 21, 2017


First and foremost, thank you for subscribing to Sourjones! It's been a long time since I've paid any attention to my sweet little blog space and I'm currently working to give her some love in the form of an updated look and better functionality. 

In the process, there have been a few snafus. I apologize for the random posts that may be sprinkling into your inbox. (Though, I do hope you try the Cucumber Salad and I did LOVE being reminded of that picture of G with my dad in Oregon from 3 years ago...)

While I finish getting things situated on my end, here's a simple summertime pleasure I feel compelled to share: If you get the chance to experience fresh Rosemary anytime soon --embrace it. Literally. Squeeze a little between your fingers and enjoy the amazing scent. The slight stickiness will be worth the sniff. It's lovely! I know it might sound silly and maybe it's just me but, cutting these stems for a project this morning, brought me honest (sentimental?) enjoyment. Now I just need to find some good rosemary recipes... maybe I'll slip a little into our Bourbon cocktails this evening. ;)

Cucumber Salad (Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2013)
~
What you need:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (1-inch) slices yellow bell pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 English cucumber, sliced
~
What to do:
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bow, stirring with a whisk. Add bell pepper and remaining ingredients to wine mixture; toss gently to coat.

This light and bright salad sings, "summertime!" We are definitely cucumber fans around here--so this was right up our alley. We didn't have any leftovers, but if we did, they would have been tasty tossed with chilled pasta and feta for a quick pasta salad.

Recipe Review | Cucumber Salad

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Cucumber Salad (Adapted from Cooking Light, June 2013)
~
What you need:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (1-inch) slices yellow bell pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 English cucumber, sliced
~
What to do:
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium bow, stirring with a whisk. Add bell pepper and remaining ingredients to wine mixture; toss gently to coat.

This light and bright salad sings, "summertime!" We are definitely cucumber fans around here--so this was right up our alley. We didn't have any leftovers, but if we did, they would have been tasty tossed with chilled pasta and feta for a quick pasta salad.

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