{ From City Chic to Suburban Simple }

Alright lovelies…I know it’s been a few weeks since I last posted. And no, it is certainly not normal. I am a blogger that posts weekly but I had to take a brief hiatus for a very good reason. But do not fret – I’ll be posting regularly again now that things have calmed down. So what exactly has gone on in this duration that has caused a slight pause in posting?

Welp…if you did not know, the hubs and I were looking to purchase a home. We had lived in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood for almost a year and as much as we have always loved the area, we realized quickly that the space was getting a little too tight for us. We were in a historic bungalow which had such great charm, however, to put it frankly, we needed more room.

We had been working with our real estate agent for a few months and kept finding ourselves either losing out on a house because we did not move fast enough or ended up in a bidding war because a house had multiple offers. The housing market in Charlotte is pretty hot right now and with it being inundated with buyers, not a lot of inventory and low interest rates…it was a recipe for frustration. I was down and out a few weeks back because we had lost a bidding war on a house and I had not felt defeat like that in some time. However, a week after the bad news, our dream home came on the market. So Reader’s Digest version: we put in an offer sight unseen the day it came on the market with a time table (we asked for a response from the seller by 5pm that day in order to avoid another multiple offer scenario – yeah, we played hard ball) and I went to scope out the digs on my lunch break that day. Risky? I’d say so. But I just had warm fuzzy feelings about this home and we went with our gut instinct.

Needless to say…it ended up working out in our favor and I am proud to announce that on May 26th we closed on this gorgeous southern colonial.

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I will say that I am and always have been a big believer in fate. Everything happens for a reason and sometimes, you have to believe. Not just say you believe, but actually live it by letting the cards fall how they may, putting your best foot forward, thinking positively and not letting a hit or setback deter you from still pushing forward.

Although Shahin and I have always been big into “city living” we have officially traded it in for a more simple, suburban lifestyle. Does that mean we have aged 20 years and will never go out to the bars and breweries we used to enjoy? No. It just means that we have taken a new direction in our life and marriage and are so excited to make this house a home.

Stay tuned for home update posts as I see many projects in our future! In the meantime, enjoy some other great shots of our new abode below. Enjoy!

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{ beautiful front door }

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{ living room and lots of windows }

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{ dining room }

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{ Our garden of aloe, tomatoes and radishes }

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{ the back }

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{ ivy trees and a pretty sweet shed }

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{ a pretty incredible back deck }

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{ back deck love }

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Food Truck Frenzy

In case you haven’t heard…food trucks are all the rage. Of course they have been for quite some time, particularly on the west coast. But my beloved city, Charlotte, is experiencing a large growth in the food truck game lately and I can’t lie…I’m kind of loving it! I am big on doing everything on a local level – supporting neighborhood businesses is big for me. Especially because I am a native Charlottean and I love nothing more than standing behind those who put their heart and soul into a vision and made their dream a reality. NoDa Brewing Company being one (yay craft beer) but also my dear friends, Kevin and Matt, who have started their very own food truck, New Wrap Order.

This was something I’ve heard Kevin talk about through the many years he has been in my life. And rightfully so, the guy is talented. He went to Johnson and Wales for culinary so let’s put it this way – he knows what he’s doing. When he told the hubs and I that he was going for the gold, to say we were excited for him is an understatement. Watching Kevin and Matt take a dream and see it through has been inspiring. Nothing tugs at my heart strings more than seeing someone take a leap of faith, put everything they have into something and to put it frankly…make it happen.

Two nights ago, we attended a family and friends night Kevin and Matt hosted for their food truck. In light of their first real event/public launch of their truck today (Food Truck Friday in Matthews), I am sharing my favorite food trucks in town and also the ones I am dying to try! Enjoy!

New Wrap Order (the new kid in town)

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Exhibit A – Kevin & Matt’s food truck, New Wrap Order. New Wrap Order is exactly what you would think: internationally inspired wraps but also bowls for all of you avoiding carbs! Two night ago, I tried the Caribbean Wrap – Jamaican jerk sauce, crispy plantain chips, black beans, white rice and toasted coconut (and comes with your choice of meat – I picked steak). I also got to to taste the “wonchos” – think nachos with wontons instead – and there are three different kinds: Traditional, American and Asian Style! Let me tell you…the Asian Style was out of this world. I am confident that they are going to kill it in the food truck game and excited to watch it come to fruition! More information can be found here.

Ooowee BBQ

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Now, I thought I had tasted the best BBQ in Charlotte as we frequent Midwood Smoke on a fairly regular basis. But I have to say, Ooowee BBQ definitely gives them a run for their money. I was fortunate enough to try their food at NoDa Brewing a couple of weeks ago. No words. The BBQ is ridiculously on point and the mac and cheese is killer. Not to mention they do a little something called BBQ Sundaes…and it is exactly what you would expect. Layers of mac and cheese, baked beans, your choice of meat, dry rub cole slaw and topped with BBQ sauce. They even serve it in a sundae container. Lots of points on creativity but even more on the cuisine itself. More information can be found here.

Papi Queso

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If you know me, you know I love cheese. Better yet, grilled cheese. So you can imagine how this food truck won my heart long ago. This is not some plain, boring grilled cheese – this is grilled cheese on steroids! From mushroom gruyere to a grilled cheese with prosciutto and honey walnuts…this truck is on point. More information can be found here.

The TIN Kitchen

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In my opinion, TIN Kitchen is a Charlotte food truck staple. They offer a little bit of everything – from tacos to quesadillas to salads and sliders – everyone will dine happy here. My personal favorite is the Chicken Tinga Tacos — chipotle chicken braised with tomatoes and charred onions, topped with salsa verde and queso fresco crumbles and scallions. This is a food truck that I will continue to support for life. More information can be found here.

Maryland Crab Co. 

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Have you ever wanted fresh seafood? I know…it sounds strange that a food truck could potentially provide this but believe it or not, Maryland Crab Co. does! This food truck launched in 2013 and it has been a great addition to the town. They found that people could not find fresh seafood in Charlotte and why would they? After all, we are no where near the coast. However, Maryland Crab Co. brings fresh MD crab to the Queen City. From soft shell crab to shrimp to crab cakes – this place has it all. More information can be found here.

King of Pops

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So…it’s not a truck per say. But same kind of concept. If you have not had the luxury of eating one of these popsicles in your life, you are doing a disservice to yourself. I am quite serious. King of Pops has little carts all around Charlotte and their mission is to bring fresh, all-natural popsicles to the area…and they definitely deliver on their promise. They have a schedule that you can check out on their site that tells you exactly where they will be. They provide an array of seasonal pops as well as some staples. With flavors like Cereal Milk Fruit Loops, Chocolate Tarragon, Coconut Lemongrass, Grapefruit Mint, Lemon Ricotta (my personal fav) and Pineapple Cilantro – you will never be disappointed with the selection. More information can be found here.

Now…the trucks I have not tried yet but am dying to…

Yummi Banh Mi

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Okay, so I am not 100% sure what this truck is about other than one thing…bahn mi. A delicious, traditional Vietnamese sandwich. I’ve seen it driving around Charlotte and I’ve actually contemplated following it (is that weird?). At any rate, I will be finding this one soon so I can get my hands on a delicious sandwich! More information can be found here.

Sugar Handmade Gourmet Donuts

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Yeah…I have no shame admitting that I love donuts. I don’t do them regularly but when I do, I want a good one. Don’t get me wrong, I love cupcakes too but there is something really fresh and almost chic about gourmet donuts. Everyone sees Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ but a homemade donut just simply cannot be beat. When I saw this food truck the other day I nearly peed my pants (not really, but you catch my drift). I mean, they have a beignet donut for goodness sakes. This is definitely a food truck worth trying! More information can be found here.

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The Big Move

Happy Wednesday, lovelies – I hope all of you are having a splendid week so far!

It seems like we’ve been working on our future home for forever now. The whole “patience is a virtue” thing definitely has a whole new meaning after this experience! But alas, I can finally say that we are officially move-in ready as of last night (thanks to the hubs and our dear friend, Andy for painting the master bedroom ceiling and trim). Shahin and I are both so excited to start this new chapter in our lives and see what all is to come! Even more, I’m ready for my two furry little hellions to have a fenced in yard to run around in!

So what’s next? The Big Move. I say it like that because I loathe (and I do mean loathe) moving. Tell me, is there anyone out there who actually enjoys it? At the beginning of my relationship with my husband (almost seven years ago), we moved several times and I always felt like a gypsy. Having not moved ever as a child, I could not understand how people did it so frequently without completely losing it because it drove me to tears almost every time! Needless to say, we have certainly not made it easy on ourselves when it’s come to this house; we’ve painted and taken numerous DIY approaches in an effort to save some dinero (which ultimately means it can go elsewhere – hellooo decor and other fun things). You can probably guess that the physical move is not going to be any different from our previous strategy. Yes, we are moving everything on our own (God’s speed). I’ve already been packing like a crazy person and of course we need to do some deep cleaning and touching up in our current abode. But how does one maintain a level of sanity while moving? Below are four steps I will be taking during this time and hopefully it can help you too if you’re planning a move in the near future!

1. Stay organized. It sounds a lot easier than it actually is. I don’t care how organized you are in every other aspect of your life (because I am borderline OCD when it comes to this), it is very difficult to keep everything (and yourself) together during a move. What I have personally found helpful during this process is Pinterest. I’m writing everything the box contains ON the box in addition to color coding by room (i.e. – kitchen is yellow, bedroom is purple, bathroom is blue and living room is green). I also have a running checklist of the number of boxes in each category to ensure all are accounted for.

2. Purging. What I mean by this is to really go through what you have and part ways with belongings. I know, it’s hard. In fact, my husband calls me a hoarder. Am I really? No. But I guess to some degree, I could be considered one. I like to think of myself as an emotional hoarder. I hold on to things that have sentimental value. I guess it’s okay to a point but there has to be a limit. I’ve sorted through many items with a fine tooth comb and have had to trust my gut instinct in many cases. If I look at an item and question getting rid of it, I end up putting it aside to donate. Why? Because if it were really that important, I would not be questioning whether to love it or leave it.

3. Have a course of action. Create a plan and implement it…it’s that simple. Are you renting a U-Haul? Are friends and family helping you? Are you going to be providing food and beverages throughout the day for those who are assisting? Are you doing everything in one day or spreading it out? So many questions that one should never left unanswered.

4. Breathe and channel your energy. Why stress over something this exciting? Is moving a royal pain? Yes. But it’s part of life and in many cases, a very fun time! Think positively and focus on the great things to come once you’re in!

The moving process begins for us this weekend and we are taking our time bringing over boxes since we are not on a time constraint. It’s best to have it done efficiently and effectively. As #4 suggests, I’m channeling my energy to all of the great things about our new home! As mentioned in my previous post (Home Is Wherever I’m With You), I will soon be sharing and updating you all on our touches, details, decor, DIY projects and ideas! Below is a little sneak peak of our home as a blank canvas! Stay tuned!

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{ Dining Room in Benjamin Moore Brittany Blue & Kitchen in Benjamin Moore Gray Lake }

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{ Dining Room in Benjamin Moore Brittany Blue & Kitchen in Benjamin Moore Gray Lake }

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{ Master Bedroom in Benjamin Moore Ocean Air }

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{ Master Bedroom in Benjamin Moore Ocean Air }

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{ Living Room in Benjamin Moore Brittany Blue }

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{ Kitchen in Benjamin Moore Gray Lake }

Top Ten List | Fav Craft Brews of All Time

The weather is finally starting to heat up here in the Carolinas but what it is really doing is making me crave an ice cold craft brew on a picturesque patio. There, I said it. Of course there are tons of summer activities to plan like concerts, festivals and road trips…but nothing truly beats good company and the frothy, carbonated goodness of a delicious beer. So in honor of all the beer lovers out there, I have cultivated a list of my top ten favorite craft brews of all time. Some are year-round while others are seasonal – each bring something very special to the table.

Now, I will go ahead and give you my “fine print”: I am not a craft beer guru or connoisseur…nor do I claim to be. However, I would consider myself a craft beer advocate and I know what I like. So without further adieu, below is my go-to list of beers that I’ve experienced and loved. Maybe if you see one that you haven’t tried yet you can give it a go next time you’re out and about! { What are your favorite craft beers? What style of beer do you love? Share in the comment section as I’m always looking for something new to sip on! }

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 10.  Delirium Tremens from Huyghe Brewery – Belgium

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I remember the first time I picked one of these up at Common Market. I loved the bottle but wasn’t too sure what to expect regarding the beer itself. Delirium Tremens is a golden colored Belgian Strong Ale that is both fruity and hoppy with a slightly bitter finish.

 

9.  Maharaja Imperial IPA from Avery Brewing Company – Boulder, Colorado

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{ averybrewing.com }

This is a beer I have been drinking for a few years now – why mess with a good thing? Maharaja is an American Double/Imperial IPA with a very high alcohol content of 10.2%. This smooth, amber colored beer is fairly hoppy but truly encompasses the perfect blend of bitter and sweet. Maharaja definitely has some subtle notes of pine and citrus (perhaps some orange) and the aroma is divine.

 

8.  Anchor Steam from Anchor Brewing Company – San Francisco, California

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{ anchorbrewing.com }

This year-round brew is a solid go-to and I would even consider it a classic. I’m a big fan of San Francisco and as silly as it sounds, the taste of this beer reminds me of the city in every shape, way and form. It’s clean, refreshing and magical.

 

7.  Hazelnut Brown Nectar from Rogue – Newport, Oregon

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{ rogue.com }

If you’ve never experienced any Rogue beer before, stop what you are doing right now and find the closest store that carries them. I’ve been an advocate of Rogue for several years because they consistently put out a solid beer. Their Hazelnut Brown Nectar in particular is hands down one of my favorites although there probably isn’t a Rogue beer I haven’t loved. As you can probably infer from the name, this beer definitely tastes like rich, roasted hazelnuts. Sweet in flavor and copper in color, this beer is another good one to have in your arsenal.

 

6.  OMB Dunkel from Olde Mecklenburg Brewery – Charlotte, North Carolina

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{ oldemeckbrew.com }

Where do I begin with my love affair with OMB Dunkel? If it was a year-round beer, I would be in serious trouble. This seasonal brew is only around in the Winter but it will warm your soul on those frosty nights. Olde Meck’s Dunkel is a rich brown color, medium bodied with slightly sweet malts and an earthy flavor.

 

5.  Hop Drop N’ Roll from NoDa Brewing Company in Charlotte, North Carolina

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{ nodabrewing.com }

So, you need to take me seriously when I say that I swear I am not biased. I know the owners and employees of NoDa Brewing Company quite well. Not only does my husband work at the brewery part-time, but I’ve known many of the staff members for years. No words can explain my love for these people – Chad, the head brewer, knows what the heck he is doing…and the owners, Todd & Suzie? They are truly some of the best people I know. Now, to the beer. Hop Drop N’ Roll is beyond any other American-style IPA that I’ve had. It has an intricate and complex flavor profile – seriously incredible. I’m a big fan of all of NoDa’s beers but this one definitely stands out among the rest. In fact, it just took home the Gold Award at the 2014 World Beer Cup® for American-Style IPAs which is a huge deal. The best part about it all? You do not have to go the brewery to enjoy this beverage as this past year they started selling them in cans all around town. Convenience at its finest!

 

4.  Cottonwood Spiced Pumpkin Ale from Foothills Brewing Company in Winston Salem, North Carolina 

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{ foothillsbrewing.com }

If you know me, it is no secret that Autumn is my favorite season and that pumpkin flavored anything makes me the happiest girl in the world. So of course, I am pumpkin beer obsessed. However, when it comes to this type of seasonal beer, I am very particular about the taste. I’ve had some where you cannot taste pumpkin at all and some that are way too sweet…to the point of nausea. I remember first tasting Cottonwood Pumpkin when I was out having a post-work beverage with a coworker. I ordered it on a whim, not expecting to completely fall head over heels…which I absolutely did. WOW. Everyone will give you an opinion on the “best” pumpkin beer and I truly believe it’s all personal. Not everyone’s palettes are the same and what each individual is seeking is very different. But Cottonwood Pumpkin is the perfect balance of a pumpkin taste with hints of nutmeg and spices without being overly sweet.

 

3.  Cold Mountain Winter Ale from Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, North Carolina

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{ highlandbrewing.com }

I cannot even begin to take credit for discovering this beer – it was truly all my husband. Shahin is a huge craft beer guy and has been in the scene for several years now. But when it’s Winter time, all that I hear him talk about is getting his hands on a Cold Mountain Winter Ale by Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC. It’s clear as day that Asheville is a major craft beer hub and there are so many incredible breweries up there, but Highland Brewing is most definitely one of my favorites as they always put out a quality product. Cold Mountain is a deep, copper color beer with a creamy texture and subtle, soul-warming flavors such as nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. This well-balanced beer is definitely a wise choice for cold, winter nights.

 

2.  Coco Loco from NoDa Brewing Company – Charlotte, North Carolina

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{ nodabrewing.com }

Without a doubt, this is my favorite NoDa Brewing Company beer and number two on my favorite craft brews of all time. This American Porter is a rich, dark brown color (almost black) with a creamy, light tan head. What I love about this beer is it encompasses two of my most beloved things: chocolate and coconut. Let me sum it up for you…taste bud explosion! The flavor profile is ridiculously enchanting: the marriage of the slightly bitter chocolate with the sweet notes of the organic coconut (toasted on-site at the brewery) is pure perfection. It was even awarded the Silver Medal in 2012 at The Great American Beer Festival. Go…go try it now.

 

1.  Hopslam Ale from Bell’s Brewery – Kalamazoo, Michigan

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{ bellsbeer.com }

There are no words to explain Hopslam except when you can actually find it…it’s like gold. You think I’m joking, but I’m totally not. Aside from this also being a Winter seasonal beer, only a certain amount is released to specific locations. That means…if I were you, I’d start researching now how to get it this Winter because those who know which bars or pubs receive shipments do not share with others. Would it be bold of me to even say that Hopslam almost has a cult-like following? Probably not…and I’m pretty darn guilty of being a part of it myself. But y’all, it’s really that good. This beer is a rich amber color and very easy to drink and goes down smoothly. As noted in the name of the beer, it is quite hoppy. But if you’re not a fan of hoppy beers, do not let that deter you from trying this because I too once felt that way and this beer changed my entire way of thinking. The aroma and flavors are so pungent: strong grapefruit, pineapple, honey and floral notes. I recommend this beer time and time again – it is worth all the hype.

Trying to better understand what kind of beers you enjoy or wish to discover something new? Check out beeradvocate.com