Swooning | February Favorites

Hello, lovelies!

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable week thus far! For my first order of business, I wanted to give a shout out to Elizabeth (Instagram name: elisabetaana) for being the blogiversary giveaway winner! She will be receiving a beautiful Volcano candle soon! Congratulations, sweet girl!

This week’s blog post encompasses the things that I am currently swooning over. With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to share with you the things that I heart. Take a peek at my February Favorites List below (two of which are local to Charlotte, NC). Enjoy!

February Favorites

1. { Hop Cakes from NoDa Brewing Company } If you’ve read my blog before, you will notice that I’ve mentioned NoDa Brewing Company in previous posts. It is a craft brewery located in Charlotte, NC and two of their beers made my top ten favorite beers of all time list (check out that post here). However, I would like to revise the list and add Hop Cakes because NoDa has done it again! I can quite honestly say that I have not had a beer of theirs that I disliked…they nail it every time. But let me tell you about Hop Cakes. It started off as a “NoDable Release”, which is a special, small-batch brew that they change out and feature each Tuesday. However, the popularity of Hop Cakes was significant and rightfully so. Imagine a delicious, double IPA combined with the taste of pancakes. Yeah, I said it. Pancakes. NoDa Brewing Company just released Hop Cakes in cans this month and they’re being snagged up like “hop cakes” (see what I did there?). This will be the 4th beer that they’ve released and distributed in four-pack cans (also check out Coco Loco, Hop, Drop N’ Roll and Jam Session). If you live in the Charlotte area, you can pick up Hop Cakes at your local Harris Teeter.

2. { Shadow/Blush in Hot Mama from The Balm } The first product I purchased from The Balm was the Mary Lou Manizer highlighting powder, which was recommended to me by a friend. I instantly became a fan for life – I loved the product, the packaging and the company mission. Their makeup is certainly not easy to find (it’s not something you can pick up in Sephora or Ulta), but if you have some faith and order online, you will not be sorry! I discovered the shadow/blush merely by accident while I was in Barcelona. My luggage was lost at JFK (fiasco) and I had to purchase clothes, toiletries and makeup since I would be without my own for a few days. I went into a makeup store at the mall in Barcelona and noticed there was a whole display of makeup and skincare from The Balm – bingo! I ended up picking up quite a few products but this shadow/blush – I cannot stress how GORG it is. The peachy/blush color is super pigmented and has a slight shimmer that will make your skin look simply radiant. It is one of those universal colors that looks fantastic on every skin tone.

3. { Rectangle Hand Painted Floral Tray in Yellow from The Little Market } So let me start out by saying, The Little Market is a gem that you must know about if you do not aleady. I’m a avid Lauren Conrad blog reader and discovered this company through her posts. I’ve got to hand it to Lauren Conrad, she is a marketing/branding genius and as someone in the industry, I admire her immensely. Lauren Conrad is actually the co-founder of The Little Market, which is a company that was created to build partnerships with female artisans from around the world and connecting them to customers in an online marketplace. It was cultivated to not only empower women but to provide them with the opportunity to support their families as many of them are in less fortunate situations. The mission itself is so heartfelt and touching and the products? Equally as beautiful. From baby gifts to handbags to home decor – there is truly a little bit of everything. I personally love this dainty, hand painted, pale yellow tray (as well as practically everything else on the site).

4. { Lean In – Women, Work, & the Will to Lead from Amazon } Who doesn’t love a good book? I’ve been blowing through them lately and the one that I just finished up is truly life changing. If you are a female professional, it is seriously your right of passage to read this book by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. It was informative, fascinating and I could not put it down for the life of me. I would even be bold enough to say it was probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Download it on your tablet or pick up a hard copy from Amazon or your local bookstore!

5. { Jewelry from Melvin from Shop Melvin } I came across this company on Instagram and coincidentally, discovered that they are based out of Charlotte, NC — go figure! All of their accessories are swoon-worthy but I happen to have a soft spot for their necklaces. Some of their products have even been featured on the hit HBO series, Girls. The designers get their inspiration from art, culture and travel and its definitely translated in their lines. I tend to get a very tribal and boho vibe from their designs – love, love, love!

6. { Embellished Armhole Scuba Skater Dress in Nude from ASOSI’m a sucker for a. embellishments, b. a feminine frock, and c. anything and everything from ASOS. Therefore, this dress is a home run! For those of you who are looking for something a little more valiant, it also comes in black.

signature

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! }

signature

 

 10.  Delirium Tremens from Huyghe Brewery – Belgium

{ deliriumbeer.com }

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

maharaja_0311-600-128x500

{ 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

th-2

{ 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

hazelnut_brown_nectar3

{ 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

OMN

{ 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

beer-image-YR-3-HopDrop5-530x630

{ 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 

41787_137064599671827_8328_n

{ 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

1_105903127_3

{ 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

beer-image-YR-5-CoCoLoco-530x630

{ 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

Hopslam

{ 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