Friday Nights in the City: Uptown

There's something magical about Uptown Charlotte coming to life on a summer evening and I was lucky to experience it last Friday. My evening was filled with art, celebration, food, friends, and a moment of deep inward reflection.

My first stop was the Goodbye, Goodyear event. Goodyear Arts utilizes underused buildings to host artist residencies and events. This event was thrown to say goodbye to the current location on College Street. The new location is set to open at Camp North End in the near future.



Our second stop of the evening was at the grand reveal of Subsecreto, a brainchild of Corri Smith of Black Wednesday and her business partner Caleb Clark of Enemy to Fashion.


We were asked to keep the event a secret until it began, I think Erin and I did a pretty good job doing so:


The coffee shop and retail space is brilliantly located in First Ward, a block away from the soon-to-be opened Blue Line extension and across the street from UNC Charlotte's Uptown campus.


Corri throws great events where no detail is spared and this party was no different. From a blessing of the space by John W. Love Jr., to custom Reyka vodka cocktails, to tarot card readings from Meredith's Lucky Stars, to a room full of Charlotte's movers and shakers.


I toyed with the idea of getting my first ever tarot reading but had chickened out, at least initially. I wasn't emotionally ready to hear what the cards had to say. But after a heart-to-heart with a dear friend, I went in. I don't know what I was so worried about.


Meredith made me feel at ease and it was more of a therapy session than anything else. You can learn more about her and her services here.


We ended our evening with cocktails and tapas at The Cellar at Duckworth's

A magical evening, indeed.






Slingshot Coffee Co. Summer Giveaway


I have a short list of cold brews that I enjoy because I'm just not a fan of cold coffee, period. Not Just Coffee gets my top billing for local cold brew on tap and Slingshot Coffee Co. gets top billing for bottled. 

Recently, I entered and won one of Slingshot's weekly summer giveaway and wanted to share what was in the prize pack since it included some local gems.


Slingshot Summer Gear (tee & snapback trucker cap) | Slingshot Cold Brew variety pack | Murphy's Naturals (mosquito repellent sticks, mosquito repellent candle, and insect repellent spray) | Big Spoon Bars (apricot pepita and cherry pecan) | Bobble water bottle | Feel Goodz flip flops | A handful of stickers and pins.


The package arrived at the best time possible: on day one of us potty training our toddler. We're going to need all the coffee in the world to survive this weekend. And beer. Somebody please send us beer.



Johnny Fly Co.: 50 Shades of Cool

I've seen Johnny Fly Co. around town for the past couple of years at pop-up markets and have always enjoyed perusing their wares, wood frame sunglasses and leather goods. Now, there's no need to wait for a pop-up market to check out their goods! They have opened their first physical store in NoDa last month and it's 50 shades of cool. Shades...get it?

The store, located at 519 E. 36th Street, is bright and airy with lots of natural elements (including the products!). There's even a Try on Bar so you can find the perfect pair of shades to fit your face and style.

Here are a few snapshots from the grand opening event:



Here are a few of my current favorites:


1. Latitude Stacked Wooden Sunglasses (white tortoise, walnut, smoke polarized) | 2. Apache Stacked Wooden Sunglasses (space, teak wood, G15 polarized) | 3. UFO Stacked Wooden Sunglasses (rose, ebony wood, G15 polarized) | 4. Captain Stacked Wooden Sunglasses (gloss black, ebony wood, smoke polarized)


5. Leather Studio Camera Bag | 6. Weekend Leather Duffle | 7. Leather Double Utility Sling Bag


Have you been to their store yet (physical or web)? And if so, what's your favorite item that they sell?







SummerSHARE 2017: Baby Bundles

While majority of us enjoy a summer break and go on vacations, the needs of our community do not. If anything, the needs of those less fortunate in our community increase.

This is one of the many reasons why I have partnered with Share Charlotte to promote and crowdfund for their SummerSHARE campaign. 

This summer I have chosen Baby Bundles as the recipient of my crowdfunding efforts and I need your help on July 20th to help raise $750. Click here to make a donation.

Why Baby Bundles? 

Of the total births in Mecklenburg County, nearly 50% are to mothers receiving Medicaid benefits, and more than 6,000 children are born in this community every year to mothers living in "high needs" zip codes. There are children born in our area who have nothing to leave the hospital in, not even a onesie. Let that sink in for a moment.

This is where Baby Bundles comes in. 

Think of Baby Bundles as a baby shower from the community that provides the most necessary items to the disadvantaged families. The bundles include baby blankets, burp cloths, bibs, infant hats, infant socks, onesies, outfits, and pajamas. They also include age appropriate books and baby toys to encourage parent-child bonding and cognitive development in the baby's rapidly developing brain. 

The bundles are distributed through community partners, such as the Crisis Assistance Ministries, and select hospital locations in the Charlotte area. The bundles are provided through various organizations that build relationships with the families to help fulfill other needs related to raising a child.


Last Thursday, Charlotte and I visited the Baby Bundles warehouse to learn more about the organization and to help put together bundles.


Charlotte enjoyed "shopping" the baskets of various clothing items to put into the bundles:


And she also enjoyed taking a little break to watch the Minions and share Goldfish with a new friend:


Here's one of the bundles that we put together for a family here in Mecklenbug county:


We had a great time volunteering and learning about the organization. Click here to learn how you can help.


I hope you join me in raising funds and awareness for this amazing organization.



*The money raised by the campaign goes directly to the non-profit, which they receive within 30 days of the campaign's end. Crowdrise takes 2.9% of the money raised + $0.30 per transaction to ensure that the non-profit receives the full donation.


How to Gain 10 Pounds in One Day

A sign of a growing city is the number of events happening on any given day. I can still recall days when I couldn't find anything to do in Charlotte. Now? There are so many events happening that it's difficult to choose which ones to go to and which ones to skip. 

Today was one of those days. 

Thankfully, with the help of my lovely date Erin, we were able to narrow down the list for a perfect afternoon.

Our first stop was at Joe's Doughs for their grand re-opening. They tweaked their dough recipe and are adding a coffee bar soon (rumored debut date is sometime in August). 


I ordered two donuts, maple bacon and cinnamon peach crunch, since my child stole my breakfast sandwich earlier that day and I was a bit hungry...


Erin ordered a chocolate glazed donut with sprinkles:


After catching up on each other's lives, we moved on to our next destination: to celebrate the opening of the future location of Not Just Coffee inside TABOR/SOCO Gallery at 421 Providence. 

I've heard a lot about TABOR and SOCO Gallery and I was excited to finally check out the space. TABOR is a modern men's clothing store and SOCO Gallery is a contemporary art space and bookshop. The future Not Just Coffee location is the perfect addition and their new merchandise, made in partnership with Centennial Trading Company, is really cool.

Weird Empire pins are my favorite.

Weird Empire pins are my favorite.


Can we please take a moment to talk about how cute the new NJC Cold Brew Bike is?! My dream is for one day to see it come through our neighborhood...


Now back to the coffee. I have an unpopular opinion that may upset some folks: I don't like cold brew or iced coffee. Every time I order it I am disappointed or disgusted by it. 

That changed today.

Today was the first time I enjoyed cold brew. No sugar, no creamer, no other additives necessary. It was flavorful, smooth, and enjoyable.

Hey, Mr. DJ! | Cream Puff Records

Hey, Mr. DJ! | Cream Puff Records

One of my all time favorite food trucks, The Dumpling Lady, was at the celebration. I love nothing more than dumplings drenched in spicy Szechuan sauce on a hot summer day. Today my order consisted of shrimp and chicken dumplings and a bowl of spicy beef noodles. 


I was a sweaty mess eating my lunch but it was well worth it! Thankfully, there was a bucket full of Lenny Boy beer to help take down the heat a bit.


Before we knew it it was time to head out to event number three: Mixology with Bob Peters at Earl's Grocery. We learned all about making classic cocktails and even got to try a few.


We were seated near the baked goods so I may have accidentally ordered a doughnut covered in grapefruit cardamon sugar. Oops.


But the day of eating was not over yet, oh no! There was ice cream to be had with Corri, one of my most favorite human beings. 

In my opinion, Elizabeth Creamery is a local treasure. Family owned, homemade, and delicious. Need I say more?

I ordered my favorite: a scoop of black cherry in a waffle cone. A sweet ending to a sweet afternoon.



Before heading back to the 'burbs, I picked up a whole chicken and three sides at Viva Chicken to take down to the pool for dinner. We got rained out but it didn't stop us from enjoying our delicious Peruvian dinner.


And that, my friends, is how you gain ten pounds in one day.




Charlotte Eats: Ararat 17

All of the local Russian Facebook groups have been buzzing about a new Armenian restaurant that opened recently in Matthews so naturally we had to check it out ourselves.

Ararat17 is located in a strip mall, next to a Harris Teeter, as most great restaurants do. The name is inspired by Mount Ararat and 2017, the year that the restaurant opened. The space is small, however, they are rumored to be planning an expansion into the space next door. 


The menu is large and spans Armenian, Georgian, Mediterranean, and Russian cuisines. The pricing is reasonable and the portions are generous.

Here's what we ordered on this visit:

A bottle of Revah Pomegranate wine from, you guessed it, Armenia.


Our first course was Tabbuli, one of my absolute favorite salads.

Tabbuli | Chopped parsley, onions, mint, diced tomatoes, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, & cracked wheat.

Tabbuli | Chopped parsley, onions, mint, diced tomatoes, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, & cracked wheat.

The second course consisted of two meat pies. We originally ordered the Khinkali (Georgian dumplings) but they were all out. Next time!

Meat Pie | Stuffed with ground beef.

Meat Pie | Stuffed with ground beef.

We tried two entrees: Cornish chicken tabaka and fresh sturgeon shish kabobs. The chicken was perfectly cooked and inspired me to re-create the recipe at home. The sturgeon was served with a sauce that was amazing and I forgot to ask what it was. All I know is that it is a reduction of some sort of a fruit.

Cornish Chicken Tabaka 

Cornish Chicken Tabaka 

Fresh Sturgeon Shish Kabob

Fresh Sturgeon Shish Kabob

Each entree is served with three sides and we tried as many as we could: hummus, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, french fries (for the toddler!), and rice balls.

The standout stars were rice balls and coleslaw. Yes, slaw! It's another dish I will try to re-create at home: cabbage, green apple, carrots, corn, and parsley tossed in a house dressing. Yum.

For dessert we ordered the chef's special. We didn't catch the name of the dessert but as soon as we took a bite we were transported back in time. It was almost identical to a cake my grandmother use to make for special occasions and holidays. It was a lovely trip down memory lane and a sweet way to end a great meal.


We're already planning our next visit, this time with a larger group so we can try even more menu items and share them family style.



Weekend Eats: Brunch at Napa on Providence

It's been a while since I've had a proper brunch since having the baby so when I saw two friends tweeting about brunch, I jumped into the conversation. After sliding into each others' DMs, we set a date.

A proper brunch requires a proper restaurant. Napa on Providence is one of my all time favorite spots because they have bottomless mimosas and a large menu that pleases most.

We started out with a round of waters and coffee:


Then we proceeded to order non-brunch food...

I've had their daily quiche before and highly recommended it (it's HUGE!) but wanted to try something different this time. I ordered the Salem Hills Farm steak burger and subbed out the fries for breakfast potatoes. It was delicious. My only complaint is that the bun fell apart before I could finish my burger. 


The burger was topped with white cheddar cheese, applewood smoked bacon, mesclun greens, tomato, crispy onions, and sriracha aioli. 


After almost five hours, we decided to return back to reality and head back to our adult responsibility. 

Brunch mission accomplished.


Have you been to Napa on Providence? If so, what's your favorite item on the menu?

Charlotte Eats: Haberdish

Y'all, I'm obsessed with Haberdish in NoDa. If given the choice, we would eat there every time we find ourselves in the area.

Haberdish serves southern inspired food, including killer fried chicken and homemade hot sauce. And, in addition to great food, they have fantastic cocktails. The space is beautifully designed and a photographer's dream. (And a genius marketing move because the urge to Instagram ALL THE THINGS is hard to resist.)


I recently introduced my mom to their food and I have a feeling we'll be back, a lot.

Here's what we drank and ate on our most recent visit...

Spring Fever: El Jimador resposado, lime, jalapeno, ginger beer, black cardamon vanilla orange syrup, topped with cilantro.


You can request a flower ice ball with most cocktails.


Ransom Gin Smash: Old Tom Ransom Gin, mint, sugar, flaked ice.


Hushpuppies served with sweet tea butter.


Fried Chicken Half: brined, battered, and fried.


Daily Pickles: Spicy Herb


Daily Hot Side: roasted cauliflower mash with cheddar, scallions, and chives.



Charlotte loves the hot sauce, the large windows, and free wi-fi:


Have you been to Haberdish? If so, what's your favorite dish/cocktail?


Dinner at Eez + a Train Concert

I'm never not craving sushi and I'm never not celebrating my birthday without a roll, or five, because that's just how I roll. 

Sushi jokes? I've got 'em!

One of my favorite places for sushi is Eez Fusion & Sushi in Huntersville. The services is great, the fish is fresh, and the unique menu caters to everyone (even those who do not like sushi!). It's a safe and delicious choice.

Here's what we drank and ate...

That Mezcal Drank: mezcal, cilantro, citrus juice, soda, agave and harissa.


Spicy Poke Dip: spicy tuna poke with salmon and yellowtail, seaweed salad, served with wonton chips.


Pork Potstickers: 10 pork potstickers with ginger citrus dipping sauce.


And then I built my own roll, to match my blog's name, because that's just who I am as a person. ;)

I call this one The Birch. 

Inner: white fish, mint, inari (sweet tofu)
Wrapper: seaweed
Rice: white
Outer: Tobiko

The flavor combination is definitely unique and a first for me. It is sweet, salty, and savory.


Tropical Storm Roll: kani, avocado and cucumber inside, topped with yellowfin tuna, salmon, yellowtail, Japanese mayo, sweet eel sauce, sriracha and tobiko. Served with wasabi yuzu


Cash Money Roll: tempura salmon, cucumber, cilantro and spicy mayo inside, topped with avocado, cashews, mango salsa and sweet eel sauce. Served with ponzu dipping sauce


Chef's Deluxe Sushimi Mix.


Not pictured: miso soup and the Skinny Gonzales drink.

It was a lovely dinner with my mom, Brandon, and Charlotte. We enjoyed the food and watching Charlotte eating spicy poke and sashimi with chopsticks. I'm still in awe that my child loves sushi but not mac and cheese.


We skipped dessert because we were so full! We took a walk around Birkdale and popped into a few stores before heading home.


We live near PNC Music Pavilion and pass it on the way home. There was heavy traffic near the venue so we knew there was a concert happening. A quick search on Google revealed that it was OAR and Train. 

I had a rather difficult week and an impromptu adventure was just what the doctor ordered. We bought tickets from a re-seller on the street for $20 dollars, found an amazing parking spot, and an awesome spot on the lawn. Our Monkey Picnic Blanket came in handy...


I've always enjoyed Train's music and that evening was no different. Honestly, I didn't realize how many hits they had, or how the lyrics were just what I needed to hear at that moment, or just long it's been since Brandon and I have been to a show together.



What's your favorite roll at Eez? Have you ever created your own? If so, what was it made out of?


An Afternoon in NoDa: a Grand Opening & a Tray of Oysters

Saturday morning I joined my friend Erin for the grand opening celebration of Salud Cerveceria, a small brewery located on the second floor of Salud Beer Shop and FūD at Salud. It's a beautiful space that incldues artwork by local artists, comfortable booths and chairs, a shuffleboard table, fresh flowers, and areas with natural light perfect for taking photos.

We arrived early to ensure a spot at the bar and to welcome Lindsay back to NoDa with the opening of Trade & Lore. The coffee shop resides inside Salud and is open from 9am till 3pm everyday.

I went 'old school' with my order and got the Pistachio Rosewater Latte:


Our second beverage was the Green Drank, a Peruvian inspired soda:


My final drink at Salud was a grand opening day special: an Oreo flavored imperial stout topped with black whipped cream and a thick slice of bacon. Y'all. It was decadent and fun and had a much higher ABV than expected. 



Needless to say, we were tipsy and high on sugar, a fun combination.

I can see myself spending many of my days working from the space while drinking coffee or beer and I look forward to doing just that once my little one starts day school this fall.


We closed our tab and walked down to Growlers for oysters and rose.

Sea Level, NC

Sea Level, NC

It was a lovely afternoon with friends that I would like to repeat over and over again.


Have you been to Salud Cerverceria or Trade & Lore? If so, what is your favorite drink?