Friday, October 12, 2018

Weekend Guide to Asheville, NC


This was one of my favorite weekends to date! Asheville is just a short two hour drive from Charlotte, and the perfect weekend getaway destination. Bailey and I got to bring the boys with us for this trip, and it truly made one for the books! There's so much to do in Asheville, you'll find one of the best brewery scenes on the east coast, lots of farm to table local restaurants, and stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains all around you. I've put together the perfect guide (based off our own activities while visiting) to a weekend in Asheville for you and your travel companions! 

STAY

 For this trip, we stayed at the Hyatt Place Asheville Downtown! This was my first time staying at this hotel, and I loved it. It's conveniently located just a short walk from over 200 locally owned shops, restaurants and entertainment venues in the downtown area of the city! Rooms were artfully decorated (pictured above), and either had a view of downtown or the Blue Ridge Mountains. Bailey and I were lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay in both the bridal and grooms suites and they were by far some of the coolest rooms we've ever stayed in! They were spacious, full of luxury, and honestly like mini apartments. The hotels hospitality was fantastic, breakfast was included in our stay daily, and the hotel's lobby had it's own coffee bar with locally produced snacks at hand - if you know me, you know this was a highlight! I can't go without mentioning the hotels own rooftop bar, The Montford. The Montford serves up artisanal small plates, craft cocktails, and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge mountains - make sure to check this spot out.


EAT

The food scene in Asheville is spectacular! You really can't go wrong here but let me highlight a few of my favorites. 

The Montford Rooftop Bar // As mentioned above, this spot is located at the top of the Hyatt Place hotel and boasts some of the best restaurant views we've seen in Asheville to date. A contemporary, rustic speakeasy, offering craft cocktails and small plates. Some of our food favorites here were the tater tots, bison meatballs, and sausage flat bread. Don't miss out on the smoking gun either! I would recommend this if you're looking for a more casual, laid back dinner & drinks scene.

Curate // Asheville's number one rated restaurant! We had dinner here our second night, and it was all that it was cracked up to be. This is another small plates joint, offering some of Spain's finest and most authentic cuisine. I loved this whole experience! Make sure to book a reservation as early as possible and this spot rarely has room for walk-ins and reservations can be hard to come by last minute. 

Old Europe // Let's be honest, this guide wouldn't be complete if I didn't find a great local coffee shop in town. We randomly stumbled upon this place in search of a good iced coffee to combat the heat and we struck gold! This spot makes authentic European desserts and pastries daily, and the coffee didn't disappoint either. It's a cozy little spot perfect for an afternoon break! 

The Corner Kitchen // This is the cutest little restaurant located in the Biltmore Village. The village itself has been dubbed historic, and is filled with cozy little shops and restaurants. We did Sunday brunch here and the menu consisted of lots of southern "mommas" fare. 

Tupelo Honey Cafe // Asheville is home to Tupelo Honey's first ever location! Scratch made southern food at it's finest, this place is the perfect brunch location. We have one here in Charlotte, but there's nothing like visiting the OG of brunch while in Asheville. If you take me up on my recommendation, make sure to order the sweet potato pancake - it does not disappoint. Anticipate a longer wait time here as this is a popular location!


DO

Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. // Okay, I'm not even a beer drinker and I loved this place and really can't wait to go back! If this isn't on your list of to-do's go ahead and add it in! Let me just start off by saying the food is actually really good here too, we had lunch here on Saturday of our trip but since I was mentioning it here under activities, I skipped adding it under the food category. They have corn hole, live music, bocce ball, and obviously lots of Sierra Nevada beer. I recommend setting aside a half day for this as it's located just outside of Asheville.

Biltmore Estate // If you've never been to Asheville, this is a iconic must do in the city. The Biltmore Estate is a mansion built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in the 1800's and the largest privately owned house in the United States. Guided tours take you through all the rooms of the home, there is an on-site vineyard with wine tasting opportunities, an equestrian center and much more. This does require the purchase of a ticket. 

Go Shopping Downtown // If you're staying at the Hyatt Place Asheville, downtown is walking distance from the hotel. Asheville is known for it's local artists and designs, cool indie wear, and vintage boutiques. If you're into the artsy things, you should spend an hour or so checking these places out. If you're in search of art specifically, I hear the River Arts District is the place to be. We haven't experienced this personally, but it's on our list for next time.

Cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway // This 469 mile scenic route between Virginia and North Carolina is stunning no matter what time of year you are visiting, but during fall it's absolutely spectacular. Expect panoramic views of the mountains, wildlife, and foliage for days! It's also home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails if you prefer to take in natures beauty on foot. I have hiked around the Blue Ridge Mountains, but not in Asheville so I cannot recommend a specific trail just yet but will update once I've experienced this here. They also offer guided tours for this!



WEAR

Asheville is pretty casual in terms of attire. It's one of America's best outdoor towns so you'll notice lots of hiking gear, flannel, jeans, and athletic wear. If you're headed out to dinner, jeans are still appropriate - I just dressed mine up with a simple blouse and heels, or a fancier slide if you're not a fan of the added height. 

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*In partnership with Hyatt Place Asheville Downtown. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Girl Talk Tuesday: All About That Hair










Alright, let's be honest - I don't talk about my hair a lot around here and there's a reason for that. I used to have the most beautiful, long, shiny, healthy hair until about a year before our wedding. Truth is, I'm still not really sure what happened at that point - I had super healthy hair, and then all of a sudden I didn't. My best guess is that I had just tried low lights for the first time, and my hair felt sticky and tough to comb through shortly after that. It felt like either my hair didn't take well to the low lights, or out of nowhere I had a ton of product build up in it. Either way, I was in such a hurry with life and all the things going on around me that I didn't really take it seriously until it was too late.  Within a matter of 8 weeks, I had a ton of breakage, my hair felt brittle and thin, and it honestly was in the worst shape it's ever been in. 

So, with that being said -- I've spent the last two years in what I like to call "hair rehab." This means I no longer blow dry my hair (I let it air dry), I don't wash it regularly (three times a week seems to be the magic number), and I pay close attention to what I'm putting in my hair weekly. If you are up to date on the latest beauty trends, then you may be familiar with the benefits of charcoal for not only your skin, but your hair as well. It's all the rage right now! Charcoal masks, charcoal teeth whitening, and now charcoal shampoo and conditioner. Since charcoal has done well for me within other beauty products, I decided to give Pantene's new Charcoal Collection Shampoo and Conditioner (available at Amazon) a try! Because build up is one of my main concerns, I focus on using a clarifying shampoo and conditioner to strip my hair of all the products I've used between washes. It's important to find a shampoo that can remove impurities in your hair, dirt, gunk from products, and reset the Ph balance of your scalp in order to prevent breakage! And trust me when I say, you want to avoid breakage at all costs - it takes years for your hair to regrow once the damage is done and even when it does, it may never grow back as beautiful as it was pre-damage. So why Pantene? Their new Activated Charcoal line is a nutrient blend containing activated charcoal, pro vitamin B5, and antioxidants that act like a magnet to cleanse the hair and scalp by getting rid of impurities, leaving your hair silky, soft and smooth. If you're a regular reader of TCB, then you also know I've made a recent effort to get rid of toxic self care products, and this particular Pantene line is free of silicone, parabens, and dyes. So it fits right in with my mantra! Long story short, I wish I would have known to use a clarifying shampoo and conditioner from the start! It makes perfect sense, if you're not washing your hair regularly and using lots of dry shampoo and styling products on a regular basis -- build up will happen. Take my advice and save yourself the hassle later on! Your hair will thank you.

I'm also really excited to share a promotion Amazon is running until October 31. Click here, use the promo code "20PNTCHARC" to receive 20% off the Charcoal Collection Shampoo and Conditioner (530ml) when purchased together.

*Thank you to Pantene for sponsoring today's post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The 3 Best Apps For Editing Photos









Alright friends, I'm a little behind on blog posts! Last week was crazy packed with events and commitments, so I never really had the time to sit down and write - and when I did, I honestly felt fried and uninspired because I was exhausted from the weeks festivities. So on that note, today I'm talking about the three apps I use to edit photos on my phone. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is about editing photos, and the apps I use to do so. So what better way to explain than in a blog post?! My process is pretty simple, but let's dive into it. 

1. Lightroom CC // This is what I start with. I load all my "favorited" photos into the app (they have a desktop version too), and then start with the photo I like most of the set. I don't use a preset, and like to see what the auto function does to my photo, so I start by clicking "auto".  I'm never a huge fan of how the "auto" function makes my photo look, but it's a starting point. From there I adjust the exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, whites, and blacks. Typically I go up on exposure, down on highlights, up on shadows, down on whites, and down on blacks. From there, I adjust the colors in the photos under the "color" tab. I have Blonde hair, and different lighting situations can make it look yellow - so I normally pull the yellow tints out of the photo here. Next I move over to the "clarity" tab and go up on clarity, and up on the dehaze function. I like my photos to have depth in color, and dehaze helps create that. From here, I export my photo into my camera roll. 

2. Snapseed // I've been using Snapseed a lot less lately, and working with mainly Lightroom because Snapseed has been acting up on my phone. I think it's a storage related issue, but for the purpose of this blog post I will run you through what I would typically do in Snapseed. After importing the photo I just worked on in Lightroom CC, I go to "tools", then "tune image", and typically bump up the brightness slightly, followed by bumping up the ambiance. Next, I export the photo to my camera roll.

3. Facetune 2 // I like using Facetune to make details pop. You can play around with the different options to see what works for you, but I typically use the "details" and "vibrance" feature within the app the most. If I want a certain item in my photo to really stand out, these two features help do so. This is the last step in the editing process for me. 

That's it, you now have the secrets to the sauce! As I mentioned above, I don't use a preset - so I edit every photo based on it's individual needs. If I'm editing a set of photos that were all taken in the same spot however, I typically just copy the settings from the first photo I edited and layer it over the others to make life easier. Let me know if you have any questions! 

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Monday, September 24, 2018

How To Save Money on Travel











If you're new around here, let me tell ya about my travel schedule. I've been traveling the world since I was old enough to remember, my dad is in the cruise line industry and has been since I was born. So, in order for my family to be together as well, a family - we had to travel to wherever he was in the world. I've spent an entire summer on a cruise ship, been to every continent except Africa and Asia, crossed over the equator upwards of four times, seen Patagonia in real life, and the list goes on. As a child, you don't really understand what a precious thing travel is until you grow up, PTO becomes limited, and you can't just jet off for a month over Christmas break. Life is different, but my urge to travel hasn't changed a bit. Fortunately for me, I've figured out a way to continue to travel through different avenues without the burdening cost associated with exploring the world. So today, I wanted to share a few tips I've learned along the way that help make traveling more cost effective. Please note, I am not an expert at this and do not claim to be, these are just tips and tricks that have helped me be able to travel more often at a lower cost. Let's get started. 

1.  Get a credit card with hotel and flight rewards // This is one of the easiest ways to fly for free. Here is my strategy: I have the American Airlines Barclay card. When I worked in sales, I used this card for every single client expense I had which allowed me to rack up thousands of air miles. When I stopped working, I still wanted to reap the benefits of those air miles, so I started using the card for my every day expenses. Just make sure to pay off the card each month! So long as you do, it can only be of benefit to you. Additionally, typically when you open the card they automatically reward you with 50,000+ miles after spending around $2,500 in qualifying purchases. That's enough for one round trip ticket just for opening the card. I also receive two $99 buddy passes per year with this card when I spend a certain dollar amount on it (the amount differs depending on what card you choose). This means, two people can fly round trip for $99 on the same flight as me. This comes in super handy when Shane, my sister, and I are all going to see my family in Seattle. Essentially, I purchase a full price ticket, tack on their $99 tickets, and we split it three ways for a much lower total ticket cost for the three of us - also a great option for families. 

2. Be Loyal to a specific airline and hotel group // We are Marriott and American Airlines people, and here is why. Do I love American Airlines? If I'm being honest, not really. BUT, they have the monopoly in Charlotte in terms of flight patterns and times (they are based out of Charlotte), and my credit card is with them so it benefits me to stick with them as I'm earning miles via the frequent flyer program, AND for the purchase of the flight on my credit card. Over time, these build up quicker than you think. My husband travels for work, and only stays at Marriott properties. We also have the Marriott Rewards credit card, which gives you 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of opening the card - which is easy to do if you travel for work. If you don't travel for work, the card also works anywhere so you could use it on your daily expenses till you hit the $3k mark for the points. It has additional benefits as well, which you can find here

3. Be flexible with days and times // If you have the flexibility with your job and PTO, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days of the week to fly. If you are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn, early morning flights (the 6 AM usually) and red-eyes are always less than a peak time flight. 

4. No checked bag? Use Skiplagged // You may know about this, but it's a game changer if you're not checking a bag. Skiplagged offers "hidden city ticketing." Essentially, you are booking a flight past your destination with a stopover in your final destination. Prime example, we are heading to Breckenridge, Colorado for Thanksgiving and are flying on miles on the way. On our way back, the miles shot up to 50K for one way due it being a popular travel day, so we purchased a one way Skiplagged flight for $200 with a final destination in Nashville, even though we are getting off in Charlotte at the stopover. The one way ticket cost directly with the airlines was double the price.  

5. Clear your cookies // Travel sites watch your pattern of behavior while surfing the web. This means that if you're searching for a flight to New York, it remembers that you're looking into going to New York and will potentially raise the prices on you after you search the same pattern a few times. Prime example of this, I was booking a flight to Boston a few days ago and had searched for the specific dates, times, and locations without clearing my cookies on my laptop several times - I pulled up the same exact flight pattern info into the AA app on my phone which I had not used to search prior to this, and the pricing was much lower on my phone than my laptop for the same days and times. I cleared my cookies, opened Chrome instead of Safari and voila my laptop showed the same pricing as my phone. 

6. Book flights on the weekends // Studies show that flights booked on weekends typically price 19% less than flights booked during the week. There isn't really a definitive rhyme or reason behind this, it's just a trend that seems to be accurate.

That's all for today! Cheers to new adventures, and more money in your pocket. Speaking of travel, Shane and I are headed to the Bahamas this week - lots to do before we take off! Curious, are ya'll interested in seeing content from the Bahamas? I know we are all in full fall mode, and if it's not of interest to you - well then, I don't want to bore you! Let me know in the comments or send me a DM on Instagram. 

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Friday, September 21, 2018

What To Pack For a Fall Weekend Trip to New York City











It's no secret I just visited New York City for fashion week, but outside of the blog related travel to the city of dreams - it's actually one of our favorite long weekend destinations. Whether you are visiting for a girls weekend, or exploring with your significant other, this city has lots to offer! So what do you pack for a long weekend in New York? Packing for a 2-3 day trip should be easy right? Well, easier said than done! Personally, New York can be intimidating. It's the land of models and celebrities, and all the trendy vibes my sweet home town of Charlotte doesn't really acknowledge, which left me wondering what the heck to pack! After several trips a year, I've finally figured out the secret sauce to seamlessly transitioning my outfits from day to night, and fitting in perfectly while utilizing items I already have in my closet. So let's get packing!

1. Moto Jacket // I've had this jacket for years, and it never fails me. New York can be unpredictable weather wise, and this jacket provides the perfect layer for outdoor exploring around the city. It also pairs perfectly with your airport #ootd, so no need to pack it because you can throw it on over your outfit on the day of travel. 

2. Jeans // New York is edgy and trendy, so I'd recommend a "wear with anything" black jean as pictured above. However, if black isn't your color, try a pair of distressed jeans like these. The city is big, and the key is being comfortable while still fashionable. 

3. Boots or Booties // My favorite time of year to visit the city is in the fall/winter. There's just something magical about that place in the snow, but it also means your feet are going to be cold. So it's essential to find a pair of boots or booties that fit the bill. These photos were taken just before fall, so suede booties like these are a fantastic option. They're comfortable, easy to walk in, and chic. However, if you're visiting during a more snow prone month, I'd opt for a leather version that's more water resistant like these that I wore in NYC the weekend we got engaged!

4.  Lace Top // Lace tops and bodysuits are all the rage right now. New York is a little fancy at night, so you need something pretty and feminine like the pictured top for an evening out. 

5. Takara or Spanx Leggings // Easy to pack, don't take up much space, and so versatile! If you don't own either of these, consider investing in them even outside of a NYC trip. They will last you for years, and you'll get more than your fair share of wear out of them. Street style is a real thing in the city, so I recommend pairing these with a fashionable sneaker, longer t-shirt top, and the moto jacket above or a cute bomber jacket and aviators. 

6. Adidas // Trust me when I say, your dogs will be barking by the end of your trip! NYC is massive, and it's way quicker to walk everywhere than it is to wait on a cab. Hence, the Adidas. I opted for these as often as I could. They're also lightweight, so they don't take up much room in your suitcase, and again you can wear them with your airport #ootd to save space. 

7. Graphic Tee // This layers perfectly under the moto jacket, with jeans, and the Takara leggings. Options are endless, plus your cool girl vibe just went up. Try this one. 

8. Sweater // It's fall, so sweaters are always appropriate - especially in New York. Since you're already packing a pair of jeans, and a pair of leggings, pick a sweater that goes with both like this one so you have two ways to wear it (although I'm loving the burnt orange in this one.) Sweaters are easy to wear during the day with jeans and booties, and perfect to dress up at night with leggings and OTK boots. 

9. Long Line Coat // A New York City staple. Perfect for dressing up in the evenings over your leggings and sweater, and if you're really trying to fit in with the trend - plaid is the way to go this year. I have this one in my cart!

Alright babes, you're all set for the perfect long weekend in the big apple! Shane and I are looking at making another trip up there this December, so I'll be packing all of the above myself. Have a great weekend!

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