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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