Things to do in Charlotte (part 1) **Updated March 2016**

Monday, April 28, 2014

So Food Truck Friday has completely revamped this year.
They just started back up this March and I have yet to visit this new and improved event.
So this blog post is kinda sorta outdated now

But here's what I know:

***New location!***
2161 Hawkins St. Charlotte, NC 

 This new location is beautiful! And now they feature live music, family friendly events, a beer garden, dog's perfect!
I have yet to visit this new and improved food truck friday, but I'll be sure to report my findings!

Read on to hear about my personal experiences with Food Truck Friday :)


Do you love food? How about eating outside? Is sitting in a cheap lawn chair while drinking a cold one with friends an activity you enjoy partaking in? Well do I have a surprise for you.

YES! It exists. Several food trucks gathered in one parking lot to serve you all the greasy, fried food your your soon to be unhealthy heart desires. <3
Every Friday evening from 5-9 in downtown Charlotte, there is a really fun event called Food Truck Friday. College kids, young families, adult'll find a little bit of everyone here. Because who doesn't love soul food on a Friday night!?

My all time favorite is most definitely the 'Grilled Cheese Truck'...

If this isn't the best grilled cheese your taste buds have ever experienced, let me know. I'll pay for your hotel and flight to come with me on my next adventure.

Everyone walks right across the street to a craft beer store to buy the booze. It's really eccentric inside, has a lot of neat decorations and a cool atmosphere. Good vibes.  It's called the Common Market - be sure to check it out if you want an icy cold beverage with your meal!

A few tips for Food Truck Friday:
- Parking is limited. There should be meter spaces on the side of the road within a few blocks.
Be prepared to walk. Or- take the local train! It stops right in front of the area.

- The lines will be long and look daunting but trust me, they move quick. (and the food is so worth it)

- There are picnic tables available but they fill up first and fast. Bring your own lawn chairs or a picnic blanket! It's funner anyway :)

- Rain or Shine! So wear a poncho. I have a few from my honeymoon you can borrow.

And for dessert?

The Southern Cupcake Queen. She makes the most delicious cupcakes! Piece of advice: she sells out of cupcakes quicker than you can say sprinkles. So unless you want a brownie or piece of cheesecake, hit up her truck first!



This has been a popular pin on Pinterest and since this blog post is almost a year old I decided it needed an update. A year later and we STILL go to this Food Truck Friday event! It's become an entertainment staple. Whenever we have friends or family in town for the weekend we always take them here. They love it.

There are now 13 food trucks - almost double than there was when I originally wrote this post! And they announced on Facebook this past weekend that on Friday they had a record crowd - every single truck sold out of everything they had. Wow.

My favorite new 'truck' - even though he was more of a tiny cooler on wheels - was the up and coming Charlotte King of Pops. He makes the most delicious all natural popsicles...raspberry lime is to die for.

Hope to see you out at the trucks! :)

Spring Activites in Charlotte

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Summer is awesome but has some days where you can't do anything because of the heat. Fall is alright in the beginning but after your 18th pumpkin spice latte it quickly fades into 'Ok let's get winter over with.' Then of course Winter is always flat out 3 months too long.....but then there's Spring.

Ahh the best season of them all. There's no better sight than the first buds on trees and tulips starting to poke through the ground. There's also no better feeling than being able to roll your windows down and cruise to Drunk in Love by Beyonce your favorite song...

And of course with nice weather brings outdoor adventures! Time to explore new areas you never knew existed both near and far. My favorite activity in the world. All pun intended.

In pictures, this is what my free spirit has been up to lately.

Mitch & I took a trip to Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, NC where he got nominated for Selfie of the Year award. The animals are free roaming at this animal park and come up to your car, stick their head in looking for food, possibly give you a nice slobbery kiss on the face (totally not joking) then move on to the next car. If you have kids, go here. They won't know what to think.

I'm a huge fan of Kombucha tea. Also known as 'Vinegar Tea' for it's strong taste. (Don't knock it til' ya try it!) So when I became aware of a Kombucha Bar in downtown Charlotte I was ecstatic. Mitch & I dropped in for a glass one weekend and it was so much fun! They gave me the coolest little taste-test tray to try all of their flavors. It's actually at a local Kombucha brewery so while you sip on fresh Kombucha you can watch them make it through the big glass windows! Cannot wait to return here. If you ever find yourself in the Charlotte area and love Kombucha & craft beer, make sure you hit up Lenny Boy Tea

Took a walk by myself at our local Greenway. Collected flowers like I used to when I was little. Felt 8 years old again. Loved it.

Came to the realization that I am obsessed with early Spring, Pink Peach trees. Also came to the realization that it's almost time to eat my body weight in peaches.

Attempted to catch a nice Southern large mouth bass on numerous occasions.

Failed every time so I fed my worms to my new friends

OH MY GOD, went to see Zac Brown Band!! In Georgia. on a Friday night. Wore a jean jacket that fit just right. and turned my radio uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup.
Made my famous Chef Stef's Southern Sun tea since it's finally hot out again! Recipe: Fill jug with filtered water, place  5 black tea bags in the water, cover with foil, place in sun until tea is as black as you want it - serve. :)

My mom & I took a weekend trip to Charleston, SC and visited the gorgeous Magnolia Plantation. So rich with history and beautifully landscaped gardens. They even have swamp lands that look straight out of a movie - alligators and all. If you're into spanish moss trees & flirtatious deer, this is your heaven!

 So that's whats up!
I won't lie, it was a rough transition moving down here last year. Not knowing anyone or anything. But now that I'm embracing the unknown and exploring everything I can, I'm having an absolute blast. Wouldn't have it any other way. Charlotte, NC as well as the entire South East has so much to offer....and I'm just getting started!

Stay Tuned <3

Destination Wedding: Do's & Dont's

Friday, April 18, 2014
Hey ya'll.
I can say ya'll now since I'm going on 1 year in South Carolina, right? ;)

So now that you know about my love for Key West, it's time you know something else about that wonderful place; I got hitched there. Yes you heard right. I walked down a wooden beach entrance in flip flops, shredding my expensive lace gown with every step I took as it got stuck on wood splinters. My beautiful, perfectly curled long hair immediately went flat when my toes met the sand. I mouthed my vows in 60 mph wind on the beach with sand grinding between my teeth and lips. Glorious day that was.


I've noticed it's a growing trend among us millennials to ditch the traditional church ceremony and opt for a wild, tropical destination shindig. Perhaps we're all becoming free spirits? ;)

One thing you should take note of before deciding on a destination wedding is that it will be a lot different. Like a lot. For instance, you won't be able to taste test food or cake. You won't be able to meet your photographer ahead of time. Sometimes you won't even see your wedding site until a couple days before the big day.
Needless to say, a destination wedding is not for the weak hearted. You need to be able to embrace the unexpected and be very prepared to roll with the punches.
While everyone's experience will be different depending on their budget, location, style, etc... I decided to share my experience with ya'll anyway to hopefully offer some good advice to you future wild newlyweds! Or if you're a seasoned spouse- some laughs at my experience.

On that note I give you:

  • Do:  Arrive at least a couple days early. This is so you can last minute meet with all of your vendors, file for a marriage license, check out the wedding site, drink a margarita or 8 because you're so damn nervous ya know...get situated.
  • Don't: Forget to wear sunscreen. Yeah, you guessed it. My spirit was a little too free when I arrived in Key West & I jumped on the back of that moped with a tank top and no SPF like it was my job. Yep I got tan lines on my back and Yes, I had a low cut back in my wedding gown. High 5 right here.

  • Do: Brace yourself for a pain-in-the-ass travel day if your dress is a carry on. I suggest doing this method rather than shipping it because imagine your dress getting lost in the mail a couple of days before your wedding? (Sidenote: I actually originally picked out a completely different dress but it got 'lost in the mail' in China 3 months before my wedding so I was forced to go with the one you see in my photos. PS. Don't shop at Davids Bridal. Have you ever held a wedding dress? Darn things weigh as much as a small child. Make sure you have someone to help you out when lugging it through the airport and placing it in the overheads. (Thanks mom) Pretty sure by the last connecting flight down to Key West my dress was scrunched up in the beverage cart next to empty coconut rum bottles.
  • Don't : Forget to smile at all of the strangers in the airport who will inevitably wish you well and ask all about your big day. By this point in time you've heard all the advice your mind can possibly take but it's so refreshing to have someone you've never met before wish you luck & be so kind. Even at 6:00AM going through the security line. I loved it. :)
*Note: I do not usually look like this at 6:00AM. Adrenaline + tanning beds.
  • Do: Your research. I mean read up on all of the laws, regulations and requirements to get married at your destination of choice. Luckily for us Florida's laws are not too strict so all we needed were birth certificates & SS cards. I think the only strict rule was you must get married within 30 days of filing for your license. I know it's a lot different when getting married in a different country, so be prepared well ahead of time! You'd be surprised at some of the laws out there. Blood test... what?
  • Don't: Forget to bring every single form of ID you own. Original copies, copies of copies. Bring it all! You never know when the Clerk of Courts is going to ask you for something you left at home and you sure as hell don't want to be without a marriage license the day before your wedding. I think I double checked my purse 8,039 times before our plane took off to make sure I had all of my ID's.

    About an hour of paperwork and being asked 'Are you sure?' 500 times...we got a marriage license

  • Do:  Relax. Everyone tells you this but really. Do yoga, take 20 minutes to yourself and walk around with your iPod, anything you need. You will want to be calm enough to not lose it if the cake arrives 4 minutes late or have an anxiety attack if you misplaced your expensive, only-made-for-your-dress bra. (Who me?) OH and EAT FOOD. This wasn't an issue for me (giant shrimp salad sandwich and fries for brunch, don't mind if I do) but I know sometimes nerves can get the best of your appetite. You certainly don't want to pass out on the beach in front of everyone. (this includes groups of tourists who will be watching and taking pictures as well)
  • Don't: Not eat or relax and become a bridezilla on steroids. It's so easy to let our emotions get the best of us when tensions are running high. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is lose it on a loved one on your special day. You don't want that memory to haunt you. When I woke up on the day of my wedding I made sure I acted like it was just a normal day. Mitch and I took the moped to Starbucks and sat slouched in our chairs sipping coffee, not saying much, while Blue Ocean Floor played overhead. We did this for probably a solid hour before we split up to get ready. It was perfect.

    5 hours before my wedding. Still wearing a tank top. Still not wearing SPF.

    • Do: Enjoy & embrace the wide range of emotions you're going to go through on your big day. Happy to sad. Scared to excited. Calm to anxious. It's a beautiful mess. Feel happy that you have people who love you enough to plan and save up to travel to your destination to support you on your big day. Feel sad that others just couldn't make it. Go ahead and allow yourself to be scared to say I do, but feel excited that you're ready to take on such a huge challenge. Finally, feel calm enough to smile and take in the moment, but anxious enough to want to get it over with run down the aisle to jump in your lover's arms. 
    • Don't: Have expectations. Well have a little, but don't expect them to happen. As I like to say, hope for the best but expect the worst. When I got engaged I envisioned me doing the harlem shake down the aisle  slowly walking down the beach in bare feet to an acoustic Zac Brown Band song with perfect hair and makeup. All eyes on me and Mitch. You know what happened? There was another wedding directly next to ours on the beach, I had to wear flip flops so I didn't get beer bottle glass in my feet, and a huge wind storm practically knocked me off my feet as I walked down that darn wooden beach entrance that tore up my dress. No one could hear our vows and my hair and makeup was donezo the second I stepped outside. Embrace.

      *Note: the shape of the palm trees and grass. This is me saying 'mom I can't walk my dress is stuck' and her saying: 'Well, shit.'

      • Do:  You did it! You're married! woohoo! Now relax and take realistic, natural looking photos! It's not easy. Emotions are still running high, trying to take it in that you're now a Mrs. (or a husband) and you get quickly ushered away from your friends and family to go take some expensive, professional photos. I will add that this is the one thing I'm glad I splurged on because to me, there's nothing more memorable than photos and you want them to be perfect. Back to the point. Ask your photographer if it's okay to take some time to chill before you dive into the photoshoot. We had to drive to a state park to take our photos so that was my time to kind of look out the window (at a monsoon outside thinking oh shit this better stop.) and chill. I also planned ahead and knew I would need to relax after the wedding so I brought my iPod and a little speaker so that I could play some fun music during the shoot. I think it worked out well....

        Photo by: Filda Konec Photography

        • Don't:  Be afraid to share your ideas with the photographer. Most of the time you want to be told where to stand, how to pose, etc. But throw your own flare in it! We originally planned to only take our photos on the beach but then I saw this enchanted looking forest nearby and brought it up to my photog who loved it! Your photographer should be very open to your ideas and you should be very open to share them. You will be happy with the results, I promise. :)


          •  Do: Splurge on activities you normally wouldn't do. We stayed in Key West for our honeymoon extravaganza and planned a dolphin trip, sunset dinner cruise, trip to the aquarium, all kinds of expensive fun stuff! To me the honeymoon is the best part of getting married. One of the most valid excuses to blow your money and go all out. You just endured an emotional roller coaster, let loose baby!
          • Don't: Go to a tropical place during rainy season. From our wedding day until the last day of our honeymoon, it rained. and poured. and stormed. and was cold. In all honesty, it sucked. Our dolphin tour got cancelled, there was no sunset on our dinner cruise, and we couldn't enjoy the outdoor aquarium because it was so rainy and cold. Had I known June was rainy season down there, I would have planned my wedding for a winter month in a heartbeat. Rain is good luck though, right? RIGHT!?


            Destination weddings are fantastic. They really are. They are the epitome of a grand adventure. If you thrive in chaos and crave excitement then this is the type of wedding for you. There truly isn't much I would change if I could go back and re-plan my wedding. My family got some great belly laughs at how windy my ceremony was, I got a nice refund on my credit card from the cancelled dolphin tour that really helped with moving the following week, and most of all, I discovered how there's something so rejuvenating about riding on a moped or sleeping in a hammock in the pouring rain. With all of the rainy days we were forced to stay cooped up in our hotel majority of the time but you know what? That was my favorite memory from the entire trip. Running around getting groceries as a married couple and cooking dinner in the hotel room. It was the first calm, peaceful moment that we could stop and sit in silence and say hey, you're my husband and I'm your wife. You ready for this adventure?

            I leave you with some shots from my perfectly imperfect Key West wedding. Please, if you have any more questions about planning a destination wedding, e-mail me or leave a comment! I would be over the moon thrilled to help you out.

            Hey kid, listen up. Don't have your wedding in Key West in June.

Key West.

Monday, April 14, 2014

At the Southernmost point in the continental USA, you will find a beautiful island known to attract free spirits and collect restless hearts. It is nicknamed the Conch Republic and is home to mile marker 0. It features an abundance of free roaming roosters and some of the most laid back people on earth.
Key West.

They say everywhere you travel you leave a little piece of your soul behind. Well I'm pretty sure half my heart is napping in a hammock under a palm tree at Fort Zachary Taylor.

My first trip to Key West was in 2007. I've made an effort to return every year, sometimes twice a year. There's just a feeling that you get on that island that I have never felt anywhere else. The energy is so positive and humble. You feel so carefree and...young again.

I hope everyone makes an effort to visit this magical island at least once in their lifetime. In honor of that wish, I've compiled a list of what I believe to be the......

1. Rent a Moped
This is the main form of transportation on the island but also the funnest. I mean it when I say there is no better feeling than cruising down S. Roosevelt Blvd with the sun on your face, ocean on your left and a beautiful line of palm trees on your right. I can promise you in that moment everything will feel right. It's also so much easier to get around town when you rent a moped instead of a car. Worried about rain? Buy a poncho and embrace the wet ;) PS. If you go in the summer months and mosquito salad is not your thing, bring something to cover your mouth.

2. Blue Heaven
This is the epitome of a 'hidden gem'. Tucked away on the outskirts of the main strip,  this restaurant/bar is worth the game of hide and seek you will inevitably play to find it. The food is out of this world and always so fresh. A cat will greet you at the hostess stand. There's the coolest outdoor bar (where Kenny Chesney shot his music video for 'The Good Stuff'), $2.00 outdoor showers (just go, you'll see) and a souvenir shop with fluffy key lime pies. Breakfast is what they're famous for - there will be a wait but it is oh so worth it. Excuse me while I go daydream of pink shrimp omelets.

3. Fort Zachary Taylor
Sounds kind of...boring, right?  Well let me tell you, it is one of the most beautiful, scenic places on not only the island of Key West but in all of the Florida Keys. I had my wedding photos shot here on a cloudy, rainy day and they still came out amazing. This is a State Park so you will pay a small fee to enter. The swimming is great, you can watch sailboats and cruise ships come in, BBQ, or just relax in a hammock under a palm tree and enjoy the warm ocean breeze. It's also one of the best spots to catch the sunset. Oh and it's where you will find that infamous Key West sign that tells you how many miles away you are from major cities. Go...just go.
*Not my kid

4. Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory
I know I use the word magical a lot but this place...there's just no other way to describe it. Magical. I went for my first time last June on my honeymoon and it was totally not what I expected. We went on a rainy day and it was the perfect escape. When you walk in it's like stepping into the rain forest. Soft spa music and humidity surround you while hundreds of butterflies of every color fly freely. If you have a kind spirit, perhaps 1 or 2 will land on you ;) I can't wait to go back here.
PS. Watch where you step

This guy camouflages himself to match an Owl's eye. Mind=blown.

5. Southernmost House
Now this place is a treasure. This home is so damn beautiful and is so rich in history. If you're in your mid-twenties and broke like me, it will be a huge splurge to stay here. Well worth it for at least one night though. Mitch & I stayed here for a couple nights on our honeymoon and it definitely felt like celebrity/VIP treatment. The hammocks by the pool on the beach were my favorite part. Along with a delicious breakfast of fresh cheese, fruit, and baked goods every morning. (The blueberry bagels were the Even if you aren't staying at this home, I believe you can still get a tour. If I were loaded I would have had my wedding here in a heart beat.

Just a casual nighttime swim in our pool right next to the ocean. NBD.

6. Key West Garden Club
Yet another hidden gem (Key West has a lot of those I'm just now realizing.) This is a place I will return to every single time I'm in town. No, not just because it's free. But because it's a place to escape the tourists and the hustle & bustle of the island. There are some absolutely gorgeous flowers and trees you never knew existed in this sanctuary. The most perfect white gazebo overlooking the ocean. Large iguanas hiding in the bushes hoping you don't find them. It's the best. Have your camera charged & ready!

7. East Martello Tower & Museum
Oh boy. Here we go. Raise your hand if you believe in ghosts! (raises hand so fast I smack the corner of the table then immediately turn my ghost radar on my iphone on) Well this place is not only full of Florida Keys history but it is home to ROBERT THE DOLL. Google it. Creepy as hell. Cool as ever. I will save the story for you to read on your own when you visit but it is a ghost lovers dream. Sorry, I can't post any photos for this one. You'll soon know why.
Fun Fact: The inhabitants of Key West have always believed in the supernatural and evil spirits dating back hundreds of years. For this reason,  you will notice nearly all of the homes in Key West that have a front porch will have the ceiling painted 'Haint Blue' (looks like a light sky blue color). This color is said to keep evil spirits from entering the home. Be sure to look when you go down there!

8. Hemingway Home
Yes, it is filled to the brim with cats in every corner. Yes, they all have 6 toes. And Yes, this is my future home. Let's be honest, Hemingway was a very talented and interesting dude but the tourists come for the cats. I go for the cats and the architecture/surrounding landscape of the home. Lots of history and beautiful interior decorations. Love how vintage everything inside the home is. It's also pretty amazing that things like sofas and beds are roped off and have strict rules of 'Do Not Touch' yet the cats are lounging around on the beds. On Hemingway's property, Cats rule & Humans drool.

brownie points to anyone who can tell me what a swiss cheese plant is

9. Margaritaville
So cliche! But this one is special. It is the original - the very first Margaritaville Jimmy Buffett opened and rumor has it you can sometimes find him here ;) The staff are always so fun and personable. The food, even though it is chain food, is still yummy. And you won't find a better hurricane drink! They often have live music too. Ok time for some coconut rum and Jimmy Buffett on Pandora.

10. Bahia Honda State Park
I believe in saving the best for last. This is a state park that is not on the island of Key West. It's about an hour North on Big Pine Key. So if you're flying in from Miami and driving to Key West - make sure you stop here. If you're flying into Key West, rent a car for a day and drive here. This beach offers some of the clearest waters in the keys, cabins for camping, kayaks for rent, snorkeling, and some of the most amazing views of their historic bridge. Not to mention it's usually always quiet and serene. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.


As the sun sets on this blog post (ha, see what I did there.) I hope I convinced you in the slightest bit to visit this treasure of an island.  I've made so many fond memories in this place, it's really close to my heart. I cannot wait to make more. It's by no means a luxurious white sand, pristine beach community, but I think that's what makes it so unique. It's perfectly imperfect....

     It feels like Home.

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