Date Night at Dilworth Tasting Room

There’s nothing I love more than checking out a new place for a date night. So I was thrilled when Dilworth Tasting Room opened up right around the corner from my South End apartment (bonus points for being walking distance)! The inside has a sort of old world glamour feel that you can’t find many places in Charlotte.

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After a quick glass of champagne at the bar, we beelined for the extensive wine wall (obviously). 

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Within seconds of being there, we were greeted by the friendliest waitress who answered all of our questions about wine. And trust me, we had a lot. After recommending a French Bordeaux, we took a seat and ordered a cheese plate. Honestly, what more could you want?

Wine, cheese, cool place? This place hit all of my date night essentials and I’m sure it will for you too. Can’t wait for some warmer weather so we can check out that killer back patio! 

In case you didn't see this above... I MEAN. Heaven.

In case you didn't see this above... I MEAN. Heaven.

My Favorite Books This Summer

I am a GIANT book nerd. Always have been, always will be. I was the kid in elementary school that loved AR tests. I lived for them. I got no bigger thrill than reading a 10 point book and acing the test in the library. I'm not sure why they don't have adult AR tests (someone make that happen). 

Even dorkier- I've always been a huge fan of the classics. All of them- Bronte, Austen, Fitzgerald, Dickens, Bradbury, you name it. I've devoured it. The only other thing I love as much as classic literature is a good, EASY summer read. I love girly novels. And anything about Paris or London. And I have been flying through books by the pool this summer. Here are my picks:

1. Pretty Girls 

2. I'll See You In Paris 

3. Me Before You 

4. After You 

5. A Paris Apartment 

6. The Woman In Cabin 10

Breakfast in Charlotte: Sunflour Baking Company

Sunflour Baking Company on East Blvd. is my new favorite place for breakfast on the weekend. Here’s why:

Sunflour Baking Co Sign

This place made me happy the instant I stepped into it. It’s buzzing with positive energy. Almost every table was occupied and the line to order was long, but it didn’t matter because everyone in this place was in a good mood. How could you not be when you have cases filled with all sorts of sweets and giant breakfast pastries? (I saw a child walk by with a cinnamon roll that was legitimately bigger than her face.)

CInnamon Roll
Cupcake Case Sunflour
Cheesecake bakery case
Vegan Brownie Bakery Case

If you see the long line as a negative- don’t. You’re going to need some extra time to decide what you want. The whole menu is mouth-watering. Whether you’re in the mood for sweet or savory- they’ve got you covered. I (of course) was in the mood for both.

No joke, I ate a chocolate croissant while I waited for my breakfast sandwiches (yes, plural) to be ready. A chocolate croissant can be an appetizer, right? Probably… if it’s not the size of a small puppy. Which this one is.

Croissant Sunflour Baking

To round out the meal I ordered a provolone, spinach, egg, and roasted tomato on sourdough (the bread is amazing and so fresh), and an egg, bacon, and cheddar with avocado on a croissant. BEST DECISION EVER. The bacon, egg and cheese was like a gift from the Gods. Order it.

Bacon Egg Cheese Sunflour

They’re also serving up all sorts of Pure Intentions/Counter Culture coffee concoctions, and I am not complaining.

Sunflour Coffee Menu
Coffee Signs Sunflour

 

After eating 3 breakfasts in one sitting, I figured sampling the lunch menu was a little aggressive. But rest assured, I will be back for one (or all) of these paninis.

Panini Menu Sunflour

My 36-hour food and drink schedule for friends coming into Charlotte for the weekend

Having friends in town to visit is equal parts excitement and stress. If you’ve got a weekend’s worth of visiting time, and if it’s their first time to Charlotte, you want to cram as much into those limited hours as possible.

And because I’m an obnoxiously food-centric person, this is my guide to showing your visitor the Queen City through food.

Friday night: Fahrenheit

Hit them with some city views and possibly some lobster tacos. Definitely a Moscow Mule. Bonus: you might see someone famous. (Made eye contact with Lebron James a few weeks ago at the bar, pretty sure we’re best friends now).

 

Photo via the Fahrenheit-Charlotte Facebook page

 

Saturday morning: Peculiar Rabbit

Order the chicken & waffles, cure your hangover, and show them a bit of Plaza Midwood. Service can be a bit slow, but at least that gives you time for more mimosas.

 

Saturday lunch: Ten Park Lanes & Suarez Bakery

Most out-of-towners are surprised that we hang out at a bowling alley. I definitely was when I first moved here.

Order the fried pickles and build your own Stacked Jar. Give them a little tour of Montford, then head on over to Park Road Shopping Center.

Run, do not walk, to Suarez Bakery.

Pro tip: Order the Fleur de Sel Brownie and some Cannoli.

 

 

Saturday afternoon/night: Sycamore Brewing

Take a walk on the rail trail, walk off those baked goods, then stop at Sycamore for a beer or three. If the Gyro Twins food truck is there, order the spanikopita and fries (they taste just like McDonald’s and I am so ok with that).

This gives you a more casual transition into the evening instead of having to leave again for another sit down meal. Drink, eat, listen to music, and figure out your game plan for the night.

 

Sunday morning: Tupelo Honey Cafe

Their brunch is killer and has something for everyone — not to mention some banging brunch cocktails. I ordered the Fried Chicken Salad, because then I could say I ate a salad for lunch…

 

Bonus spots: 

Coffee: I always choose Amelie’s for new visitors. The decor alone is enough to pique your guests interests, and it’s a great excuse to sneak in a macaron. Take a spin around NoDa and show them all the creativity Charlotte has to offer.

 

Weekday visitors: My favorite weekday lunch spot to take a friend is 7th Street Market. Let your visitor wander and take it all in, and then insist on Orrman’s Cheese Shop for a grilled cheese with smoked mozzarella, prosciutto and roasted red peppers on rosemary focaccia. Take a Not Just Coffee vanilla sugar latte to go.

 

My last tip: Go to the gym on Monday.

Valentine's Day Gift Guide

I've never been a huge Valentine's Day Girl. I think the best Valentine's Day I've ever had was centered around tacos and Harry Potter movies on my couch. But I do love a good present. And I also love giving presents. Any excuse there is, I get presents for people. To be honest I think I can be kind of overbearing. But this holiday is a valid excuse so I'm giving you a few tips on what to get for the special man in your life! 

1. For the Business Man : Tayroc TXMI054 Watch

 

I bought one of these for my guy (yet another random present) and I've seen it on his wrist s often since! It's relatively inexpensive as far as watches go, and it looks pretty swanky. Despite it's light price tag, the watch itself is super sturdy. 

 

2. For the Outdoorsman: the Mountain Daypack from Topo Designs

 

I am in love with Topo Designs products. They are all so visually attractive and trendy, but also super functional. This backpack is great if your guy loves to go hiking. For Valentine's Day, I would pack it full with his favorite candies and little love notes or boxers with hearts on them! The possibilities are endless. Use it as if it was a stocking. If you're not a fan of the brighter colors, they have other products in solid, darker colors that are equally as cool. 

 

3. For the 'Manscaper" : Emmerson Joseph Gift Card

 

Everybody likes their man looking cleaned up. If you're in the Charlotte area, a gift card for Emmerson Jospeh is my go-to. It's $44 for a straight razor shave which is something you don't see very often anymore. It's a men's "grooming lounge" so that it doesn't feel like a task to get a haircut like it usually is. There's a speakeasy, they offer drinks and cigars... it's all very manly. I think this is an awesome way to treat your special someone with an old school treat that will make them look super suave. Added bonus for him? All the stylists are smokin' hot. (Disclaimer: I didn't know this when I got a gift card for my boyfriend, but he was thrilled. If you're worried your man is going to run away with his hairdresser than you probably shouldn't be buying him Valentine's Day gifts anyway.) 

If you're not in the Charlotte, NC area, try The Art of Shaving. If you still can't find a location, order a shaving kit!

4. For the slightly scandalous: Tommy John's Valentine's Boxer/Sock Set 

So this really isn't all that scandalous, but I wouldn't buy boxers and socks for someone your casually dating. They might head for the hills. Too intimate. Has anyone tried these boxers/know someone who has? I don't know if they work, but I saw a hilarious commercial for them the other night. They're supposed to keep all the junk in place so guys don't have to *adjust* themselves in public. Not quite sure how it works, but it sounds like a win win for everyone. Side note: I've been looking for heart socks EVERYWHERE and this is the first place i've found a pair that fit the bill. Aka they're not women's heart socks... 

5. For the Comic: 'You've Stolen a Pizza My Heart' Shirt

I bought this. For myself. Guilty. I'm actually giving it to my boyfriend for Valentine's Day, but I got an XL so that I could steal it and sleep in it. Very thoughtful of me right? I know. It's $10! Target also has a ton of other funny Valentine's related T's if this one doesn't cut it for you.

6. For the Wine Lover: Handsome Devil Wine 

Again, $10! So I'm not sure how good the wine actually is, but the name is just too fitting. Make a little note that says "Handsome Devil for my handsome devil ;)" Talk about ROMANCE. Crack this baby open fireside and you've got yourself a dreamy V Day. 

(This is also available at Target, but only in stores. I am a target junkie in case you haven't already noticed) 

7. For the guy who loves to cook: Sur La Table Cooking Classes

If your guy loves to cook, hold on to him. Mine does not. But alas, I love him despite his flaws. Plus it means I get to cook more, which I'm totally ok with. Sur La Table offers divine cooking classes for couples and is also basically mecca. It would be a great date night experience for the two of you to do something together! 

 

 

A Weekend at The Four Seasons Orlando & HARRY POTTER WORLD.

I have the best big sister in the world, let me just say that first. Now that you know that let me tell you why. Besides the fact that she is just an amazing person as well as a huge inspiration behind a lot of what I do, she took me to Harry Potter World for my birthday. HARRY POTTER WORLD PEOPLE. If you know me, you know how huge that was for me. If you don't know me, let me clue you in. I'm a huge Potter Head. I've read all of the books 7 times. You heard me, 7. Go ahead- judge me. It won't stop me from proudly knowing Dumbledor's full name. 

The cherry on top? The Four Seasons Orlando was hosting us for the weekend. Which meant that I could dork my face off at the theme park with my sister and then come back and drink frozen cocktails in the lazy river. Yes, they have a lazy river, and it is oh so lazy in the best way possible. So lazy in fact, that upon requesting, someone delivered us our beverages to the side of the lazy river as we mosied by- without having to get out of our tubes! Talk. About. Service.

Lazy River. Heaven. 

Lazy River. Heaven. 

Handwritten note welcoming us 

Handwritten note welcoming us 

 

I had been to The Four Seasons Vail multiple times before, so I knew that The Four Seasons didn't skimp on any details. But I had never been hosted by The Four Seasons for my birthday. And I'll tell you what, I felt like a Queen for a weekend. After our first day at the park we returned to our room to find they had left a surprise Harry Potter birthday cake for me! It's like they knew all of my hearts desires before I even knew them. 

Literally 5 minutes later...

Literally 5 minutes later...

 

Our second day at the park was quite possibly the best day of my life. I walked through Hogwarts, escaped from Gringotts, and spent half my life's savings in Honey Dukes (totally worth it- had to get as many chocolate frogs as possible). 

My Favorite Ride: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Hands down. It was around 85 degrees when we got to the park (at 9 am) and I was already starting to sweat, so I was absolutely dreading the lines that awaited me. But thank God for this ride because the whole line is inside! And it's interactive, so you don't feel like you're waiting in line. Honestly it'd genius and I don't understand why every single ride doesn't follow suit. Waiting in line consisted of taking a tour of Hogwarts. We traveled through classrooms and there were holograms of Harry, Ron and Hermione that talked to you as you walked by. And the ride itself was mind blowing. It was 4D, and I won't spoil all of it for you... but at one point my 32 year old sister and I we screaming "OH MY GOD WE'RE PLAYING QUIDDITCH". I'll leave it at that. 

First glimpse of HOGWARTS

First glimpse of HOGWARTS


After a full day of not acting our age, we returned to The Four Seasons exhausted and craving pizza and beer. Very dainty of us, I know. We almost cried when we saw there was no pizza on any of the menus. But one quick call downstairs and behold! Pizza and a 6 pack of Bud Light appeared at out door. Almost like magic (wink, wink).


As the night came to a close, we watched the fireworks out of our bedroom window. In the morning, we checked out of our room but decided to take advantage of some spa time. We stored our bags for a few hours and blissed out in their to die for spa. If it was socially acceptable to live my life in one of their spa robes- I would. 

We gathered up our bags and just as we were about to walk out the door I realized I had made a crucial mistake. I hadn't gone to Lickety Split for Gelato! Lickety Split is in the lobby of The Four Seasons, and with the sweet tooth that I have, it had been calling my name all weekend. So I made us come dangerously close to missing our flight in order to eat this divine mixed berry & pistachio combo. Well worth the risk. 

Inside of Lickety Split- love everything about this look.

Inside of Lickety Split- love everything about this look.

As one last sweet surprise, we were upgraded to first class on our flight home! And you know what that means? Free cocktails. 

 

I can not say thank you enough to my big sister (aka thisphotographerslife) and The Four Seasons Orlando for the best birthday to date. We'll be back! 

 

A few bonus pictures: