3 Things to Do (& lots to eat) in Asheville, NC

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

Hello! We are on our second post for the travel series I started last month. Pai and I love to to take mini trips, and we are gearing up for quite a few fun mini trips for this fall! On the itinerary includes a road trip this weekend to visit family on the M side with the final destination being the beach, a quick Labor Day Weekend trip to visit the blogging bestie, Erica, and aW family weekend getaway may be in the works.

One of my all-time favorite places to go is Asheville, North Carolina. I love the mountainous drive and the little town nestled in the mountains that is vibrant with hippie life and good food. When we are needing a day away, we just hop in our car and go to Asheville. Whenever someone comes to visit us, I usually suggest to go to Asheville.

My good blog friend Tiffany from Endless Bliss came to visit me this summer, so, of course, we spent the day in Asheville. So many brick walls. So many ice cream stands. Basically every blogger’s dream.

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

I’ve not yet uncovered all the wonders of Asheville, but as long as I can convince my husband we need a day away every now and then, I will continue to unearth all the goodness Asheville holds.

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

Battery Parks Book Exchange

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

I will never not talk about this magical place. It’s a two story book store with a couple mid levels with more bookshelves. There is lounge seating everywhere, a coffee bar, wine bar, beer on tap, and used books galore. I love it so much, my sister threw my bachelorette party here.

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge is basically world renown. They harvest their chocolate from primarily local farms, and import some of their chocolate from Latin American countries. They are public about their mission to harvest ethically sourced (aka, they pay their workers) cacao, so their step in the right direction makes the chocolate taste even better. And there are a thousand different types of chocolates you can get. My first time, I got the liquid truffle. It was literally a liquid truffle – it was so sweet that I had to dip a shortbread cookie in there and buy a cup of coffee to pour the leftovers in. Their dark chocolate ice cream is bomb, and my most recent adventure – the affogato was also amazing. They mixed two amazing things – espresso and ice cream. Hello.

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

The Orange Peel


If you like music in intimate venues, this is the place to go. I have seen a couple different concerts here over the years and I’m basically ruined for any other concert venue. Being in a smaller venue makes you feel like you’re there as the artist’s best friend.

Vortex Doughnuts


I found these guys on Instagram in college and drooled after their donuts so much that any time I am in Asheville and have a free hand, I grab one of these amazing donuts. Their Vortex is amazing, but they also have a beer batter donut that I had to try. Thank goodness, it didn’t taste like beer.

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

Sunnypoint Cafe

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

When Pai and I went on a little mini-moonda in February, we ate at the best brunch restaurant ever – Sunnypoint Cafe. The wait for the amazing food is two hours at peak time, but I did not even care. You can drink the best Guatemalan coffee (free refills!) while you wait, and you wait outside in this little garden area. The long wait forces you to talk to people and look at their cute dogs. And then when you get to the food, it’s so unbelievably worth it. 10/10 would recommend.

Other Amazing Places You Should Eat

Top Things to Do in Asheville, NC

The Creperie – Step into Paris (in Asheville) and enjoy an interesting flavored, savory crepe. I got a duck sausage and goat cheese crepe; I felt very fancy. I mainly just ate the duck sausage and the goat cheese and left the caramelized onions to marry the crepe.

Farmburger – build your own grass fed burger.

Doc Shays – Thai all day every day.

The Bier Garden – Where sweet potato fries are life.

Jersualem Garden Cafe – Y’all, we had a belly dancer as entertainment while we ate our falafel. It was priceless.

Next time I go to Asheville, I have my sights set on this place my good friend told me about called Well Played – a board game lounge where they serve adult sized snacks. Give me all the adult sized Capri Sun you can.

Have you been to Asheville before? What are your favorite things to do?

 

Adventures in July

Adventures in July

Remember when I told you that July was the first month Mr. M and I have spent in over a year not traveling anywhere?

Well, I lied.

Or I forgot, rather.

It wasn’t until I was looking over the month of July in my planner that I realized we drove to 3 states¬†all in one weekend to celebrate love (a wedding) and family (a quick family getaway.)

To top that off, we had cousins come in town one weekend in July and we went to Asheville, NC for a day trip.

One day maybe we’ll spend an entire month located in one place. But this isn’t the day.

July felt like it was 10 miles long, so I’m quite excited to see August greeting us with cooler breezes and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and notebooks. The schools in the area all start back this week, so I have the itch to go out and buy a new pack of pens just to join in the fun.

A Wedding in the Storm

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To start off July, we ventured over to Gatlinburg and drove all around windy roads to the tippy top of a mountain for a gorgeous wedding with gorgeous views. It was my first outside wedding during a thunderstorm, but thankfully it didn’t rain too hard and the thunder only rumbled ominously from afar. But hey, at least they got gorgeous ceremony pictures because everyone says the gray skies are better for photos than the sunshine. I loved getting to wear this gorgeous Zimbabwean print skirt that my MIL gifted me for my birthday last year.

3 States, 1 Weekend

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After we went to Gatlinburg, we ventured up another windy mountain to stay in a hostel with both of our families. This was the first time Mr. M’s family and my family has spent an extensive amount of time together. My dad found a hostel on air bnb that fit both of our big families for a fun weekend. It was so cool to see our families come together and love on each other, laugh with each other, and get to know each other better. We spent one of the days in Abingdon, VA riding 17 (of the 34!) miles of the Creeper Trail – a gorgeous bike trail with tree canopies lining your way. We’re lazy, so we only did half the trail. But boy, was my booty hurting by the end of those 17 miles. It was so relaxing to let go and enjoy nature. Also, trying to take the above picture was a tidbit dangerous.

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

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Except we did go chasing waterfalls and it was a blast. Mr. M made us be adventurous one Monday evening – a Monday evening of all evenings! – and find a waterfall with friends. Thankfully, the waterfall required 0 hiking effort, so we quickly climbed down the trail and spent a frigid evening splashing and playing in the water.

Asheville

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When we had cousins come in town for a weekend of fun, we took them to my favorite fun place: Asheville. Here’s a picture of me standing next to a door. Because bloggers do weird ish.

We ate at a delicious creperie where I tried goat cheese, duck sausage crepe and I probably won’t try it again. We did our usual thing, eat, go to a bookstore, and get chocolate at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, where I tried a new fav – an affogato. Because what doesn’t say YAY like putting ice cream in your espresso shot.

July was a great month to rest, relax, and still go on a couple of adventures. Like always, this is the highlight reel. If you want to know what happened on the pages in between, I’ll tell you. But it wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of laundry, a lot of Netflix, and a few emotional breakdowns because that’s just how I roll.

Tell me, what was your favorite thing about July? 

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to do in Panama City

Yesterday I pulled out my journal and wrote down every place Pai and I have traveled to since December. In the 7 months we’ve been married, we’ve traveled to 9 different cities and 7 states together. That’s a city for every month and then some! I’m excited to start a mini travel series on my blog to document our travels and tell you about all the fun things to do in the Eastern United States. You can expect to find a different travel post on the 3rd Wednesday of the month for the next few months.

Today I’m sharing all about what you should do in Panama City Beach, Florida.¬†

When we first started thinking about honeymooning in PCB, I was hesitant because all I only knew it as the spring break capitol of the South. Fun fact: I used to think Panama City Beach was in Panama below Texas. Clearly those private school geography classes didn’t help. Panama City is in Florida, and Panama is below Mexico, not Texas. Woops.

My first advice to couples for their honeymooning adventures is DON’T GO ANYWHERE SUPER BUSY. We received this excellent advice from our friends who went to Disney and while they had fun at Disney, they said they were exhausted. Pai and I threw a party for 350 people, so a quiet and relaxing week was exactly what we needed.

We went to Panama City in December, so most of the fun things to do were closed. I wanted to swim with dolphins and go snorkling, but both attractions were closed for the winter, so we had to find other fun things to do.

7 Things to do in Panama City

Explore Panama City

On the first day of the honeymoon, we ventured off the beach front and into the heart of Panama City. The city is rich with history and has a great little downtown area to walk around. We found a little place called Willows Tea Room where we went for high tea and enjoyed an English Breakfast Tea and scones. But let me tell you – this little place was delicious but the scones were teeny and the staff wasn’t very friendly. Pai tried to get another scone since it was our honeymoon and the lady wouldn’t let us. Clearly she didn’t believe in young love. . .

7 Things to Do in Panama City

Eat all the Seafood

Neither Pai nor I grew up eating a lot of fish, but being right on the ocean, we knew we had to take advantage of the fresh fish around us. One of my favorite restaurants we ate at was Runaway Island right on the beach. We went for a late dinner and even though we couldn’t¬†see the ocean, we could hear the waves lapping on the sand as we enjoyed our crab cakes and blackened snapper. The food was absolutely amazing and we received excellent service from the waitstaff. While it was a long wait because there was an entire (drunken) party, we enjoyed the ambiance of stringed lights on the back porch of the restaurant.

Go on a Food Tour

Pai and I have noticed a theme when we go places. We may do some fun activities, but we mostly eat. I think we’re slowly turning Pai into a foodie. We signed up to do a walking food tour and it was one of our favorite days of the week. Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the area and loved food as much as we did. On the tour with us was a family from Missouri who loved to laugh a lot, so we had an excellent time. While on our food tour, we visited four places in Panama City.

Our first stop was at the Capt’s Table. At the Capt’s Table we tried she crab soup – which I absolutely LOVED, a smoked tuna dip – ALSO AMAZING, and the good old fashioned shrimp n’ grits. This was the day I discovered that I liked hush puppies. Yum.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

The only non-food stop on our food tour was at a local publishing company. I, of course, was in awe of the whole thing. The printing press was still in use and we were able to see the employees making stamped Christmas cards for a Christmas party someone was having. We learned all about the history of the printing press and the captain who founded the place, but of course I can remember none of it because that was seven months ago.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

Probably my very favorite food stop was this hippie hole in the wall called Little Village/Finn’s Island Style Grub. This place had outdoor seating with flaps for when it rains and there were tons of hipsters sitting around enjoying a nice brew. We ate quesadillas and this amazing black bean rice cilantro mix that I’ve never quite been able to get out my head. With our meal we were given a blood orange cider that – oh my word – made me fall in love with blood oranges.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

After the Capt’s Table, we ventured on over to Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Grill and Brewhouse for dessert as the sun set over the water. The views were gorgeous and the keylime pie was divine. Unfortunately for Pai, he didn’t pace himself very well, so by the time we arrived at Uncle Ernie’s he was rather full which meant, fortunately for me, I got more of the keylime pie.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

The tour took about two hours and left us fat and happy, so we didn’t need to eat again until about 10pm when it was time for a midnight snack. If you’re ever in Panama, I would highly recommend. You can sign up for the Beck Avenue Food Tour here.

Do Nothing

Hello? You’re on a beach with white sands and clear blue water. Lay on that beach and do absolutely nothing! OK so I really wanted to get a cupcake one day and take a picture with the cupcake and the ocean and the background and caption it, “Cake by the Ocean” since that song was oh-so popular last year. Pai thought I was absolutely ridiculous so we didn’t buy cake just for the picture. Maybe next time, though. . . Fun fact about the seagull below – this guy kept trying to eat our food. Pai had run back to the condo to get something and while he was gone, this seagull called all its other seagull friends and I was absolutely surrounded. They wanted the Cheetos and I didn’t want to share. It was a terrifying experience.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

See the Dunes

We adventured out to a highly recommended restaurant called The Donut Hole one morning and had an amazing breakfast. We got protein packed breakfasts and donuts for the road. I’m never going to say no to a recommended donut. On our way back to our condo, though, we drove on Hwy 98 and took the scenic route home. While taking the scenic route, we came upon a state park with gorgeous sand dunes, so we moseyed on over and walked on the quietest, whitest beach with these gorgeous sand dunes we were explicitly told¬†not¬†to climb on. Bummer.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

 

Go to Seaside

Remember the Truman Show? Well the Truman Show was filmed in Seaside, FL – the most perfect little town you ever did see. The beach houses in this little place sell for millions of dollars, or you can air bnb one for a couple grand for a night. We decided to just go with biking around the place for the afternoon. We found the house that Truman lived in, but weren’t able to take a picture because there was a car behind us so we couldn’t stop. It was our favorite day of the honeymoon. We biked around the town, stopped for ice cream, perused a book shop (you know me) and walked along the beach.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

7 Things to Do in Panama City

*Note: Husband’s don’t appreciate taking ice cream pics before eating said ice cream.

A Few Other Things. . . 

Although we spent most of our time exploring, eating, and hanging out in the condo, there was still a lot to do that we didn’t get to. Panama City has a Dave & Buster’s, an Imax movie theater, and Destin is only an hour away. Fudpuckers in Destin, FL is SO much fun and would highly recommend. There is one in particular that has alligators in a moat like thing surrounding the restaurant, so you basically get to eat with the alligators. One night, Fudpuckers had a karaoke contest that I was super tempted to try, but we didn’t drive the hour at 9pm because we were too exhausted.

7 Things to Do in Panama City

Have you been to Panama City before? What is your favorite thing to do?

2 Little Ways to Breathe Easier this Week

do 1 important thing

Millennials are the generation of self-care. We believe in self-care because we believe that in order to raise to our full potential, we have to take care of ourselves. What a foreign thought. You’ll read self-help and self-care blogs that say lots of things. Drink water first thing in the morning, do a face mask in the evening. Eat healthy. Put down those french fries (NEVER!) You get the gist. But I have a new idea and it involves procrastination.

Implement Little Things Throughout Your Day

In the summers at my job I get half days on Fridays. It’s an amazing morale booster. I can’t believe how I ever do anything working 8-5 M-F during the rest of the three seasons because I get¬†so much done on those half day Fridays. Granted, the first two half days or so I spend lazing on the couch watching Netflix. But then the rest of the summer I ban myself from Netflix and make myself do something productive and I never regret it.

I’m the type of person to get quickly overwhelmed by chores, mess and chaos when there is already a lot going on in my life. I’ve started implementing little things throughout my day to make the rest of my life more enjoyable.

i.e. Making the bed in the morning – I am much more likely to keep a clean bedroom if our bed is already made. Or I will do the dishes right after a meal rather than letting them pile up and doing them at the end of the day. When I let the dishes pile, I get overwhelmed by the amount and procrastinate which creates more dishes. . . and more dishes. . . and more. . . and you know how it goes. Suddenly I’m spending an hour scrubbing oatmeal off yesterday’s breakfast dish and I’m not a happy person.

By implementing these little things that I’m doing throughout my day and throughout my week, I find that I have the brain space and energy to accomplish the bigger tasks.

do 1 important thing

Accomplish the Bigger Tasks

There have been 2 chores on my monthly goal list since January that didn’t get accomplished until this month. I eventually stopped putting them on my to-do list because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t carve out the time to get it done.

Our dining room and office both looked like the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There were wedding gifts (that still) needed to be returned, items that needed to be taken to the local thrift store, etc. It was such an overwhelming venture that I kept putting it off and putting it off until one day I just decided I have to do it.¬†I didn’t try to do both of them at once. Instead, one day in a frenzy, I cleared off our dining room table that hadn’t been used since we got married one night when I realized we needed more eating space. I piled everything that needed to be sorted through and made the room look semi-decent. That allowed me to go back into the room a few days later and knock everything out in 4 Gilmore Girls episodes.

With the dining room cleared, I gained momentum. This weekend I coerced my husband with a few episodes of our favorite TV show and ice cream as a reward to go through paper piles with me in our office. Now all I have to do is go in there on another day and clear out the stuff that needs to go into storage or to the local thrift store. It is a huge task if I try to do it all in one fell swoop, but I break it up by doing one important thing in each day.

Do 1 Important Thing

When I do one important thing, I waltz into the next day feeling relaxed and motivated to do something else. It’s amazing how the momentum keeps going!¬†Rather than stockpile and procrastinate like I tend to do, I’ve noticed that doing one important thing each day gives me the space to breathe. Some days it’s cleaning out an entire room, some days it’s dusting the furniture in the whole house. Other days it’s taking a bubble bath and reading a good book or spending some quiet time journaling.

Whatever your one important thing is, stop procrastinate. Like Shia LeBeouf says, JUST DO IT.

2 Ways to Breathe Easier this Week

The Benefits of Joining a Book Club

Benefits of Joining a Book Club

I strongly believe in literature. The best way to pass time is with an iced coffee in the summer/hot latte in the winter, and a great book in your hand. When I was 5, I sat on the couch with my mom – who valiantly homeschooled me for two years before my dad begged her to give up homeschooling and ship my social butterfly self off to a public school – practicing phonics and learning to read. As soon as I started, I was “hooked on phonics.” Ha. Get it? Anyway, I love reading and can spend many an hour submerged in an alternate universe. In fact, I would get in trouble as a child for reading too much. If I was supposed to clean my room, maybe I would clean for a little bit, but then I would get distracted by reading. Whoops.

There was a time or two I legitimately was grounded from reading. Now that I’m an adult and married, I can read all I want – as long as I feed and water my husband daily.

Two years ago, I graduated with a B.A in English with an emphasis in creative writing.¬†It is my lifelong dream to get paid to drink coffee, read, and discuss literature. Ever since I graduated, I wanted to start a book club. So as soon as life settled down (aka I wasn’t wedding planning anymore) I started the book club, A Novel Idea. I can’t take credit for the name; I googled clever titles.

Once a month/once every six weeks, between 6-10 women meet up at a local coffee shop, book in hand, caffeinated, ready to discuss our most recent pick.

I knew I needed intellectual discussion to enlighten my life, and I must say I leave quite invigorated from our book club meetings.

The Benefits of Joining a Book Club

The benefits of a book club are immense.

First of all, you discover new genres you didn’t know you liked.

Book clubs are a great way to pull you out of your literary comfort zone. While I love a good poet, I’m not one to pick out a collection of poems for a book club. But as some of the ladies in our group were going through finals week, we picked¬†Milk and Honey one month and I found it to be one of our favorite reads. Each of us came armed with a poem and our analysis of it, and I was in awe of how we each picked apart our respective poems.

You see the world through multiple lenses.  

One of my favorite things about getting together in groups is the discussion that lights a fire under our idealogies. Because I come from a liberal arts background, I prefer to learn through engaging in discussion rather than a lecture based atmosphere. An aspect I enjoy about book clubs is that we see something one way, and someone else comes at it from a different perspective. Our personal stories shade the way we view the world, and the way which we view literature. We get to grow and honor each other as we learn to see through someone else’s lense.

Likewise, books open our eyes to see the world a different way. We recently finished¬†Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I absolutely adore her writing style, but even more so, I appreciate that she speaks so vulnerably about something like immigration and the cultural nuances¬†between the American and Non-American Black. As a white lady in the South, if I’m not surrounded by diversity, ¬†I’m not going to know or understand immigration or the cultures associated without opening a book (or a journal article, etc.)

Your vocabulary expands. 

For instance, I can now identify when a Coquette. Of course, I could always identify when a lady was particularly flirty, but if I had not read “Lady Susan” recently, I would not associate “coquette” with a flirt because I didn’t even know the word “coquette” existed until yesterday. Had I not taken the moment to look up this new word, I would have assumed “coquette” was the same as “etiquette” because they sound similar. Thank goodness for smart phones, because now we have a dictionary at the flash of a few typed letters. Back in the olden days, I had to get off my couch, pick up the dictionary and thumb through an actual hard copy of a dictionary.

(I am now envisioning Rory Gilmore’s dismay at the smart phone; no one appreciates the old OED anymore! Remember when her dad tried to buy her the entire Oxford English Dictionary set? I kind of drooled at that scene.)

You form deeper relationships. 

There are friends, and then there are book club friends. When you have traipsed through the emotional roller coaster of an intense 600 page novel, you emerge finding yourself in a deeper community. I loved all the ladies in my book club, but now that we have been together for going on six months, exploring the depths of our society, femininity, and racial tensions through the written word, I am acknowledging a relationship that can only come from sharing a love for literature and discussion of novels and the world around us.

Benefits of Joining a Book Club

I am, of course, feeling slightly romantic as I type because I signed up to audit a Jane Austen seminar for the next month. It will be like a book club on steroids and give me the nostalgia for my collegiate days. I set up in our dining room last night surrounded by notebooks, books, pens, high lighters, and of course potato chips, and coffee, and fell in love with learning all over again (much like I do each time I open a good book.)

I will do my darndest to be consistent with posting in this little corner that I love so much, but if you find that I’ve fallen off the earth, never fear, I’ve fallen into the arms of Mr. Darcy. (Mr. Darcy, consequently, being my super supportive husband who encourages me to chase my dreams and is very appreciative of this course I’m auditing because it means I will be holed up in our dining room, allowing him more FIFA time.)

Until then, I bid you adieu.

Have you ever participated in a book club?
What are your top 3 favorite reads?