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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Girls Night In, Easy Appetizers - Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil, Two Ways!

Why is it that on the days you have something planned, the time always gets away from you? I'll have a girls night planned and will look up at the clock to find that it's 6pm and I'm going to be LATE! But of course, on the days where you have nothing planned that never happens! Whenever this happens I pull a recipe from my arsenal of easy apps so that I'm not rushing too much, and can get there and enjoy myself.

One of my favorite easy appetizers is skewered tomato, mozzarella, and basil. It's low calorie and carb-friendly for your girlfriends that are picky, and it looks gorgeous! Here are two ways to make them:

Recipe #1:

Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Skewers (total time, 10 minutes, feeds 4-6)

What you'll need:

1 package of cherry tomatoes

1 package of small mozzarella balls (can usually be found in the deli section with the fresh cheeses)

Balsamic glaze

Fresh basil

Skewers (10-15 wooden or plastic, there are eco- friendly ones that you can reuse as well)

The steps are so easy! After washing the tomatoes, start skewering them, and follow with a mozzarella ball and a piece of basil. Once you have finished making the skewers arrange them on a platter and drizzle with balsamic glaze. You can also season with salt and pepper if you like. Pair with a bottle of wine and you're all set- now you have time to finish your makeup!

I used balamic vinegar for these, the glaze is prettier!
Recipe #2:

Mozzarella and Basil filled Tomato Cups (total time, about 30 minutes, feeds 6-8)

What you'll need:

1 package of cherry tomatoes

String cheese (4-6 should be enough)

Balsamic glaze

Fresh basil

This version is a bit more time consuming, but looks amazing when put together! First, cut the top off the cherry tomotoes and cut just a tiny bit off the bottom to make the bottom flat so it doesn't fall over. Then scoop out the inside of the tomato to hollow it out. Put a piece of basil inside of the tomato cup so it sticks out almost like it's a leaf. Then, cut the string cheese width-wise to fit (about 1/4" should work). If the tomato cup is too small insert the mozzarella piece on it's side. After you've finished all of them, arrange on a platter and drizzle with balsamic glaze! Here's a photo of the finished tomato cups:

Substitute goat cheese for mozzarella if you want to change these up a bit!

Best Clothing Boutique in Uptown Charlotte - Ivy & Leo

The one thing I knew I'd miss about Raleigh was not being able to shop at my favorite boutiques - you know, the ones that carry only 5-6 of one item and have sales girls that not only remember your name, but exactly what you like and can offer suggestions. I know that Charlotte is known for having a great mall (that I have yet to go to), but I wanted to find what I had back home....and I did!

I stumbled across Ivy & Leo on my 2nd day, while exploring the city with my cousin and sister. It's located in Founder's Hall of the Bank of America Plaza. In case you've never been there, he's a photo of the Founder's Hall sign, it's at the corner of Tryon St and Trade St:

Ivy & Leo has two location in Charlotte, but I've only been to this one. They are constantly getting new shipments in which means you can always find something new, even if you venture there often! Plus, their clothes are relatively inexpensive- I picked up a dress for $35 last week!

LOVE this store!

I may have to go back for this necklace...
The store isn't big, but has a TON of different things, from maxi dresses, to formal one shoulder gauzy numbers to those lace mini shorts that you don't really need but should have anyway...the store is organized by style, so all strapless dresses are together, etc. I think that makes for easier shopping rather than having the store sorted by color. If you work up an appetite from all that shopping, treat yourself to a smoothie at Jamba Juice next door! Happy Shopping!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Basil Thai Restaurant - Charlotte, NC

When it comes to food, I have a weakness for ethnic cuisine, especially Thai food. Give me a chicken green curry that's so hot it's almost a challenge to eat it and I'm in heaven! There are a few Thai restaurants near me and I plan on trying all of them sometime soon to see how they stack up against each other. Yesterday I went to Basil, which is in uptown Charlotte and only 3 blocks from where I work. I got it to go, so no gorgeous food photos for you today, but I did take some photos of the restaurant itself:

Basil has a nice patio area that I plan to enjoy one day when it's not 100 degrees!

Gorgeous inside, love those barrel flower-like light fixtures!

Pineapple infused vodka...yum!

The green curry was the perfect balance of sweet and hot, and the lunch portion is pretty generous. They were slammed for lunch when I went at noon, so I suggest getting there early! It definitely a more upscale restaurant than the Thai places I've been to before, but my green curry was still very authentic, which can be lost if a restaurant goes too mainstream. Overall, the food was great, and I'd love to sit down next time...and I'll make sure to try a pineapple mojito as well!

Basil Thai Restaurant - 210 N Church St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Versa Salon & Spa - Charlotte, NC

I have been searching long and hard for a good hair salon in Charlotte. There are TON of salons in Charlotte, which makes picking a place very hard! I've also had a bad haircut or two in my day, so I'm almost as nervous to try out a new hair stylist as I am to go to the dentist! I asked around for a while, and heard good things about Versa Salon & Spa, which is an Aveda concept salon. I was a little fuzzy on what that meant, and found out that a concept salon has close alignment to the mission and vision of the Aveda brand. An Aveda concept salon uses only Aveda products throughout the whole salon, from the makeup to the hair products to even the dye! Pretty neat, right? Versa is in uptown Charlotte, on Pine St near 6th (beside the teeny Harris Teeter that I frequent, even though I know I'm going to get in a buggy accident one day because the store is SO tight!). My hair stylist, Autumn, was fantastic, and gave me a ton of suggestions for things to see and do in Charlotte. I was so relieved when she turned me around and showed me her work- it was exactly what I wanted, and the styling was perfect with not too much product (a pet peeve of mine)! Here are a few photos of the salon:

I just wanted to play in all the makeup!

One more thing to add, they have someone on staff that does threading. If you've never had your eyebrows threaded and have sensitive skin you should try it. It stings a bit more than waxing, but it doesn't give my skin the bumps and redness that I get from waxing. Excited to try this next time!

Versa Salon & Spa, 220 N Pine St, Charlotte, NC (704) 335-2277

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to make Burlap Curtains

So I am obsessed with vintage, shabby chic home decor, but for some reason everything I fall in love with costs an arm and a leg! Take these burlap curtains from Ballard Designs for example:

Curtains by Ballard Design
Love them, but they're $50-70 per panel! Yikes! The crafty part of me knew I could make these myself for a fraction of the cost. Burlap runs about $2/yard. When you measure the length from the curtain rod to the floor add about 10' so you have a little extra to play with. The burlap does have a barnyard kind of smell, so air it out on your porch for a few hours if it bothers you. I wanted to make these as simply as possible, so instead of sewing the hole for the curtain rod, I used Heat n Bond's iron on adhesive tape. For the bottom of the curtain panels you can do one of two things: 1) Hem them using the adhesive tape or 2) fringe them! Fringing them definitely takes some time, so sit down with a glass (or bottle) of wine when you do it. All you have to do is pull on the ends, and they will easily come out, leaving gorgeous fringe! About 6" or more looks good- you need enough that it's easy to see from far away. Once you finish the fringe use Fray Check's liquid seam sealant to prevent it from fringing further. Here are my finished curtains:

All done! I chose to hang mine with curtain hooks for that farmhouse feel

I added fun tassels to hold them back. In total, I made four panels. Total cost to make my burlap curtains...drum roll please..... $25! Money saved: $175!
Plus, what's better than being able to say "I made those!" when someone comments on them ;)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Plaza Midwood

My husband and I recently took the plunge and moved from Raleigh to Charlotte, NC.  Have you ever moved to a new city?  I swear, I don't think I've ever been more scared of something in my whole life!  We said goodbye to our wonderful friends, the house we had purchased just 15 months prior (why yes, I did almost kill my husband, thank you for asking!), and the security that came with living somewhere for a few years.  Raleigh really was a big security blanket for me, and there were a lot of tears before I was ready to say goodbye.

I have to admit though, I am loving Charlotte!  One of our first weeks here I saw this guy, and I knew I was going to love this place:

 We settled in Plaza Midwood, an eclectic neighborhood with lots of art galleries, restaurants, and shops.  It's only two miles from uptown Charlotte, which makes it easy to explore what Charlotte has to offer!  I still need to explore, but here are some photos of the neighborhood:

More on each place to come, I can't wait to get out there and explore this city!  As I do, I'll write about the places we go to, and what we thought of them!
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