Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Dunhill Hotel and The Asbury

I had the recent pleasure of heading to Charlotte for a weekend, and was given the opportunity to stay at The Dunhill Hotel and eat dinner at The Asbury, the incredible modern southern restaurant on site.

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The hotel accommodations were available to us at a discounted rate, and our dinner was comped, with us adding just a few essentials. Like dessert. The Asbury's pastry chef is very well-known, and you'd be a fool to pass up any of her creations.

My friend Kate of Life of a Ginger and I can't say thank you enough to the staff for ensuring that our stay and our meal were both phenomenal.

The hotel is pretty. I loved the decor. Offering the perfect mix of boutique and historical design throughout, The Dunhill Hotel is a destination in and of itself, not just the 'place you stay' when you're in town.

The staff is so friendly and accommodating. The room was perfect. Beautifully designed, super comfortable, and they even left us chocolates! (If you look closely you can see them on the bed on the left.)

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We had planned to stop at the bar after the concert, but honestly? I was still full from dinner. But even the bar is cozy. There's no intensity. No fast pace or super crowded battle for a drink. It's just the perfect place to sit and relax while sipping your beverage of choice. I'll definitely be stopping by the next time I'm in town.

hotel, restaurant, Charlotte, North Carolina, historical hotel, downtown Charlotte, good eats, Southern cooking

Now. Let me tell you about dinner.

You guys. The food.

Let me tell you about the food.

The Asbury has the perfect set-up with an upscale but casual atmosphere. The artwork is stunning. It's a small restaurant on-site, right off the lobby of the hotel. And the staff is super friendly and really helpful.

And even if all of that were not the case? I'd still go back.

Because.

Look.

At.

The.

Food.

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Now, I know what you're thinking.

First, did I actually eat ALL of that?

No. No, I did not.

And second, some of that stuff looks like regular food.

Yes. Yes, I know what it looks like.

The unfortunate thing about blogging is that there's no way to express exactly how food TASTES. And goodness, y'all. This. Food. Was. AMAZING.

From the upper left-hand corner of this collage, let me introduce you to much of my meal.

I ordered the Daily Cast Iron Biscuits, which were, as The Asbury describes them, "Chef's whim" style. Which means the chef changes how they serve these daily. Or whenever they want. And thankfully this particular day included delicious preserves and just gloriously fluffy drop biscuits. Guys, I ate two of them. At the table.

And then I brought the other two home for Monday's breakfast. I kid you not.

Next you'll find the appetizer that Kate tried. I was unable to steal any from her as they were pork belly beignets - and I don't eat pork. But they were pork belly and pimiento cheese beignets, and she said they were fantastic.

Continuing clockwise you'll find my main entrée. I ordered the Fried Chicken Sammy and found myself enjoying the most tender and delicious chicken sandwich I've ever had. I'll get back to what I ordered with them. This side needs its own special spotlight.

And lastly, dessert. I wasn't going to do it. I was already quite full. But I had to. And so. I did.

I ordered the Miso Blondie. It came with caramelized white chocolate, miso butterscotch and vanilla ice cream. I'm not usually a blondie fan. I'm all about the brownies, honestly, but the waitress suggested this was her favorite, and so I followed her advice. And I'm glad I did.

Now. One step back for a second, because the Brussels sprouts? Deserve a full post of their own. But I'm not going to go that intense on y'all. Instead I'll show you a close-up and leave it at that.

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These Brussels sprouts were made with black garlic aioli, toasted peanuts and dried cherries. And they were the most amazing thing I've ever eaten. No question. I wanted to see if I could get a tub of them to take home with me, but thought it might not make it home if I did. 

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If you can't already tell, I really recommend staying at The Dunhill the next time you're planning a trip to Charlotte. And whether you're doing an overnight in town, or just passing through, be sure to head over to The Asbury for a meal you'll never forget. You'll thank me - I'm quite sure of it.

* My stay at The Dunhill Hotel in Charlotte, NC was available at a discounted price. My meal was primarily hosted by the hotel and The Asbury, with some extras purchased on my own tab. None of this has influenced how much I loved the location, the food, or the people, and I remind you of that to ensure that you know that this disclosure is 100% accurate. *

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Morgan Street Food Hall - Raleigh, NC

I have been to Morgan Street Food Hall in Raleigh more than a handful of times.

It has quickly become one of my favorite places to eat.

Whether you're in the mood for empanadas, tacos, pizza, hummus, salad or lobster (yes, you're reading this correctly, I did say lobster), the food hall has you covered!

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After attending a press event there and then going back repeatedly with my friend Kate of Life of a Ginger, she and I recently went back to the Food Hall to attended a hosted brunch event with our fellow Triangle bloggers and influencers.

But we were far from the star of the show at this event, y'all.

The vendors and businesses there were incredible. We had so many options to choose from, I likely won't get to spotlight them all, but I would love to introduce you to a few.

I'm going to work backwards, friends. Because honestly? Life is short and we really should eat dessert first! Now, on that particular day we didn't, but man, dessert at Morgan Street is worth several looks. A new favorite place to pick up something sweet is at Raleigh Rolls. If you've never tried rolled ice cream before, you're in for a real treat.

Their menu is amazing, AND they offer dairy-free ice cream options. After speaking with the owner we learned that Raleigh Rolls takes allergies seriously, and that their staff is required to ask a number of questions before serving you your non-dairy dessert. They even carry dairy-free add-ins to ensure you get the complete Raleigh Rolls experience.

Have a look at what their s'mores rolled ice cream looks like. They even TOAST the marshmallow!

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Now, you're probably thinking - but, brunch? At a food hall? Yes, friends, yes. Brunch. And we all know that for many, brunch isn't brunch without mimosas.

Be sure to stop by the food hall on a Saturday or Sunday and purchase a bucket of mimosas from the bar. Make your own mimosas with whatever you decide to eat for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Look how cute the bucket is ... all ready for you to prep your drinks to your preference. And I'm sure you could ask for an extra glass or two if you want to share.

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There is so much more to tell you about the offerings at Morgan Street Food Hall, but I would be writing forever, so I'm going to break it down into a series of posts for y'all.

That said, I'll leave you with a glimpse of some of the seafood options. Personally, I don't eat seafood, so I can't speak to the taste of these savory choices. However, I've heard extremely happy ravings about everything shown here - so you can decide for yourself.

In the collage you see below, starting from the upper left-hand corner and working clockwise, you'll find:

Lobster Bisque from Cousins Maine Lobster

Lobster Roll from Cousins Maine Lobster 

* I have it on good authority from some Maine natives that this alone is worth the trip. I also know for a fact that people follow their food truck EVERYWHERE to ensure that they catch up with them for the daily catch - so to speak. *

Fried Lobster Tail, French fries and Brown Sugar Hush Puppies (THESE I can speak for ... YUM!) from Oak City Fish and Chips

Shrimp and Grits from Iyla's Southern Kitchen

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Stay tuned for more details on the incredible vendors at Morgan Street Food Hall.

I look forward to introducing you to Makus Empanadas, Sassool, Curry in a Hurry, and Carroll's Kitchen, to name a few of my favorites.

Thanks again to Morgan Food Hall for being so welcoming. Being invited to numerous events there leaves us always coming back for more - in fact, since I started writing this post, I've been back again. Stay tuned!

* Although I have been to Morgan Street Food Hall for two events since it's opening, I have been back repeatedly on my own, because the food and variety are just that good. So, this event I'm referring to was hosted/partnered, but I sing the praises of the food because I am actually THAT big of a fan. *

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Depleting.

divorce, coparenting, emotional, therapy, loss, exhaustion, finding my way, you can do it

Divorce is depleting.

Someone in a group I am in said that this morning, not in those exact words, but more along the lines of when someone reacted to something divorce related - how depleting that was.

Is.

Feels.

Depleting.

Damn.

That is the G-d's honest truth.

Divorce is exhausting.

Draining.

Emotionally taxing.

Depleting.

No matter how amicable it may be.

No matter how easily you coparent.

No matter.

No matter.

No matter.

It.

Is.

Depleting.

Depleting = to deplete.

Deplete.


divorce, coparenting, emotional, therapy, loss, exhaustion, finding my way, you can do it, depletion

Look at these synonyms.

Exhaust. Use up.

Consume. Expend.

Spend. Drain.

Empty. Sap.

Milk. Suck dry.

Evacuate.

Deplete.

Damn.

If you are an individual who has lived through a divorce of your own, you know.

You know that it's a whole other way of life.

You know that it's draining.

You know that even if it was your own choice - your own request - your own initiative.

You know that it hurts like hell.

You know.

There are many couples who remain in contact.

Many couples who are amicable.

Friends, even.

Friends.

Imagine that?

I can. And yet. I can't.

And yet.

It's so so very different than the world that you expected to live in your entire life upon saying those two simple words.

I do.

I do.

But then.

I don't.

You don't.

We don't.

The love has been depleted.

And in this mode. In this mindset.

So. Much. More. Depletes.

So much slips.

Right.

Through.

Our.

Fingers.

Depleted.

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Divorce is depleting.

Exhausting.

But we each find our way.

We each make it through.

You will, too.

Depleted.

And then.

Strong.

Filled up.

Energized.

Ready to take on the world.

Again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Parenting: You're Their Safe Place

Good day, friends. I've got some valuable information here for you. I hope you'll take a few moments to read, and possibly share, if you think it will benefit others, as well.

This piece is the first part of a new series (possible multiple posts hopefully = a series) that I'm writing about parenting. What you are about to read is related to the really young ones. Children of grade school age, and younger. I'm not being age-specific because our children develop differently, only you can determine if I'm referring to your child when you read my words. But I remind you that there are many other aspects of parenting where parents - maybe one - maybe both - maybe other adults in our children's lives - represent the safe place for them. Stay with me and I'll be sharing more on those scenarios, too. Soon.

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---------

If you are a parent, this information is for you.

You may think you don't need it anymore, but trust me, someday you will again.

You'll think to yourself, oh, remember when Andrea said I'd need that reminder. What was she saying again? Oh, right. I'm their safe place. Right.

*nods enthusiastically*

When our children are young - like really tiny, but old enough to have their own little minds and voices - we often hear things like:

They're such angels. 

They were on their best behavior. 

They were a pleasure - I hope you'll bring them back again soon. 

And then you, mom, or you, dad, get home and find that those little angels?

HAVE COMPLETELY VANISHED.

You'll ask yourself a number of questions:

Where did my sweet baby go? 

What the heck is happening here?

But, but - the teacher/daycare provider/camp counselor/grown-up who just handed them back to me with a smile - JUST SAID HOW INCREDIBLY BEHAVED THEY WERE.

WHERE DID MY SWEET CHILD GO, Y'ALL?

I'm here to tell you.

Your sweet child is still in there.

Still in that tiny body that is wailing loudly because you didn't let them play with their toys before they washed their hands.

Still in that loud screech you hear because they WANT THAT - whatever that may be.

Still in that flailing pint-sized person who is about ready to hurt themselves and ends up hurting you, instead.

I know. I know. You're thinking, Andrea, tell me something I don't already know.

Well. Maybe I will. And maybe you already DO know this, but needed to hear it from someone outside of your family home.

They do this because you're their safe place.

They're so overwhelmed. Exhausted. Cranky. Maybe happy, even. And they don't know what to do with all of these emotions. They are on overload. Sensory or otherwise. And they just can't decide to do anything but whatever they're doing.

Honestly. They really and truly cannot do anything else in that moment.

You know they don't mean it, right? The things they say. The punches they land.

Oh, the punches.

I've seen many a child, my own included, flailing so hard, lashing out at their mother or father and ultimately making contact - in a way that throws the grown-up so that tears spring to their eyes.

This isn't fun, y'all.

Not. One. Bit.

But the reason our children do this in our presence, in our homes, in our arms, even - is because we're their safe place.

We, their parents, offer them UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

And no matter how old they are, they know that.

They know that whatever they do, we will love them, we will be there for them, and we will take care of them, always.

And no, these little ones don't actually stop, think, truly process all of this.

They just KNOW.

So as much as you're struggling, feeling the pain (and I hear you, sister/brother/friend, I have SO been where you are), and wondering if your child will ever turn into a functional older child, teenager, or young adult?

You have done something RIGHT.

You have shown your child that you are their safe place.

They can be themselves with you.

They can show you what is rolling around inside of them.

You're the person who will always hold them close - even when they are so busy trying to figure out the rest of the world.

Remember. They're so so very little.

They see everything else as being so so very big.

But you. As big as you are?

You're their safe place.


* Andrea Bates, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of North Carolina. The information in this article is not to be used in place of working with a mental health provider. The information shared here is also not to be used as a way for you to assess your child, but as a reminder that our children are each quite complex, and often exhibit behaviors that upset and frustrate us, beyond their own understanding. Should you determine you need such support for yourself, as a parent, or for your child, to help meet their needs and want to find a mental health professional to assist you, consider checking Psychology Today to locate a provider in your area.

Monday, February 4, 2019

There's No Such Thing ... Let's Talk Mental Health



Listen, friends, I never ever pretend to be the therapist to all the people.

I don't.

I tell people I work in mental health.

I tell people I'm a therapist.

But I don't heal anyone.

I don't want to *fix* anyone I'm dating.

I don't want someone who meets me to think I'm instantly going to be analyzing them in a professional manner.

But listen.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't analyze people.

So would you.

It's how we connect with each other.

How we learn about one another.

And how we determine who we want and don't want in our lives.