Monday, March 27, 2017

Charleston Eats: Basil

Would y'all believe this time last year I had never tried Thai food?  I had this ridiculous notion that it was filled with spices I wouldn't like and would be too hot.  Well, I could not have been more wrong.  Thai food is amazing; it's some of the most flavorful and delicious Asian food I've ever had.  While I don't have a lot of other Thai favorites to compare it to, from reading reviews online, I know Basil is the real deal.  The food is so authentic, the location (on King Street - just look for the bicycle on top of the glowing green neon sign) is fantastic, and their happy hour is in my top 5 in Charleston.  
Y'all: check out these deals and prices.  What I love about Basil is that everything during happy hour is full size.  The pineapple mojito and mango martini are both delicious, and it's hard not to order one of everything off the appetizer menu.  

Make sure you get there early, because they don't take reservations and the restaurant is on the smaller side.  The traditional cocktail bar only sits about 6 people, but my favorite bar is along the cooking station where you can watch the chefs at work.  All of the staff at Basil are so welcoming and are happy to answer any question for a newbie like me.  I love the whole atmosphere inside, and there's even a row of tables outside, perfect for people watching along King Street. 
Now for my order: I recommend the Fried Wontons, Stuffed Shrimp, and either the Basil Rolls or Chicken Satay.  Okay, just go ahead and order all four... Mix and match with the dipping sauces, too.  Some are spicy, some are sweet, and they're all super flavorful.  If you're still hungry, the Beef Fried Rice and Pad Thai are delicious.  Don't forget dessert!
Basil has become so popular that they now have four locations: a second over the river in Mount Pleasant, another in Columbia, and a fourth just outside Charlotte.
Okay now... is it time for happy hour yet?!?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Porch Refresh

Happy Spring!  It seems like the East Coast has been a little confused as to seasons this month, but here's to hoping it warms back up very soon!  To me, spring means time outdoors.  What I love most about our home are all of the different patio spaces.  On the front of our house, we have a Charleston-style double porch.  The top porch was the first "room" we decorated when we moved in, and you can read about what pieces we used here.  In the first floor space, we hung the perfect porch swing, and you can read that full DIY from last week here.
What's funny is that the area where we spend the most outdoor time, our screen porch/breezeway off the living room, is the one that we have yet to really decorate.  The bugs in Charleston can be brutal, plus, we love that the cats can hang out with us with the screen.  At least we have more furniture than we did a few weeks after we moved in, but it's really still a mix-match of furniture we used at our house in Connecticut, IKEA plants I'm trying my hardest not to kill, and a broken rocking chair we found on the side of the road (that I keep swearing I'll fix!).

I finally have some true inspiration for what's also one of our main party spaces.  While I love that the other porches are relaxing, this breezeway will be the perfect accompaniment for grilling, lawn games, and parties after dark.
Let's start with the colors.  Out house is painted Summer Breeze by Valspar, so I thought some pastels, especially pinks and corals would be a great compliment.  How adorable is this wooden "hello" that I found on Etsy to hang on the wall?  I love that it's unfinished so I can choose any color to paint it.  Right now, I'm loving this Coral Peach, also from Valspar.

To add even more color, I definitely want flowers for this space.  Begonias and impatiens are perfect for this shady area since they thrive with very little sun, and I love this planter ladder from IKEA.

Like I mentioned, I already have a bistro set from a few years ago (here's a similar one from Target), so we'll be keeping that for sure and just be adding a few accents.  We chose this set because it doesn't have cushions and has definitely held up over time.  An outdoor rug to put under it, and new pillows to replace our faded ones will be perfect.  Here, here, and here are the three I chose - and they're all at a great price!

Last, but not least, a couple of things for entertaining: string lights for partying into the night and a functional (and movable) beverage cooler.

We can't wait to have our friends over this spring and summer in this new space!  What's your favorite way to entertain?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fashionable Weekending

Happy Spring!  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Ours started early on Thursday night at Charleston Fashion Week.  Each year, 5 days of shows take over Marion Square downtown.  There are not only collections featuring famous designers but also an emerging designer competition each night as well as a week-long "rock the runway" model competition.
The featured designer show on Thursday was William Rast, Justin Timberlake's denim brand.  Inside the Belk tent was an awesome vending machine where you could tweet with an event hashtag to dispense a Belk gift card or tee shirt.  With the gift cards I got, I will definitely be heading to Belk soon to buy something I saw on the runway.  I love this top, these jeans, and honestly the whole line.
During the intermission, we got to go backstage with our friend who does all the lighting and watch all the models getting ready for the second half shows.  Seeing the designs, makeup, and hair up close were really cool.  It also confirmed that I could never be a model - those ladies and gents are TALL.  How awesome is the message they see on the way out to the runway?
Before heading back to the shows on Friday, we obviously had to get a few green beers for St. Paddy's Day.  We also made sure to wear green (my ankle pants were green, I promise) to celebrate our favorite holiday.  My friend Gillian joined us on Friday night, too, and we had way too much fun in the photo booth.  I've never seen one with such awesome quality before, and if you're looking for something different for an event, definitely check out Massive Booth.  
Saturday was a full day spent on the kickball diamond.  We played in a memorial tournament and made it to the semi-finals.  A nap promptly followed our day in the sun, and when I was wide awake at 10pm, I decided to cook a full (early) Sunday supper of pulled pork sriracha mac and cheese and pepper jack creamed corn.  It was all amazing, and we will be eating all of it for the next week!  I'll also be sharing the recipes soon.
After some Sunday golf and another helping of our delicious Southern feast, we made it to the theater to see Beauty and the Beast.  It was seriously everything I hoped it would be!  The night ended with lots of March Madness, and even though my bracket is pretty busted, the upsets have been really fun to watch.
Linking up with Biana today for Weekending!

Friday, March 17, 2017

My Top 5 Coffee Shops in Charleston

It took me a couple of years, but my husband has finally converted me. I’m a coffee drinker lover. Well, as he calls it, a fake coffee drinker. He drinks his “the way you’re supposed to” aka black, but I like a little milk and flavor.   Yeah, I can make an okay coffee at home (my favorite right now is Panamanian coffee), but what’s better than going out for a Saturday morning coffee and pastry? We have had a lot of fun trying different coffee shops around town, and I’ve finally narrowed it down to my five favorites here in Charleston (in no particular order). These are all located downtown, on the peninsula, but each has a vibe all its own and something different to offer:
Black Tap Coffee - This is one of the smaller coffee shops in town with a large community table and a variety of bar stools, but what it lacks in seating, it definitely makes up for in flavor.  Their WiFi is super fast, there is plenty of light, and the location is right near the College of Charleston campus, so there are always people inside working.  This was the first coffee shop I really started frequenting; their staff was very knowledgeable and helpful when I had no idea what to order.

My order: hot lavender latte and a mini quiche
Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer - Coffee plus beer - I'm sold. They have the best outdoor courtyard, and I love that this location is across the street from the Farmer's Market at Marion Square.  I can honestly say that we stop at Kudu every other weekend before we take our walk through the market.  The one thing different from the location above is that they proudly announce they do not have WiFi.  Head to Kudu, morning or night, and enjoy some conversation with friends!

My order: iced vanilla latte and a ham & cheese croissant (brought over each day from Saffron)
Tricera Coffee - Who doesn't love a dinosaur-themed coffee shop?  If you're shopping on Lower King Street, this is in a perfect location on George Street.  This is definitely the coziest and low-key spot for coffee in Charleston.  If you're looking to buy their beans, they sell them under a different name: Cup.

My order: hot saffron latte and a bagel with cream cheese
The Daily - This one is a little further out of the way than your normal walk around Charleston, but they do have their own parking, and they're right next door to High Wire Distillery!  The Daily is Butcher & Bee's grab-and-go location, so you know everything they bake will be fantastic.  While you're waiting for your coffee, you can shop their little marketplace for wine, beer, fresh juices, meats, cheeses, and local goods.

My order: iced homemade almond milk latte and house sausage biscuit
Revelator - The newest coffee shop in Charleston, this is actually Revelator's 7th location around the Southeast.  The whole place feels bright and open, and while it's on the very Northern end of Upper King Street right now, give it a few years, and with all the new construction, it will soon be right in the prime location.

My order: espresso & milk with honey cinnamon syrup and an asiago bagel with cream cheese
Honorable Mention: Vintage Coffee & Cafe - This one is definitely in my top favorites, but it gets honorable mention because it isn’t actually in Charleston.  It’s just over the Cooper River in Mount Pleasant, so a very reasonable drive if you want the cutest outdoor spot to drink coffee in the area.

My order: hot vanilla latte and the peanut butter-banana-chocolate acai bowl (if you’re really feeling adventurous – add toasted coconut to the bowl)
There you have it! Next time you’re in Charleston, I highly suggest that you give one of these places a try – or all 6 if you’re here for a week. And just a note, as you can see, I only shared my order for each place. While I’m ordering fancy drinks and love all of these places for different reasons, Mike is always getting the same thing: a cup of pour-over or from the freshest pot they have  – haha!

Do you have a favorite coffee spot in your city?

 
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