Strawberry Picking Fun


Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I had a great one. After all the fun on Saturday, I had more ahead for Sunday.


Any guesses what this is a photo of?


But before I tell you…I must share breakfast. I know this is a typical TCL breakfast, but note the tray. Hubby made breakfast in bed for me! Aww…

Now…on to the photo…it was a picture of a strawberry farm!


I went strawberry picking with the Charlotte Food Bloggers, guys! Here’s Julie with her beautifully decorated strawberry basket.


We hit up the Miller’s Farm just at the border of North and South Carolina at 3685 S.C. 51, Fort Mill, S.C. 29715.


The farm is just across from this popular flea market. I’ve passed this farm hundreds of times and never noticed it before…not sure why.


The farm is beautiful. It’s not a large farm (at least not the part you can pick from), but it’s well-sized.


Bloggers taking pictures of bloggers…who are…yes…taking pictures of aforementioned bloggers. Always a classic shot.


We dug right into the strawberry plants, filling up our baskets.


Hey Katie!


I was loving all the sunlight and fresh air.


Have you ever been strawberry picking? I used to go all the time with my family growing up.

Here’s how it works…you can go for the berries that are out and about…


…but sometimes the trick is to dig into the middle of the plants and find the berries hiding out of plain sight.

Look for the berries that are ripened, but not overly ripe. Check the berries for free from bruises, marks, nibbles, etc. Basically, just look for berries you’d like to eat.


It turns out the best weekend for picking was last weekend, so we were getting the tail end of the strawberries. I filled up half a large box before calling it a day. And yes, I brought coconut water for some hydration on this hot day.



I headed back with the rest of our group towards the main building.


They had a few animals out and about.




Clearly, I’m more of a city girl than a country girl as I don’t know how to appropriately ride this tractor. This is one of the biggest tires I’ve seen in person. I actually inside it!


Today’s photography tip of the day thanks to Taylor – get thee a diffuser. He didn’t say it like that, but that’s my take away. Anywho, direct sunlight is actually not best for photography. Overcast lighting is actually much better. But, since you can’t control clouds, you can diffuse sunlight yourself using a handy-dandy diffuser. They’re sold in different sizes at most photography stores or at online photography shops.


My stash.


And more on this gorgeous creation next time! ;)

Do you ever do pick-your-own fruits or veggies? What do you usually like to get?

Natural Filipino Cold Remedy


If you’re just catching up, I spent the weekend in Atlanta! You can check out the first post here, an amazing Atlanta dining experience here, and the whole reason for the trip here.


In the morning, we had lots of yummy food waiting for us – quiche, potatoes…


…and homemade oat bread (I got the recipe!).


Still feeling under the weather, I had some green tea after my morning cuppa joe.


My aunt and uncle gave my sister and I a sample of this Filipino fave – a mung bean cake.


Since I’m a fan of Chinese food, including bean-based desserts, I actually didn’t think this was weird. In fact, it was quite tasty!


Knowing I was still sick, my aunt offered to make me a natural cold remedy – Filipino style.

Important Note: I’m not a doctor or registered anything, so please don’t take this post as medical advice. I’m just showing you what my family gave me for informational/educational purposes. You should always seek medical advice from a professional when looking for medicinal treatments. :)


My aunt plucked a stem from a variegated oregano plant she had growing in her home.


She put the leaves in a piece of aluminum foil.


She folded it up to create a little packet and then toasted the packet in a toaster oven for a bit.


Once done, she took the leaves and put them in a garlic press.


She squeezed out the liquid…


…and voila! A holistic cold remedy – about 2 teaspoons worth of oregano juice. Immediately after taking the juice, my nasal passage cleared right up, but it slowly started getting clogged again. :(

My aunt gave me more leaves to take a second dose later in the day. Apparently, I’m supposed to do it twice a day?

Bonus – I got a baby oregano plant to take home! This is great, because I’ve never seen this type of oregano before!


We got to sit around enjoying a lazy morning, talking recipes, and catching up. It was lovely!


Hey vegan-friends…lookie what I found. Bet you never thought agar was used for this. This is a snippet from a science book my cousins read when they were kids.


See that? Scientists use agar “to feed bacteria and fungi”! Whoa!


Lookie – you even get some packets of the stuff! You could use this to grow bacteria…or make a vegan dessert? lol

Do you know any natural or holistic cold remedies? What are they?

Distant Worlds


After our amazing dinner in Atlanta, we headed just two miles down the road for the entire reason for our trip – a concert at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.


Not just any concert…a concert my sister invited me to back in January because she wanted to see it so badly.


No, it wasn’t Usher. My sis is a gamer and was super excited when she found out that Distant Worlds – the orchestra version of songs from the Final Fantasy game series was coming to the South. This was conducted by Arnie Roth and composed by Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu.


Sis and I before the show.


The concert was better than I expected. Actually, I didn’t even know what to expect, but either way, I enjoyed the experience. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra played various songs throughout the show while video clips, drawings, and other images were displayed on the screen above. I’m a big classical music fan, and this was right up my alley music-wise. The songs reminded me a bit of Phantom of the Opera, but sometimes without singers. Although, there were two songs with opera singers – the one with the trio being possibly my favorite of the evening. They also had the Georgia Tech choir on stage to perform some of the songs!

Some of the concert was definitely lost on me since I wasn’t familiar with the song names or characters. I could only look around to appreciate the enthusiasm as the Grammy-award-winning conductor gleefully listed off song names. Perhaps the biggest game-word of the night – Chocobo. Oh yes. The conductor said they were going to play the “Chocobo” song and the crowd went wild! I leaned over to my sister and whispered, “What’s a chocobo.” Click here if you’d like to learn, yourself.

The crowd went the most crazy every time the composer himself, Nobuo Uematsu, stepped out onto the stage.

Also…curious about the show? Click here for a sample video!


Sis expected lots of people in costume, but we only saw a handful. These two had the best costumes of the evening.

Overall, I had a great time and really enjoyed the music.

And one fun fact for you non-gamers…Final Fantasy was named because the software company who developed it was going out of business. Thus…it was their “final fantasy.” But, as it turns out, the game was a big hit and they’re now on their fourteenth version! I love a good success story. :)


After the concert, sis and I headed to our cousin’s house. I was worried about waking my aunt and uncle up since we weren’t getting there until just after 11pm, but would you know it…


…we got there and my aunt was buzzing around the kitchen like a happy little bee. She even had late night snacks ready for us – Filipino-style:


A corn and pork stew


ham with a sweet sauce and rice

(Can you tell Filipinos like pork?)


And the best part – dessert! This may not look like much, but this sweet rice is a beloved family favorite. It’s made simply with sticky rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar. Yup…it’s vegan! I’ll have to post a recipe some time. It’s easy, cheap, and delicious.




I really wanted to take Monday off to spend more time with my family, but I have too many projects at work right now. :(


We’ll have to come back soon! We grew up visiting this side of our family. Our aunt is actually distant cousins with my mom, but we lived relatively close and have always gotten along swimmingly. My cousins are like my brothers, so they’re a closer section of our family. :)

After late night snacks, we enjoyed some music by my cousin Leo who is quite the guitar rock star.

Are you a gamer? What’s your favorite video game to play?

Royal Wedding Slumber Party


Any other crazy people out there who woke up early to watch the Royal Wedding!?


My friend Erica invited me over for a Royal Wedding slumber party, and I was super excited to go. Especially since hubby wasn’t particularly interested in waking up early to watch the festivities. lol


But let’s rewind to Thursday night since that’s when the party kicked off.





Erica’s home was decorated super cute for the special occasion.


I brought over macarons and the Veggie Girl cookies I got in the mail earlier that day (the ones Bailey tried to steal! that dog!). (I know, I know…the macarons are FRENCH! But we don’t have an English bakery and we all really like these macarons)


So, we sipped wine and noshed on cookies and macaroons whilst catching some of the last minute news about the wedding.


Like any good slumber party, we stayed up a little too late chit-chatting. 4:00am came way too fast, and I think I only ended up with roughly 2 hours of sleep. Yikes!


Luckily, we had plenty of coffee.



After waking up enough to be able to think straight, we changed into dresses, big hats, and tiaras to watch the wedding.


I also brought over yummy blueberry muffins for breakfast!


I had so much fun watching the royal wedding with my friends. It was so fun to see everything with people who were as excited about the event as me! :)

As expected, the wedding was absolutely beautiful. I saw a lot of tweets about how this wedding was the kind of happy-occasion, fairy tale that the world needs now, and I agree. Yay for happy times!

And yay for vacation days. I was so happy I took the day off from work, so I didn’t have to go into the office. Phew!

Next up…a fabulous brunch. The festivities didn’t stop here! Check back later for more of my Royal day off!

Did you do anything fun to celebrate the Royal Wedding?

Beer + Cupcake Bloggie Birthday


I had a very fun, and very special event to do Tuesday night.


This photo pretty much sums it up – beer…and cupcakes. A match made in heaven, my friends. ;)


Kristien organized a big blogger get-together at Kennedy’s to celebrate blogger birthdays for Caitlin, Michelle, and Lori.


We first headed upstairs for some eats and drinks.


I had the shepherd’s pie because the menu read “Guiness gravy”, and I thought that sounded pretty awesome. I got green beans for a side. I also selected an Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Copper for my drink of choice.


Jen was a doll and brought cupcakes from Cupcrazed for dessert! I had the vegan vanilla cupcake and it was wonderful.

After dinner we went downstairs to play trivia. I don’t know why I like playing trivia because I’m actually quite horrible at it. But, I generally find it to be a fun activity. I don’t know many answers, but every once in awhile my knowledge comes in handy. Like that time I played with co-workers and no one knew the answer to: “this person’s guest appearance on a children’s TV show was not aired because their outfit was deemed too racy.” DUH! Katy Perry! And who swept in and saved them? Moi. That’s right! Sure, I didn’t know any of the answers related to the sports questions…or history questions…or…ok most of the other questions. But, I had the answer when they needed it! ;)


Allison, me, and birthday girl Caitlin.


And me with the other two birthday girls – Michelle and Lori!

If you haven’t read Lori’s engagement story yet, check it out!

Reader question: Do you do trivia? Which category are you best and worst at?

Healthy Eating is a Journey, Not a Destination


You know the old saying “Life is a journey, not a destination?” I think the same holds true for healthy eating. Hubby has asked me in the past why I’ve changed so much how I eat over the years. Is it because I’m ADD? No, I just constantly learn about healthy eating – what works for me and what doesn’t.


What makes me feel like my diet is restricted and what makes my diet feel like it’s free. What keeps me satisfied and what doesn’t. I learn and I adapt and I repeat the process. I am far from the best example of a healthy eater, but when I think about how much my eating has changed over the years, it makes me really happy. :)


I’d consider myself a pretty average American, so I ate all the usual suspects as far as less-than-stellar food choices. But, here are some things I’ve just outgrown in recent years:

  • Fast food (McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, etc.)
  • Candy (the junk food kind – it tastes like plastic to me now – give me dark chocolate!)
  • Heavily processed foods (anything with an ingredient list that reads like a novel – it tastes fake)
  • Stuff you eat out of a vending machine (Oh I ate a honey bun in my day, but now it seems so gross)
  • Fake pancake syrup (I used to like the buttery flavor, but it tastes like plastic now to me – I prefer real maple syrup)

My taste buds have changed! I really think it’s true that the better you eat, the more you grow to like the lighter and healthier foods and the more you outgrow the unhealthy ones.


I still eat sweets, but I prefer to get them made from scratch at local bakeries – or to bake my own from scratch using healthier ingredients.

And I still eat some processed foods, but I try to limit them and choose the versions that are as close to natural as possible. I look for short ingredient lists that I can read and understand. Food Rules anyone?


As I mentioned earlier…one thing I constantly try to do is learn. Learn about new ingredients that are more healthful than others I’m more familiar with. I love browsing a health food store, finding something I’ve never heard of before and figuring out how to use it. I try to move not-as-good ingredients out of my life and these new finds in. For example, I find myself baking much more with sucanat than granulated sugar. And I now use unbleached flour instead of traditional AP flour…though I usually try to use whole grain versions (yay spelt!) whenever possible.

I hit up one of my local natural grocery stores yesterday and stocked up on some of my fave ingredients and a couple new ones.

From the bulk bins:

  • coarse salt
  • kamut berries
  • sucanat


Other buys:

  • Organic raw cacao powder
  • teff flour
  • amaranth flour
  • vital wheat gluten


I’m really excited about this amaranth flour. I’ve been wanting to try this stuff for about a year now, but it’s so darn expensive. I haven’t been able to force myself to buy it.


And this was something I’ve been looking for but haven’t seen around town yet – organic raw cacao powder. I’m really looking forward to finding some fun ways to utilize this. It reminds me of that fabulous lunch I had at Cafe Gratitude in November .

I know I’ve asked about foods that make you say, “I can’t believe I used to eat that!“, but without it having to be shocking, what are some not-so-healthy foods that you’ve just grown out of over the years?

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