Monday, December 24, 2012

Thank you and Happy Holidays From Raleigh What's Up

Thank you for Fulllsteam's Fruitcake at Bottlemixx in North Raleigh.

Thank you for amazing coffee breaks at Sola Coffee forcing us to stop and enjoy the company of great friends.

Thanks for last minute gifts and a great afternoon of artwork at NC Museum of Art.

Thanks for pre-drinks at Busy Bee Raleigh before holiday dinners!

Thanks for an amazing assortment of cheesy appetizers for family gatherings at Village Market.

Thanks for the best family holiday dinner at Gravy in downtown Raleigh.

Thanks for the coffee education and a new appreciation of local coffee at Larry's Beans.

Thanks for new creative beer/coffee concoctions with Slingshot Coffee!

Thanks for local and monthly member bevvies from Bottle Revolution for gifts and our own imbibing.

Thanks for a great keg of Lonerider ESB  beer for our holiday party!

Thanks to Jubala Coffee for delicious holiday morning breakfasts!
Thanks to Deco Raleigh for last minute gift options served with beverages and great customer service!

Thank you to Tasty Beverage for unique beverages and keeping our beer options from ever being boring!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shop. Local. Raleigh.

So there's absolutely no avoiding it.  Christmas sneaks up more and more quickly every year.

Jewelry and unique gift items at Deco Raleigh.
With that being said, I have just started to approach my Christmas shopping list,  and I'm definitely leaning more local this year.  Why do I want to spend time sitting in crazy lines fighting for a parking spot three miles from the stores? Why stand in line 50 people deep with one register open trying to get the best "bargain"deals with crazy loud holiday music blasting at full volume?? ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays, just need to approach it differently this year. We spent a recent Saturday (Nov 24)  in downtown Raleigh supporting the Small Business Saturday effort  and what a great way to spend a day getting gifts, experiencing great customer service, even enjoying a delicious meal and beverage while doing it! Now that's the holiday spirit!! Instead of taking part in crazy Black Friday, we waited and went downtown on Saturday and started at Raleigh Denim. Great quality products and unique upscale shopping for men and women. Next we went to Tasty Beverage and picked up their joint effort beverage with FullSteam brewery (Fullsteam Chombers One), celebrating their first year of business. These bottles are limited but are the best idea for hostess gifts, your craft beer friends, family, etc.  While your at it, Slingshot Coffee sells their coffee concentrate and ready-to-drink cold coffee which also make great gifts. If you're into chocolate, try stopping at Videri Chocolates next to Tasty. Delicious specialty chocolates made right here in Raleigh's own chocolate factory!

Raleigh Denim
We stopped by Moon and Lola with lots of fun and special personalized gifts for women. Lumina men's clothing has some great gift ideas for the business man in your life!

All that shopping made us hungry and thirsty so Raleigh Times was conveniently located in the middle of all these great shops and provided us a nice shopping break with fab snacks and cold beverages.

We refueled and continued our shopping with a stop at Deco Raleigh and Kindred Boutique. Both conveniently located near Fayetteville Street and perfect spots to hit for unique small gifts for adults and children, and unique to Raleigh.

Stitch is another shop in the same area popular for specially made (only in Raleigh) handbags, wallets, and  other items.

To finish off our afternoon, we stopped in for a quick peek at Father & Son Antiques. It was late and they were closing up but what a fun, retro place to shop! We will be back to see more soon.


The News & Observer just published a great gift idea list for shopping local.

Another great resource for checking out local specialty shopping and great ideas is to follow The Scout Guide. This Triangle blog has some great suggestions and great info.

ShopLocalRaleigh has a new gift guide that features lots of cool gift ideas from area businesses.

SO...get shopping!

Stay local

Enjoy some long forgotten great customer service from some folks that truly appreciate your business and relax knowing that you DO NOT have to tackle the mall to find all those nifty holiday gifts this year!!

Moon & Lola Raleigh through the back door at Raleigh Times!

Beautiful holiday windows at Stitch

Very specialized gifts at Father & Son Antiques!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Speaking of Coffee....

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first coffee"cupping".  Similar to a beer or wine tasting, we gathered at Larry's Beans in Raleigh to sample some tasty Ethiopian coffees. Thank goodness for GPS or I probably never would have found the place, tucked away down a gravel road, but once I spotted the Larry's Beans bus, I knew I was in the right place!

As we arrived, Larry himself greeted us at the entrance and we walked into a small courtyard to the sound of a guitar and accordian being played, setting the mood and making it feel almost like we were transported to a cafe in Paris! The sun was out and the temperature was an unbelievable 70 degrees and we proceeded to drink some coffee and sample some tasty treats.

Shortly after arriving,  all of us were seated and Larry gave a short intro about the business and inspired us with his life long passion and pursuit for sustainability and great tasting coffee. We learned a lot about Ethiopian coffee and the beans we would be sampling were from the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia.  Chief roaster Brad Brandhorst, educated us on the different processing techniques and how that affects the flavors of the coffee beans.

After some history and a little instruction on how the cupping would work, we moved to the tables where we learned to look, smell, taste and rate the coffee based on several different characteristics such as aroma, acidity, body, flavor, sweetness, balance and aftertaste.

Slurping is the proper way to take in the full taste and feel of the coffee, a talent none of us were quite ready to take on! But, that is how the professionals do it so we gave it our best shot!

I drink a cup of coffee just about every day, only having started a few years ago. I have to admit, I have a much better appreciation for the process and the complexity of flavors that can be found in a quality bean after the cupping experience. 

Cupping instructions and taking notes
I hope to attend more coffee cuppings in the future! My thanks goes out to John Huisman @trianglexplorer for the invite! It was a nice afternoon learning about coffee, meeting some great people, listening to good music and sampling some delicious local coffee and beer!

Coffee really seems to be having its moment these days, along with craft beer.  We are very lucky to have great connoisseurs of coffee (and beer) in Raleigh that go to such great lengths for sustainability, quality and complex flavor.

We finished the tasting with a cold glass of FullSteam's Carver Sweet Potato beer and yes, another cup of coffee!!

I am also a big fan of iced coffee and I look forward to trying Larry's concentrated cold brew coffee. Available online now at

Larry's "on air"

Live music

Getting ready to learn about coffee!

Tasting and making a mess! Smells amazing!

Brad teaches us about skimming the crust

Keep Dancing!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coffee and Beer pair up in Raleigh!

So last Friday night, we landed at New Raleigh's FIRST FRIDAY @ Oak City Cycling Project welcoming Slingshot Coffee Company's new HQ,  to sample two fairly new forces in Raleigh joining together to create an outstanding combination of beer and coffee. Each one standing unique and fabulous on their own, and yet together it was a uniquely exclusive Raleigh experience.

Slingshot Coffee Company, of Raleigh, is bottled cold brew coffee hand-crafted right here in Raleigh, NC. They were celebrating their new HQ space at Oak City Cycling. This company has really hit it off and is now distributing in several locations around the area.  The folks from Slingshot Coffee could not have been friendlier and were great to meet.  Slingshot Coffee has been a hit from the start, and I have followed it around town, finding it popular in several of the local bottle shops and often sold out. On Friday night, I was able to sample a Slingshot Coffee cocktail that was out of this world (need to get the recipe!).  Next, we got in line for to try the clever combination of Trophy Brewing's Slingshot Porter. Trophy Brewing is a nano brewery located on Morgan Street downtown and is scheduled to be opening in early 2013 with a full bar and growlers to go. They had two savory beers on tap to sample Friday, the Slingshot Porter and a delicious Saison.

The thing I enjoyed the most about Friday night, was attending another hip, laid-back event happening in downtown Raleigh that brings out a great mix of urbanites in the city that mostly know about such events via social media. The event was held in the bike shop at Oak City Cycling and when we got there, food trucks were parked across the street serving up delicious food options, only to go inside and sample delicious combinations of beer, and coffee mixed in with light conversation, local visual artist (Becky Joye, Raleigh-based designer), and even the guys from Megafaun did an acoustic session later in the evening. Families were there, kids were running around, couples young and old were hanging out and I loved the fact that I felt like I was at someone's backyard party...just the relaxed, cool vibe eminating from another impromptu awesome night out in Raleigh.

Sampling Trophy Brewing's beer offerings.

Slingshot Coffee Company's cold brew coffee.

Food trucks outside.

Oak City Cycling playing host.

Slingshot Coffee Co. new HQ.

Instagram contest.

Talking beer with Trophy Brewing.

Secret ingredients for Slingshot Coffee Cocktail.

Outside art at Oak City Cycling.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Fun!

This past weekend was full of old favorites, new discoveries and fun times in Raleigh. Friday night we kicked things off with dinner at Dos Taquitos (a local north Raleigh favorite!). 

Dinner at Dos Taquitos

On Saturday, the girls had a Girl Scout event at the Museum of History, so we decided to make an afternoon and evening out of it.  Our first stop was to check out the new upstairs outside patio at Raleigh Times. Totally love the new edition to the bar that includes a bar downstairs and a full bar upstairs with outside seating. It all overlooks the corner of Hargett and Wilmington and you can watch all the action from above.  Definitely a new favorite hangout spot!  I especially love that the new bar opens directly into Moon & Lola's store. Future plans could include a take out window from Raleigh Times...

View from the new outside patio at Raleigh Times Bar.

Window shopping at Moon & Lola

More window shopping at Stitch, below the new upstairs patio
at Raleigh Times.

Took the kids to dinner at Chucks for burgers and fries. Delicious dinner and the kids especially got a kick out of the  old fashion soda pops in a bottle.

Dinner at Chucks.

Checking out the Trolley Pub as it rolls past Raleigh Times.

After dinner, we headed to Red Hat Amphitheater for a FREE show featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead. Talk about an amazing night, the weather was perfect, the crowds were minimal and we were able to enter the venue FREE and with kids. Michael Franti put on an amazing show. His music is upbeat, fun and totally the right fit for the whole family. It was so great to take the "tweenagers" to a fabulous outdoor concert and have as much fun as they did! Beach balls were flying, people were singing and dancing and what a great opportunity to share a great night out with my kids. Thanks again, Raleigh.

 Shimmer wall behind Red Hat Amphitheater at the Convention Center.

Michael Franti & Spearhead on stage at Red Hat Amphitheater.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sample Raleigh's "Visual Feast" @ the NCMA!

This past Wednesday, I was lucky enough to enjoy an exclusive social+media preview of the new Still-Life Masterpieces exhibit at the NCMA, opening this weekend. This eclectic collection is a  "visual feast" for the eyes, meant to be enjoyed by people of all ages at a relaxing, leisurely pace and to enjoy the art of still-life paintings as it was interpreted from 16th century artists through modern day.

The exhibit features work from greats such as Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Georgia O'Keefe, and reflects their take on still-life art. There is plenty to look at and enjoy, including glass cases featuring an assortment of decorative objects used throughout the ages, each with a fascinating history of their own. The exhibit features interesting and clever artist pairings with a focus on the use of different mediums, color palettes, themes and techniques.

Still-Life Masterpieces is a collection from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the NCMA is the only US venue for this show, making this a very special opportunity for Raleigh and the local community. The collection features over 70 paintings  and decorative arts spanning 400 years.
Still-Life Masterpieces is an amazing opportunity to see some of the greatest artists of all time, featured in one collection. And it's here. In Raleigh!

SPECIAL EVENT: Octoberfeast at the NCMA on Sunday, October 21 is a family festival and will allow for free admission kids under 12 to this exhibit. Get more info by clicking here.

OCTOBER 21, 2012 - JANUARY 13, 2013

NCMA's real life "still life". A delicious assortment of breakfast treats.
Stanton MacDonald-Wright.  1923.
Paul Cezanne. 1890-94.

Levi Wells Prentice. 1892.

Sam Taylor-Wood.  2001.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 1869.

Akira Arita. 1980.