Category Archives: Drinks

A Lovely Surprise


This past weekend it snowed!  Only for around 30 minutes, but still, it was pretty.

Then I packed up and drove 3 hours to have Christmas with my brothers and Dad.

There were lots of crazy kids (my nieces and nephews) running around.  This picture makes me laugh.

We had lots of good food and my brother Kenny made us a surprise!

Doesn’t he look like Emilio Estevez?

I digress.

The surprise was our Gramma Emma’s Boiled Custard.

Our Gramma passed a few years ago, but she used to make this treat every Christmas.  It has probably been at least seven years since I’ve had it.  So it was definitely an awesome surprise.

I’ve never really heard of Boiled Custard outside of our family.  It is basically eggs, milk, and sugar heated over a double broiler and then chilled.  My Gramma would chill it in a ceramic dish, (we think) to create little ice shivers.  The taste kind of reminds me of snow cream.  My brother Stevie tasted it and said “WHOOOO, that’ll pull you right out of a diabetic coma!”

Don’t ask for the recipe because I don’t have it, and even if I did, I’m sure my family would kill me if I posted it!  You can google it and find all kinds of recipes for it though.

Here is a video of my Gramma from 2006.  It may not mean much to you, but I’m so grateful to have this little clip and to be able to hear her voice.

Have you ever tried Boiled Custard?  Does your family have a certain dish that is served every Christmas?


Easy Breakfast


An easy breakfast brought to you by Trader Joe’s (mostly) except for the Maple Syrup.  I think that came from Harris Teeter (aka the Teeta YO!)

I started with Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats.  Yes, quick cooking because I am HONGRY when I wake up.  These only take 8 minutes.  It normally takes 30 minutes to cook steel-cut oats (aka Irish Oats.)  Who has time for that?

Most people are more familiar with old-fashioned rolled oats.  The kind with the jolly quaker man on the can.

Goooood Morning!

Rolled oats have been cooked a bit and then rolled or flattened out.  Steel-cut oats have been, you guessed it, cut up into tiny pieces with steel blades.  Steel-cut oats are less processed than rolled oats, but both are still 100% whole grain and good for you.  You can learn more about the different types of oats at the EatMoreOats website.

While the oats were cooking, I chopped up my toppings.

Had a little TJ OJ on the side.

Here I have toppings for two:  a banana, sweet & salty pecans, and dried bing cherries.  I learned from the Daily Garnish to chop things up tiny to save calories, but still have the flavor dispersed through the dish.  I obviously didn’t chop these up tiny tiny, but they are smaller than what I started with.  I try.

I put the toppings over the oats once they were done, along with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Let’s eat!

I had TJ’s Gingerbread Coffee in my love mug.  Their Gingerbread Coffee is infused with ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves.  Mmmmm coffeeeeee.

A nice warm breakfast on a cold, brisk morning.

Okay, so maybe it was closer to lunch time.

What did YOU have for breakfast?  Was it quick and easy?

Red Velvet Craze


First, there was Red Velvet Cupcakes.

Suarez Bakery

Then there was Red Velvet Donuts from Nona’s Sweets Bakery.

I'm so full of red velvet that my eyes are even turning red!

And now, I present to you…..(are you ready!)……drum roll please………….

Oh yes, The Red Velvet Waffle from Terrace Cafe.  Oh my YUMS, dessert for breakfast?  Yes please!

Topped with a cream cheese drizzle, this obviously didn’t need maple syrup.  It was soft and fluffy on the inside with a crispness on the outside.  It was AH-Mazing!  I ate three triangles and a couple of pieces of fruit.  I was so full.  An awesome Gingerbread Latte also found its way into my belly.

This place has Smores Waffles too.  Can you imagine?!


Natty Greene’s and Campfire Mocha


A couple of week’s ago Vee and I went to Greensboro to visit with the fam.  The trip was A-OK.

Chuck and Ellen are bringing back the OK sign y’all!

We ate at Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co. downtown.  Ellen got the Chicken Scoop Salad and V got the City Club.

I had the Sir Charles

No, not that kind of Charles.  This kind….

Sir Charles - Ahi tuna loin steak grilled to order and topped with sliced cucumbers, wasabi sour cream and soy glaze served on a kaiser roll.

It was good, but it had my stomach in knots later that night. 😦

After dinner, Jonathan (the one to my left, your right in the OK pic) ordered a Campfire Mocha with dark chocolate from Caribou.  It sounded sooooo delicious, but I couldn’t stuff anything else in my belly.  I did, however, try it a couple of days ago and let me tell you, it was deeelicious!

Vee and I were driving around running some errands and I got a hankering for something hot and coffee-like and I felt like something other than Starbucks.  This is when I remembered the Campfire Mocha.

As we were waiting in line, a little 8 or 9-year-old girl came up to me holding out a pink rubber bracelet and asked if I wanted half off.  I said “half off of what?!” and she said “you get half off of your drink if you wear pink!” and I said “Oh okay, thank you!”  Isn’t that just so sweet?  I did get half off and returned her bracelet after we ordered.  It made my day.

Campfire Mocha - Melted Guittard® chocolate of your choice (dark, milk or white) into steamed milk, combined with espresso and marshmallow flavor and then top with whipped cream, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips.

I crashed before I even finished this drink, dozing in the car.  I stumbled into my bed when we got home for a proper nap.  Drinkers beware, this drink has as much calories as a meal, even if you order it with non-fat milk.  Totally worth it though.  Loved the marshmallows.


On with the Toe Shoes


V and I went hiking at Crowders Mountain and I got to test out my Vibrams!

I have the KSO which means keeps stuff out!  It did indeed keep stuff out.  They are super comfy and it really feels like you are barefoot with a bit of protection on the bottom, of course.  I could also feel more of my muscles working to stabilize my balance.  It was very liberating to wear these, but it may have been a mistake…..

We took the Pinnacle Trail which was labeled strenuous.  It started off as a piece of cake.  V and I were like “really, this is child’s play!”

We stopped to goof off at some rocks.

I felt really comfortable climbing rocks in my Vibrams.  We also had to climb over rocks to get to the summit, but that’s later.

We trekked on following the orange circles….

Don't forget water!

The Vibrams allowed me to experience all the different textures this trail had to offer.  You can feel the rocks, but they have a soft touch.  The dirt you see above felt good to my feet and we came across parts that had a lot of little pebbles, which felt kind of like a mini-massage.  We also walked across rocky paths like this one.

After a while, things got steep quick.

We were panting and eating our previous words….if only it was actually cake that we were eating.

Eventually we made it to the top with some amazing views.  The highest point in Gaston County at 1,705 feet.

V called out to the birds.

Everything from here was literally downhill.  My feet were killing me at this point from walking over rocky surfaces and the bottom of my feet felt like they had been bruised, which is an odd thing to say, but that is the only way I can describe it.

Did I listen to the pamphlet that came with shoes that states that you should get used to your shoes first before going long distances all at one time?

NO, I didn’t.

We only hiked 3.4 miles.  My feet were screaming BLOODY MURDER by the time we made it back to the car.  My feet weren’t actually bleeding, just really sore.

Back in the car with some much-needed elevation for my feet and a snack for my belly.

These are some of my favorite snacks:  Coconut Water with a splash of Passion Fruit, PB Chocolate Chip Larabar, and the new Cliff Fruit and Nut bar (apple-cinn).  I chose the Coconut Water because I wasn’t that hungry at the moment.

I love the Coconut Water because it is a natural source of electrolytes and potassium.  Unlike coconut milk that is high in fat, coconut water has no fat because it comes from the young green coconut before coconut meat forms (source).

I love the Larabars because of the short ingredient list made with real food and they taste amazing.  I am dying to try the Cookie Dough Larabar.  I haven’t been able to find it in any stores around here.

I love the Cliff Fruit and Nut bars because they taste good too, obviously, but 70%t of their ingredients are organic and the ingredient list is relatively short and recognizable.  I’m not a big fan of their other bars though because they just don’t taste that great to me.

So there you go! Go get some nutritious and filling snacks and remember – take it easy in those Vibrams.

Anyone have any experiences with hiking in their Vibrams?

The Wine Vault


The Wine Vault is one of the few great places in the University area of Charlotte.  They  have outdoor seating and usually live music.  They used to give us real wine glasses, but maybe it’s better for them that we have plastic now.  Interesting note:  I saw more people drinking beer than wine.

I choose wine by their pretty labels.

I got to test out my nifty camera bag.  Jenna from Eat Live Run posted about these bags first and I had to get one.  I am thoroughly satisfied.

Played with my cam.

Such pretty feet.

A bush trying to get fresh on me.

Charlie was mad that I didn’t spend time with him instead. 😦

What is your favorite brand of wine and do you have any tips for picking one out?



This past week I finished  my website, Ashley Rowell Photography, in order to complete a Web Design Certificate. So this means it’s time open up the ChocoVine and celebrate!!! Choco-what-you-say!?!

ChocoVine is a chocolate and wine lover’s delight. It’s a combination of Dutch chocolate and fine Cabernet wine. I first came across this concoction while shopping at World Market. I was drawn to it of course, because it was chocolate, but wine too? I have to admit I was a little apprehensive, but my curiosity wouldn’t let me leave without buying it. I asked the guy behind the counter (who looked like he was 16) if anyone had said if it was good or not. He said it tasted like yoo-hoo. I mean I like yoo-hoo, but does it really taste like yoo-hoo? I held on to it for about a month, maybe longer…..partly because I was afraid of the disappointment it might bring me if it didn’t taste good. I finally worked up the nerve to try it one day. But WAIT, I couldn’t do it alone. So I invited a friend over to share my possible disappointment. I was excited, scared, nervous, mostly excited, and I took a sip. And WOW, smack in the mouth; why the hell did I wait so long before trying this!?! It’s wonderful. It actually tasted more like a chocolate martini. The ChocoVine website also has a list of cocktails that you can make with it. So lesson learned – OF course chocolate and red wine go together duh.


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