Lavender Honey Donuts: The Perfect Spring Dessert

Lavender is my latest baking ingredient obsession. I love the way it smells as well as how it can sweeten a dessert without being overpowering.

I came across this obsession when I tried lavender shortbread cookies at a Seattle bakery. It didn’t add a perfumey, floral taste like roses can. I couldn’t wait to get home from my trip and start experimenting with my own lavender baked goods.

In my trials and errors, I have found the easiest way to infuse lavender into recipes is with lavender simple syrup. Lavender infused sugar is also easy to make, but it takes a lot of the infused sugar for the lavender taste to come out. Instead of baking with it, I am using the lavender sugar to sweeten hot tea.

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Videri Chocolate: Satisfying the Sweet Tooth

Videri Chocolate in Raleigh, NC is a sweetery and coffee shop located on the outskirts of downtown. Honestly, it is the perfect place to go for a light dessert after an amazing meal at The Pit or Jose and Sons.

Photo from Videri’s Facebook page

Videri Chocolate has a rustic feel with exposed beams and brickwork. To the right is glass cases filled with truffles. To the back left is the coffee shop where shipping chocolate is being churned.

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Top Four Travel Websites

Tryon Palace in New Bern, NC

One of the biggest lessons we have learned in our six years of marriage is that “adventure is out there…if you say yes to it” Sure most of that motto from Pixar’s UP, but it is true.

When Trae and I started dating way back in the day, I had him doing some pretty random stuff: swimming at the Lake Hartwell dam, sliding down Sliding Rock near Boone, NC, and even swimming in Clemson University’s reflection pond. I had to drag him most of the time, especially when it came to hoping the fence to get to the dam’s swimming hole, but when we got to the end destination, he had a blast. My wanderlust pairs nicely with his reality. (I every once in awhile need to be reminded of the logistics of things. Unless that thing is getting on a plane to Vietnam, then all bets are off.)

A very young Carrie sliding down Sliding Rock

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Retrying Crank Arm Brewery in Raleigh, NC

crank arm outside

“Let’s go to Crank Arm. I hated it.”

Never thought that I would say those words to my husband. Honestly, we had written off Crank Arm in Raleigh, NC when we tried it several years ago after it had been written up in a prominent publication. I can’t remember the exact one; it may have been one of New York Time‘s travel articles. When we tried it, we thought all the beers tasted the same and didn’t offer the dimension in flavors like Trophy Brewing or LoneRider. But we kept hearing our friends rave about how good the beer was there.

bike at crank arm

So that is how I found myself telling my husband a couple of Sundays ago that we should retry Crank Arm. And to be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I remember.

Crank arm beer list

We got the flight of Crank Arms staple beers: Whitewall (Belgian Wheat with Citra), Unicycle (single hop ale), Rickshaw (American Rye IPA), Darkways (dark Saison with blackberries), and Eat Sleep Bike (extra special bitter).

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Raleigh’s Growing Con Scene

playthrough games

Trae and I went to PlayThrough gaming con in Raleigh on February 25. When we first moved here four years ago, we didn’t realize Raleigh had a con scene, but since discovering it, we have become hooked. And lucky for us, Raleigh’s con scene is growing.

PlayThrough is a smaller con held at the Raleigh Convention Center. A significant portion of the con floor is reserved for gaming from board games to vintage Nintendo games. Another part of the floor is for vendors and game developers. Trae and I had a blast walking around and testing out games like Sausage Drop and Rocket League. We also attended some great panels. I really enjoyed Shawn Long‘s talk on “How to Start a YouTube Gaming Channel.” Honestly, the steps for creating a successful YouTube channel and creating a successful blog aren’t that different.

cosplay

Last year’s OakCity was set up very similar to PlayThrough. The only major different was PlayThrough’s cosplay contest seemed to be a lot more organized. I honestly hadn’t even planned on entering PlayThrough’s contest, but a fairy told me I had to. Judging for Oak City’s cosplay contest took over an hour, which caused us to miss a lot of the con’s activities. Oak City’s judging did take place on the main stage area, so while waiting in line, Trae and I could people watch. However, PlayThrough’s judging was in a separate room and took like five minutes. Quick and painless!

Toad cosplay
Is it just me or does it look like Mario is giving me bunny ears?

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Oreo Gnocchi: A Simple and Quick Valentine’s Day Dessert

oreo gnocchi 13

Valentine’s Day is full of chocolate lava cakes and red-dyed cheesecakes. While there is nothing wrong with these desserts (trust me, I would never turn down a lava cake), I feel like Valentine’s Day desserts could use a little pizzazz.   And my simple Oreo gnocchi is just that pizzazz your Valentine’s Day dessert is looking for. This recipe was inspired by Tastemade’s Speculoos Dessert Gnocchi video; I just wanted to add some chocolate to mine and what better than Oreos, the cookie beloved by all?

Ingredients:
6 to 8 Oreo cookies
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 tablespoon butter

Separate your cookies and cream. Put the cream to the side and then crush the cookies in a food processor. (You can also put the cookie in a ziplock bag and beat the crud out of them.) You will want 1/2 cup of the crushed Oreo.

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A Self-Reflection: Alt a Year Later

Alt pic

*Disclaimer: This post is a little different for The Carolina Couple. I do not want people to think that I am being judge-y about weight or calling anyone overweight. I am just being honest about my personal struggles.*

A year ago, I went to a blogging conference to promote my old blog, Wow and Vow Days. Going to the conference that year was difficult because I had such a poor self-image.  I wrote about my self-image struggles, and that post became one of the most read posts on Wow and Vow Days. And I thought a year later I would revisit the topic of self-image.

I wish I could say that I was in a better place with my looks. In some ways, I am, but in a lot of ways, I am not. When the other conference released pictures on their Flikr, I felt even worse about my body. All I saw was pudge and double chins. I couldn’t even get excited that I met a celebrity because I saw a double-chinned, non-fashionable girl in my photo.  I realize that a lot of those thoughts were due to a negative morphed self-view, but it didn’t stop me from feeling awful about my looks. Continue reading “A Self-Reflection: Alt a Year Later”

Tapped: The Best Place to Grab a Pint in Greenville, NC

Beer can day

Did you know today is Beer Can Appreciation Day? I know this sounds odd, but I love beer cans. I think beer companies come up with some of the punniest names and greatest art for their cans.

beer can day 9

Lonerider Brewery just rebranded, and I love their new look.  I keep wondering what kind of DIY I can come up with so I can turn those cans into coasters.

beer can day 7

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Five Ways to Use Social Media to Plan Your Date Night

MORGANS

Sometimes I feel like Trae and I get into a dating rut: dinner and a movie. (Actually, it is more like Chinese take-out and Redbox.) And honestly, this bothers me a little bit, especially since our area has a lot of fun events going on. The problem is trying to figure out what events are going on, who is having events, etc. I have found social media is the best way to be in the loop on what events are going on and to also know when a lot of unique events are happening.

And since the weekend is fastly approaching, here are the five tips on how to use social media to enhance your date night.

1. Like your local town’s page as well as surrounding towns’ pages

Towns continually update their pages not only with the news but also with new businesses opening up and community events. Trae and I just learned that our town is holding its first food truck rodeo thanks to its Facebook page. Also, thanks to the town’s Facebook page, we learned one of our favorite, but normally too expensive to eat at, restaurants is holding a tasting for its new menu items. Looks like we have two yummy dates in our future! We also like Raleigh’s page and get tons of updates of fun events and downtown festivals that are only a short drive away. Not too long ago we went to watch The Goonies (Trae’s favorite movie) for free in Raleigh’s town square. Don’t forget to check to see if your town’s downtown has their own Facebook page. A lot of times towns will have one main Facebook page and then one downtown page. Greenville, SC, has two pages, and I used to get a lot of great ideas and updates from their downtown page when we lived in that area.

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My Love Letter to the Clemson Family

Clemson stadium hands off

Dear Clemson Family,

I am so proud to be a part of this family. At the young age of 18, I had no idea what an extended family I was entering into when an acceptance letter came to my parent’s house. This family has a unique bond that other colleges just don’t offer. Regardless if you graduated from Clemson or have spent your life cheering for your Tigers, you are a part of this family.

Clemson is the only place I know that would come together 70,000 strong to not only support the team who won the National Championship but to also honor those who came before that winning team. In true Clemson fashion, you came out with your orange and cheered on the 1981 National Championship team and other alumni players as if they were the ones who had thrown the winning touchdown. And in a way, they did throw it because you realize that each Tiger who had come before this team laid the foundation for this win.

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