Charleston Porch

spring style

Walk through Charleston and you’re bound to see the iconic Charleston porch. Originally built to bring in the cross breeze from the ocean, porches are now a prominent part of the city’s lifestyle and history. The porches often times run the length of the house and have many entrances to the now air conditioned inside. The open-air side porch invites guests to stay a little longer, rest from the heat, and perhaps to dine alfresco. Many of the porches we visited had the classic Charleston dark green wicker furniture and tables to set down a sweet ice tea. Another interesting piece of furniture we saw on the porches were Joggling Boards. Born in the south around the early 1800s, Joggling Boards quickly became a porch staple. They were first built for therapeutic health purposes, and then became “courting benches” in the 19th century where young couples would sit on the bench and joggle, or bounce, toward each other to the center. I got the opportunity to take a bounce on the long moving bench, and may have even convinced my mom that she needs one for her yard.

Charleston porch long skirt lowcountry porchCharleston porches

White Blouse {similar}, Anthropologie Maeve Skirt, Banana Republic Sandals, J.Crew Necklace and Bracelet, Banana Republic Ring, Crystal Earrngs

Note: I miss those long Charleston porches.

Lowcountry Cuisine

Lowcountry cuisine is unique to the South Carolina and Georgia coasts. These areas enjoy traditional Southern dishes, like grits and hush puppies, but there are different ways in which they’re prepared. Influenced by the African and Caribbean cultures, lowcountry cuisine includes a diversity of seafood from the local waters and has strong parallels with Cajun cooking. There isn’t an area in the U.S. that has as big of a food culture as the south. California may be known for it’s specialty options like, organic locally grown gluten-free vegan dishes, but in the lowcountry there are actual dishes that are distinct to the area. I of course had to try them. We went to some of the best restaurants in town to get a true culinary experience and we visited the mom and pop restaurants to get a taste of the every day.

Magnolias
I read about Magnolias fine dining lowcountry cuisine, so it was the first place we went to for dinner. I started with the tomato, cucumber and black-eyed pea salad. Surprisingly it was my first time having black-eyed peas. My mom ordered fried green tomatoes, another new dish. For dinner I ordered the blackened catfish and dirty rice. Rice is used in a lot of lowcountry dishes, since it’s a local farm staple. I finished the meal with a Southern favorite, pecan pie. 
 

salad with blackeyed peascat fish and ricepecan pie

Cypress
Cypress and Magnolia are both owned by the same management company. I had the special white fish with peas in a sweet Cajun style sauce. Everything was amazing. The fish was light and flaky. And the dessert was especially amazing. I love macarons and I love strawberries, so this was the perfect combination. The vanilla-almond macaron was layered with a white chocolate pastry cream and drizzled with lavender honey. It was AH-Mazing! 
 
fish and peas
Strawberry Macaron
 
Peninsula Grill
Peninsula Grill is located inside the gorgeous historic Planters Inn. We heard a lot about hush puppies while on the trip, but had yet to try them. So I started with a light tomato salad and ended with a shrimp and rice dish with crab filled hushpuppies. Hushpuppies are deep fried cornmeal batter that’s rolled into a small ball. 
 
tomato salad
hush puppies and shrimp
 
Note: Other lowcountry foods I tried were grits, both gourmet and cheesy, she-crab soup, crab cakes, Hoppin’ John, and beignets {which is a borrowed pastry from France}
 
 

Windows of Charleston

Windows of Charleston

What makes Charleston so charming? Along with all of the wrought iron fences, historic buildings and lovely people, it’s the many shutters and beautiful window frames. Each one was different. With a different combination of buildings, shutters, and flower boxes. This is part of what makes Charleston perfect for a girls trip. Every corner you turn down is an oooh and and awww. The windows of Charleston have seen many things. If the walls could talk, then the windows would be shouting with great stories of the past. Charleston is considered one of the safest cities in America, and you feel safe when you are walking the streets at night. This is another reason why is makes a great destination for a girls trip.

brick building charleston shutter box Charleston shutter charleston spring flowers Brick window

Note: These charming windows of Charleston may be a little too girly for some.

Beachy Cool

Cool beach outfit

This beachy cool outfit was perfect when the weather started to warm up toward the end of the trip. We stayed a night down in the small beach town of Beaufort and got a feel for a different part of the Low Country. If I thought life was quiet in Charleston it was even quieter down by the beaches, in what the locals called Slow Country. The Low Country of South Carolina is the geographic area along South Carolina’s coast. This region is also different because of it’s unique heritage culture. We heard the term Low Country almost every day of the trip, whether is was on the menu at a restaurant to describe the food, overheard from a tour guide or on a jar of local jam. They take pride in their culture. Charleston is usually included when describing the Low Country, but it definitely includes Beaufort where we spent a few days by the beach.

beach outfit beachy cool spring outfitbeachy cool clothes2

Gap Shirt, Linen Pants {similar}, Banana Republic Sandals, J.Crew Bracelet, Banana Republic Earrings

Note: This beachy cool outfit made me really feel like I was on vacation.

Charleston

Cherry blossoms

When it came time to decide where we would go for our mother-daughter trip, there wasn’t much question in choosing Charleston. I always reference my 1,000 Places to See Before You Die book before going on any trip. It’s great for deciding when is the best time of year to go, top things to see and places to stay. I then do my own research online and consult with any friends who I know have visited the area. There’s a lot that goes into choosing a travel destination. In the book it said that one of the best times to go to Charleston is in March for the Festival of Houses and Gardens. I immediately looked it up and decided that it would fit perfectly into our girly vacation. From there we planned the rest of the trip, which I can’t wait to share!

cobblestone street

The first day was the gardens tour. Unfortunately you can’t take pictures of the homes or gardens and could only take pictures from the street. In fact, it’s illegal to take pictures inside private residences in Charleston without the consent of the owner. With all of the paparazzi in LA that would never pass. So the historical homes and gardens live only in my memory. Which is quite a beautiful thought. The first garden was the most magnificent. There were three separate piazzas, one for each portion of the house. The large main house, the guest house and the old barn which was converted into an indoor swimming pool room. I wish we were able to have a tour of that house! It was gorgeous.

Charleston festival of houses and gardens

The next day was the homes tour. My favorite home was the one with the best story. The house below was built in the 1860s and was the only New Street residence to survive the Great Fire of 1861, which no one knows how it was started. When the house was first built the owners held a ball and it was there that a young couple met and soon married. The current owner is the great grand-daughter of that couple. Three generations later and the story comes full circle. Another beautiful thought to hold in my memory of Charleston.

Charleston home

Here are some other homes and gardens I enjoyed while walking around Charleston.

Large porchHistoric American homeazaleapink home grand porch

Note: Visit Charleston in March to see all of the flowers in bloom and the historical homes and gardens.

Spring Rain

long driveway

We lucked out on the weather in Charleston and the spring rain only rolled in one day. Well technically it was two nights, but it occurred within the same 24 hour period. We rarely ever get a spring rain in LA, so it was a nice surprise. Although it was a bit unpredictable and I had to change up my outfit. I packed a pair of boots just in case it rained. When you don’t know what the weather will be like it’s always good to pack a pair of boots. They can be worn with a dress if the weather warms up or pants if you’re not sure if it’s going to rain. Which is what I chose, and as I could have guessed it didn’t rain and I was walking around in my hot boots. I was happy I had on a really light sweater.

high bun oak lined driveway top knotspring rain

 

Banana Republic Sweater, BP Tank Top, Hudson Jeans, Latigo Boots, Wood Link Bracelet {similar}, Gold Stud Earrings, Initial Necklace

Note: A classic bootie can take you through every season.

Retro Style

70s retro style

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of compliments and questions about my retro style sunglasses. I purchased these sunglasses about four or five years ago at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. I love going to the flea market and finding unique fashion pieces, and these sunglasses happen to be my favorite purchase so far. These 1970′s vintage Yves Saint Laurent shades take me back to another era, especially when paired with a retro inspired white separates suit. When I put on this outfit I felt like I was walking out of a Bee Gees concert. And with the arrival of spring there was definitely a skip in my step.

70s sunglasses retro style spring colors white shorts suit

Zara Jacket, J.Crew Sweater, Bebe Shorts {similar}, Soludos Shoes, J.Crew Necklace, Vintage YSL Sunglasses {similar}

Note: I love the 70′s, but if I could live in any era it would definitely be the 60′s.

Blue Blazer

coach bag

Never underestimate the classic blue blazer. I wore this my first day in Charleston and the jacket became a staple the rest of the trip. It was perfect for the crisp spring days and when layered with a scarf, it kept me warm on the cool nights. There was actual spring weather and I loved it! We don’t get much of a spring in LA, so it was nice to have the fresh crisp weather in Charleston. I fell in love with the charming city! I can’t wait to share more pictures. There were so many cobblestone streets, large porches, windows with shutters, and wrought iron fences. I was cruising around the classic city in my classic blue coat.

blue blazer blue coat charleston outfit charleston sc charleston

J.Crew Blue Blazer, Antik Batik Blouse, Hudson Jeans, Latigo Boots, Coach Purse, Vintage YSL Sunglasses {similar}, Kate Spade New York Bracelet, Vintage Button Ring {similar}

Note: Invest in a classic blue blazer.

Meditation

meditation

This year for lent I decided to do something different. Instead of giving something up, like sugar or coffee like I normally do, I decided to add something to my day. Meditation. Every day I’ve been taking 10-15 minutes in the morning or before I go to bed to meditate. It’s actually kind of ironic that I’m celebrating a Catholic holiday with a Hindu practice. But to me it makes sense. I’m taking time out to think and reflect, or pray, during one of the holiest observations. I don’t think God judges you based on which religion you choose and how strictly you follow it. But this isn’t about religion, it’s about meditation. A personal spiritual practice.

There are all different types of meditation. There’s the traditional type, which is what most people think of, and that’s sitting there crossed legged with your eyes closed. There’s moving meditation, which a lot of people do on a daily basis and probably don’t even realize. It’s hiking to the top of the mountain and taking in the beautiful view. It’s getting lost in thoughts while on a jog. Or practicing yoga and transitioning your mind through the poses.

As I’ve just started my daily meditation journey, I’ve decided to follow along the Chakra Meditation book to learn about the different ways to open up your meditation practice and your chakras. I would like to say that the daily meditation has made me even more calm and that I never get mad. But that’s not the case. Just like anything else it’s a practice. I mean, I haven’t even been able to sit there longer than 15 minutes. I’m still working on it. But through this practice I know I will become closer to the higher power. I’ll be closer to the spiritual side of my own being and I will be one step closer to finding a more peaceful state of mind.

Note: Wishing you a blessed weekend.

Mother-Daughter Vacation

Mother-Daughter Vacation

Today I leave for a mother-daughter vacation to Charleston, South Carolina. My mom has always wanted to go on a trip just the two of us, and we’re finally packing our bags for a girly getaway. We’ve done lots of family trips and mother-daughter days, but never a vacation. And I couldn’t be more excited to go to Charleston! It’s on my list of must see U.S. cities and March is supposed to be one of the best times to visit. Every March the Historic Charleston Foundation hosts the Festival of Houses and Gardens, a historic home and garden tour that takes place throughout the city.

Toward the end of the week we’re heading to Beaufort, a small quaint beach town about an hour south of Charleston. I’m ready to relax, go shopping with the mom, and spend some lazy days by the beach. I love exploring new towns, so there won’t be too much lounging around. Can’t wait to share all of the pictures. It will be my first time in the South, and I will be clicking away!

Note: Follow me on Instagram @NatalieNotions for my daily adventures in Charleston!

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