Girl’s Weekend in Charleston

Happy Monday! Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! My typical MO on a Monday is to share a breakfast recipe, but alas, for the first time in recent memory I did absolutely NO cooking this weekend…none! Instead of (joyfully) slaving away at the stove, I enjoyed the most fabulous girl’s weekend in Charleston, SC with my best friend Anna! You may recognize her as my wonderful traveling companion from all of my China posts.

 Anna and Laurin

I met Anna in college when she became my “little sister” in my sorority and we have been best friends ever since! She lives in Charleston, about two hours away from me and we try to meet in the middle for lunch or dinner every few months to catch up. Each time we meet for a meal we talk non-stop and never seem to have enough time to catch up as much as we’d like, so we decided a weekend reunion was a must. Charleston is a fabulous city, and one that I have had the good fortune to live in for short periods both post college and post graduate school. It is rich in history, full of fun things to do from museums and horse drawn carriage rides to pirate tours and designer shopping, a total foodie destination, and last but not least it is absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the south. There is literally something for everyone, so if you are traveling to South Carolina for the first time, Charleston is a must see destination!

 Cute house

I arrived at Anna’s around 7:30 on Friday and we caught up over a glass of wine as we got ready for dinner. Anna lives close to East Bay Street, which is one of the two main destination streets in downtown Charleston (at least in my mind), the other being King Street. King Street houses the majority of the shopping downtown while East Bay is home to many different restaurants and bars. We decided to try Minero for dinner, a new Mexican restaurant opened by Sean Brock. Sean Brock is a very well known, James Beard award winning southern chef who has appeared on Top Chef several times and has several restaurants in Charleston. I had a feeling the food would be delicious and we were not disappointed.

Anna at Minero Tacos 2

We started with guacamole and margaritas and each ordered several different tacos. I tried the grouper and the green chorizo, both of which were delicious. I was actually inspired to come home and attempt a homemade green chorizo recipe which I am planning to try later this week, wish me luck!


After dinner we called it an early night in anticipation of a big day on Saturday. Saturday morning we woke up early and headed our for a brisk walk around The Battery. The Battery is a seawall around the Charleston Harbor that is lined by breathtaking antebellum homes. I say homes but they are really more like mansions and each is stunning, unique and VERY expensive. Since it’s safe to say I’ll never be able to live in one of these homes, it’s nice to be able to enjoy them as the backdrop to a morning run.

Image courtesy of Trip Advisor since I only took a picture of the water…

The day quickly heated up and we walked back to Anna’s to cool off and enjoy a light breakfast before heading over to King Street for a little retail therapy. King Street has everything from Louis Vuitton to Forever 21 so there is lots to see at every price range. Anna and I both made a few purchases before deciding it was time for lunch. King St. has LOTS of restaurants, Burgers, BBQ, Pizza, Lebanese, Greek, Mexican, Asian, ALL THE FOOD! It’s a foodies dream and an indecisive girls nightmare. Luckily Anna suggested Vietnamese early on in her extensive list of everything available and I remembered how much I LOVED my banh mi in Atlanta a few months ago. We ended up at CO, a Vietnamese restaurant I remember seeing when I lived in Charleston but had never tried. We were seated immediately and decided to split a few things so we could both try a lot.

 edamame dumplings

*Side Note* Is it just me or is one of the best things about girlfriends the fact that they love to share? My mom and I do this too when out to eat but Robert HATES to share. Is this a man thing? Or just a mental thing? Like maybe he doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough to eat if we split things instead of having an entire full meal to himself? He doesn’t mind sharing dessert or appetizers but anytime I’ve suggested splitting a salad or entrees I get shot down immediately and he tells me I should just order both/all of it. Maybe I’ll wear him down eventually.


We ordered the edamame dumplings, pork belly buns and a Korean short rib banh mi. It was all tasty but we both liked the banh mi the best. The lunch prices at CO were surprisingly inexpensive for a sit down restaurant, we both left full but not stuffed and only paid about 10 dollars each! I’ll have to remember to add “cheaper” to my list of reasons to convince Robert to start sharing Smile

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California Part 1–Los Angeles

Remember back in October when I was planning our trip to California? Well we went… in December (and had a fabulous time!) and here I am in April finally getting around to writing about it…insert embarrassed emoji face here.


Robert has the week between Christmas and New Years off every year which lines up perfectly with my Christmas break. We decided this was the perfect time for a trip, and California was not only a destination on both of our bucket lists, but it was also far enough away and big enough to justify spending an entire week there. In true Laurin fashion I had planned our trip down to a T, we would fly into LA, spend two days there and then drive up the coast to San Francisco, stopping in Carmel for a night to break up the drive.

We headed to the airport the day after Christmas, said goodbye to Renly and boarded our flight to Atlanta. We were both hungry when we landed in Atlanta and decided to grab some lunch before boarding our flight to LA. We unknowingly cut it a bit close which ended up working out in our favor. When we arrived at our gate, the flight attendants were in a tizzy trying to accommodate a group of French teenagers who were flying standby. Only one of the group spoke English so they didn’t want to be split up. When Robert and I arrived, they had already given our seats away to some of the group and ended up putting us in the only two available seats left, which just so happened to be in first class. Win!

First Class First Class 4

First Class Food First Class nap

After a second lunch, some wine and a delightful nap since our seats laid completely flat, holla, we landed in LA, well rested and excited to start our trip! After waiting in line at the rental car company for the better part of forever, we made our way to our hotel, the Figueroa in downtown LA.

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The boutique hotel had a lovely lobby.

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The rooms were small and somewhat sparse but clean, decorated in a sort of boho-chic theme. Robert is used to larger, more traditional hotels and didn’t love the Fig, but I thought it was quaint.

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The staff recommended a local Mexican restaurant for dinner, El Cholo.

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Robert and I both enjoyed our meals and went to bed early, full from dinner and ready to hit Hollywood the next morning! I woke up bright and early the next morning only to find poor Robert had been up vomiting the entire night. He is convinced it was food poisoning, but before you cross El Cholo off your list you should know that ALL of Robert’s family had the stomach bug prior to us leaving, so who really knows. He was a pitiful sight so I walked a few blocks to a grocery store to buy him some gatorade and a few slices of toast. After a few more hours of sleep, Robert rallied and we headed out to Hollywood Boulevard.

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Roasted Carrot Chip Nachos

Happy Thursday! Or for many of us who have the luxury of Good Friday off work tomorrow, Happy Friday! Aren’t long weekends just the best? My best friend from home is coming into town for the weekend and I couldn’t be more excited! Hilton Head is a pretty fun place to be when the weather is nice (which it’s predicted to be!) and visitors always give me an excuse to get out and about and be a tourist in my own city. It’s easy to take the fun shops, great restaurants and most of all, the BEACH for granted when you live here, so a fun visitor in town is a great reminder for me to appreciate this lovely resort island I call home Smile Can’t wait for you to get here Caite!

Caite & I last June 🙂

Robert and I have had A LOT going on the last few weeks so I have done a lot of batch cooking. This week we’ve had several repeat dinners of salads topped with pulled rotisserie chicken (love these in a pinch) and THIS delicious BBQ chicken chili from one of my favorite food blogs. I highly recommend this recipe as it’s both easy and so tasty in a very unique way. It’s different from any other chili recipe I’ve ever tried and is full of flavor, so if you are a chicken chili chick (hellloooo alliteration) like me, give it a go!

Since I haven’t been making anything especially unique this week, I’m sharing a recipe I made a few weeks back that got the thumbs up from Robert. I have been on a roasted carrot kick for a while now. Roasting is not only one of the easier ways to prepare vegetables (besides boiling…barf) but it also really elevates the flavor. Roasting is by and large my favorite way to eat carrots and has given me a totally new appreciation for the little orange guys. Roasting made my view of carrots go from the sad, raw alternative to pretzels/chips on the dip platter, to basically akin to french fries. Talk about a 180.

Roasted Carrots 2

At first, I was peeling and cutting up the big carrots, then I wised up and realized that although less cost effective, buying the pre-cut veggies was a HUGE time saver. Carrots in particular come in about 6 different shapes, any of which are great to roast, except maybe the shredded ones. I found that a bag of the pre-cut crinkled carrot chips was the perfect amount for Robert and I to share as a side, and also the perfect shape to dunk into yummy dips like homemade ranch or chimi churri, or ketchup if you’re Robert and you get down like that. Eating these carrots as “chips” gave me the bright idea to substitute them for actual chips and prepare some nachos. Robert and I both love Mexican food and typically eat it at least once a week so I was sure this would be a winner, and as usual, I was right Smile

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Cheesy Green Chile Chicken and Cauliflower Rice Casserole

Ok so that recipe title is kind of a mouthful, right? I have subsequently added “recipe naming” to my list of things to work on. You’re welcome in advance. Another thing I’d like to work on, couponing. Extreme couponing = fascinating and bewildering. How people are able to buy 67 tubes of toothpaste, 35 packages of ramen and 10 jars of peanut butter and pay negative seventeen cents is beyond me. I can’t even remember to use my $5 off a purchase of $50 at Publix. I have literally had the same coupon floating around in my purse for 6 months and I only think about using it after I am in my car headed home from the grocery store. Saving money is apparently not really my thing.

I hope everyone had a happy Veterans Day! I am very thankful to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve our great country. I was also very thankful to have a day off from work because I spent it…..drumroll please……sick in bed. Womp. Not even a little bit as exciting or productive as my previous Tuesday off. Instead of checking a million things off of my to-do list, I spent most of the day in bed with Renly. Tough life right?


Despite the stuffy nose and headache part, it was actually nice to spend the day resting. I am always so quick to fill up “free time” that I usually forget the whole point of having a day off, to re-charge. Don’t get me wrong, it’s glorious to get things done (especially mid-week) but sometimes we really just need to put the brakes on. I’ve always thought getting a cold was your body’s way of telling you to slow down. Well that or my body’s way of telling me to stop letting the preschoolers I work with sneeze all over me.

So what I had hoped would be another busy Tuesday turned into a day of rest and puppy cuddles, and it was just what I needed. Thank you for slowing me down Veterans and sneezing preschoolers Smile

Another plus to a day at home (even a sick one) is that I had time to prepare a more prep intensive meal than usual. Although I say prep intensive, it was really pretty easy and only involved one extra appliance so don’t click away just yet! I found this yummy looking recipe on one of my favorite food blogs a few weeks ago. Yum right? I’m sure the recipe is absolutely delicious as is (all of hers are!) but I am weird and sometimes like to see how many non-vegetables I can replace with vegetables. Just normal things you would replace with vegetables like pasta, rice, alfredo sauce. What? Doesn’t everyone make alfredo sauce with cauliflower instead of cheese and cream? No? Ok, well just go with it. It may sound crazy, but it tastes delicious. And trust me, if my cheeseburger loving husband actually eats and likes these hidden veggie dishes then there’s a good chance you will too.

cauliflower cauliflower rice

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