GINGHAM IN THE GARDENS

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Any time someone pays us a visit here in Durham, one of my favorite spots to go when showing them around is Sarah P. Duke Gardens. This lush on-campus oasis is such a gorgeous retreat, with 55 acres of four separate garden areas, featuring a wide variety of regional and seasonal plants. I’d been a few times before, but it truly felt like a new, magical wonderland during my visit of the Spring season. Everywhere you look, you’re surrounded by a rainbow of blooms! I loved this H&M gingham off-the-shoulder top on its own, but I just couldn’t help but throw my new Victoria Beckham for Target bee-print scarf around my neck to add a little playfulness to the look. I’ve noticed that many girls style OTS with very minimal accessories so that the neckline does all of the talking, but I think they’re the perfect tops to pair with statement-making neckwear, whether it’s a chunky necklace, a choker, or a bandana or light scarf. I’m wearing my white jeans once again (I can now assure you that you NEED some white denim for Spring & Summer!), and I kept the accessories dark to tie into the specks of black in the scarf. Now tell me- what’s your favorite Spring flower? I love daffodils! They had the cutest mini ones in the gardens hiding underneath the tulips! ?

Emily
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H&M Off-the-Shoulder Top in Blue/Checked
H&M Skinny High Ankle Jeans in White Denim
Women's Bee Print Scarf with Marigold Trim - Victoria Beckham for Target
Nordstrom Clarks Parram Luxe Sandal in Black Suede
Nordstrom J. Crew Toothpick Jeans in White
ASOS Vero Moda Off The Shoulder Top in Blue
DSW Crown Vintage Sarah Gladiator Sandal in Black Faux Suede
Marks & Spencer M&S COLLECTION Bee Print Scarf
Target Mossimo Faux Leather Crossbody Handbag with Magnetic Closure in Black

H&M Off-the-Shoulder Top (linked above)

Joe’s Cropped White Jeans (no longer available, similar options linked) Also worn here

Victoria Beckham for Target Bee Print Scarf (sold out online, similar option linked)

Target Sam & Libby Lace-up Sandals (no longer available, similar options linked) Also worn here

Target Mossimo Black Faux Leather Crossbody Bag (linked above) Also worn hereherehere, and here

April 2017

“Gingham in the Gardens” Photographed by Luke Bowes & Emily Davis

2017-04-19T05:16:11+00:00 April 19th, 2017|Fashion|12 Comments

A DAY AT BLUE WHISTLER FARM

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Luke and I always try to make the most out of our weekends. We’re not the type to frequent the movie theater every Friday night – we’re always on the hunt for unique experiences. Because of our recent move, Durham is our oyster and with sites like Get Offline and plenty of contacts at Duke who are more than happy to lend recommendations, I don’t see us getting bored any time soon. I found out about Blue Whistler Farm on Facebook by seeing their “Open Farm” event. According to their website, Open Farm and Markets are typically held every second and fourth Sunday of the month but the next one will be held on October 9th. See their event calendar for more activities and “Like” their Facebook page to be in the know with up to date info (in the event of a cancellation, etc.).

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Anyone close to me knows about my strong feelings against factory farming. It is ruining our country in so many aspects that I don’t think were initially anticipated by corporations and the FDA, but they believe that they are in too deep now to admit that they were wrong and remedy the situation. Mass-produced livestock eats primarly (or in most cases, only) GMO-produced feed which makes them abnormally large, equaling more meat. Antibiotics are heavily administered to prevent infection from breaking out because of the confined quarters. When we eat this poor-quality “meat”, we are ingesting the GMO’s and the antibiotics as well. The run-off from their waste is toxic and spawns disease in vegetation (E.Coli outbreak in Spinach). If I kept typing all the things I despise about the American “industry” of farming, you would be reading this post until Monday. So when I find a special place like Blue Whistler Farm, I have to share it. This farm, located in Bahama, North Carolina (20 minutes north of Durham) is run by young couple Josh and Amy Sliffe. It is a sustainable farm using non-GMO feed and creating an environment on its 5 acres that allows the animals to fulfill their natural duties, “with the larger animals mowing, the smaller animals scratching and spreading”, the farm is naturally efficient. As someone who cares very deeply for animals, I love being able to see them in an environment that they were created to be in and that is exactly what Blue Whistler is all about – raising livestock the way they were meant to live, informing the community about these amazing animals, and providing that community with quality experiences and products. If we want to put an end to factory farming, we have to start supporting trustworthy, local farmers like Amy and Josh.  P.S. I learned that the poultry eat lots of bugs, including mosquitos, and I’m here to say that we had no issues with bug bites whatsoever during our visit (I don’t even remember flies being a nuissance).

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There is plenty to do and see on open farm day. Carrots and apples for the rabbits and pigs are welcome (and I would recommend bringing some – nothing like some food-inspired motivation to bring the animals up close and personal). Chicken holding 101 was a favorite among the children, but the tire swing came in a close second. There were plenty of newborn animals for this open market, although the piglets were my favorite (I just can’t handle the cuteness of those curly little tails)! After making our way around the farm, we stopped at the Bluebird Bakery stand to grab some sweet corn and blackberry ice cream (unexpected combo, I know, but so delicious!).

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Visiting Blue Whistler Farm has been one of my favorite things we’ve gotten to do so far in Durham. It makes for a unique weekend experience and spending some time on the farm gives you an unmatched sense of peace that you will carry for the rest of your Sunday and into your week. The whole family will love it and it’s a great educational opportunity for the kiddos to learn about farming and livestock. Bring a picnic if you like, or grab a pastry or ice cream from BlueBird, find a bench or a spot in the grass and just take some time to appreciate farmers like Amy and Josh who are committed to sharing their sustainable practices with their community – and don’t forget to leave without some Blue Whistler Farm fresh meat and eggs. I’m pretty picky when it comes to eggs – I like a rich, orangey yolk, but thanks to their chickens’ variety of diet these are some of the best eggs I’ve ever had!

Helpful Links;

Blue Whistler Farm’s Official Website

Blue Whistler Farm’s Official Facebook Page

BlueBird Bakery’s Official Facebook Page

Get Offline (Primarily in North Carolina right now, except Nashville, but will be available in more cities soon)

2017-04-03T00:30:02+00:00 September 16th, 2016|Food, Travel|6 Comments

MONUTS RESTAURANT REVIEW

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We haven’t been living here in Durham for all that long, but we’ve somehow managed to eat at Monuts a few times already. I feel like I should be ashamed of going to one restaurant multiple times instead of trying new places, but when you find a place as special as Monuts, you will be willing to wait in line all day for a peach pistachio donut. From what I’ve heard (I can’t tell you because I’m a repeat customer at only one restaurant), Durham is quite the foodie town. Over the next two years I plan on eating around to see if Bull City truly lives up to the title of the “foodie capital of the south“, and of course I plan to document my experiences for all of you, too. 😉 Something that particularly excites me about the Durham food scene is that “farm-to-table” dives seem to be the name of the game. I am a strong supporter of local farming and eating seasonally so I’m thrilled that this “trend” is catching on and I hope it continues as more and more people begin to think about where their food is coming from. Monut’s menu is made by hand from scratch using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. They began selling donuts off of a tricycle at the local farmers market, upgraded to a restaurant, and moved to the current Ninth Street location after they out-grew their previous store-front. I’ve only been on the weekend so I don’t know how applicable this is Monday-Friday but if you want a table, you should be there when they open. For this review, we arrived about 10 minutes prior to the eight o’clock Sunday morning opening and there were already a handful of people waiting outside. Saving tables isn’t allowed until you’ve placed your order and gotten a number to put on your table-top, so finding a spot is definitely a matter of good timing. The bar however, is first come first served so if you see a couple of free chairs, snatch them up and wait on the bartender to take your order.

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Something that is really unique about Monuts is that they are not only a bomb bakery, but also a full-service breakfast and lunch joint. It’s the perfect brunch spot because there is truly something for everyone – not just donut aficionados. Their variety of breakfast sandwiches is vast, but even if you can’t find anything on the main menu to tickle your tastebuds, there is always the option to build your own sandwich or create your own breakfast or lunch with a customizable side plate (think avocado toast and maple Sriracha home fries, to name a couple of choices). This time around, I tried the “Heirloom Summer” sandwich with a plain bagel, chèvre cream cheese, heirloom tomatoes, over-medium farm eggs and basil pesto. Albeit a little challenging to eat, the flavor combinations in this sammy were amazing and it featured some of the freshest and most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever eaten. Luke chose the “Guac Dirty to Me” – house breakfast sausage, farm egg, red onion, queso fresco, and – of course, guacamole between a fresh biscuit. You can’t go to Monuts without getting donuts, so I chose the Peach Pistachio yeast (traditional donut) while Luke chose the Blueberry Pancake (cake donut). I’ve eaten many donuts in all my carb-loving years, but Monuts are continually some of my favorites and these two flavors were no exception. I couldn’t believe how much the blueberry pancake tasted like an actual pancake and Luke and I were arguing about the science behind gourmet donut making before coming to the conclusion that maybe buttermilk was the secret pancake-flavored ingredient.

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I know I don’t have much validity to say this quite yet, but Monuts is definitely my favorite Durham dive so far. I relate to Leslie Knope in more ways than one but in particular, our undying love for breakfast foods is eerily coincidental – I could eat eggs, avocado toast, waffles, or even donuts for every meal and be perfectly satisfied. I imagine that kind of versatility is what keeps people coming back to Monuts time and time again – their menu is anything but boring and with their seasonal offerings,  you could come once every week for a year and never have the same breakfast twice. But these sandwiches and sides are mere supporting characters to their superstar – the Monut donut. With classics such as plain glazed to more gourmet options like the North Carolinian – a sweet potato cake donut with a bourbon & sea salt glaze, Monuts donuts are sure to please the entire crew.

Monuts Website

“Monuts Restaurant Review” Photographed by Emily Davis & Luke Bowes

© Emily Davis

2017-04-03T00:30:02+00:00 September 7th, 2016|Food|0 Comments