Four Days in Charleston in the Fall

Four days in Charleston, SC in the fall - Rainbow Row
In October, we took a 1 year anniversary trip to Charleston, SC. I am such a foodie so after Top Chef Charleston, I have been wanting to go this southern city. Off we went...

We stayed at a boutique art hotel in the French Quarter, The Vendue. The hotel has rotating art exhibitions. I love these dogs we were greeted with when checking in- with a glass of bubbly! We were off to a great start. The hotel has a small bar for cocktails (as part of The Drawing Room restaurant) and roof deck bar + restaurant which we went to a couple a nights for the sunset. The service was amazing from before we checked in (earlier the week we left, the concierge called to see if needed anything for our stay, which has never happened before!) to throughout our 3.5 day stay. From the location, the service, and the ambiance, I can't recommend the hotel enough!
Charleston SC Hotel Downtown The Vendue
The Rooftop at the Vendue sunset Charleston SC

One afternoon we used the hotel's free bikes to explore down The Battery and the historic streets. We stopped many times to gaze at the beautiful homes and take pictures.
Bike riding in Charleston SC
Charleston SC dock
Charleston SC The Battery
Riding bikes in Charleston SC

After I took this doorstep picture and we were heading to continue biking around, a man stopped to help us with our bikes and he ended up being the owner of this house! He said he would've invited us in for a drink but he had somewhere to be. Ahh what could have been!
The Battery fall decorated house Charleston SC

Around every corner - color and unique architecture... especially the famous Rainbow Row! #instagramhusband, thank you. ;)
Rainbow Row Charleston SC
Rainbow Row window box florals, Charleston SC
Charleston SC architecture

We did a few typical tourist activities. We visited the old Angel Oak about 25 minutes outside the city on John's Island. The Oak is 400-500 years old and just amazing to stand under.
Angel Oak tree Charleston, SC John's Island
Angel Oak tree Charleston, SC John's Island

We went to the Boone Hall Plantation for a tour of the house and the grounds. The Notebook was filmed here and Blake Likely + Ryan Reynolds were married here so clearly had to check it out. I couldn't get over the beautiful mile long, oak-lined driveway and the many flowers in the gardens - with butterflies everywhere!
Boone Plantation Charleston SC
Boone Plantation garden Charleston SC
Boone Plantation garden with butterfly Charleston SC

We also took a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city one afternoon. While we had biked the area, we learned so much more about the history of the city from our guide. I recommend doing a tour despite it being the most touristy activity, ever, haha.
Charleston SC horse drawn carriage ride tour

We then explored the historic area some more, and I couldn't get enough of the beautiful doors, windows, and architecture!
Charleston, SC architecture, window boxes, and doors

Saturday was our last full day and we spent most of it at Folly Beach. Going to the beach in October when its in the high 70s and sunny? I will take it!  It was easy to take an Uber and rent chairs + umbrella. We explored the pier - from above and below!
Folly Beach Charleston SC 
Folly Beach Pier Charleston SC
Then we grabbed a quick bite at Jack of Cups. It was a unique spot where we had lo mein and curry mac + cheese (Yelp reviews were raves for that dish, so had to try it). Center Street is the main drag off the beach and had so many fun bars + restaurants, which I am sure would be a blast to hop around for a more "party" experience.
Jack of Cups Folly Beach green curry mac and cheese

Speaking of food, we ate WELL. All the meals were absolutely delicious. Let's just say I planned this trip around breakfast, lunch, and dinner then we filled in the activities, lol. Some stand outs:

Sausage, egg, and pimento cheese biscuit breakfast sandwich at Callie's Hot Little Biscuit (Doug has this twice!!). Omg so good.
Callie's Hot Little Biscuit Charleston SC sausage pimento egg breakfast sandwich

"Tapas-style" seafood lunch at Leon's Oyster Shop. We shared peel + eat shrimp, local oysters, smoked mahi dip and fried clam lettuce wraps. All washed down with frosé for me. The vibe of this spot is so cool- highly recommend.
Leon's Oyster Shop Charleston SC

Afternoon treat at Jeni's Ice Cream. I had their 2 seasonal flavors: sweet potato with torched marshmallow and sweet cream biscuit with peach jam. YUM. Come to Boston, Jeni's?
Jeni's Ice Cream Charleston SC

Our three dinners were amazing and each very different.
My favorite dish at Husk (and maybe the whole trip) was the grits with pork belly appetizer. I am still thinking about it.
Dinner at Husk Charleston, SC

Hominy Grill served up southern classics and I loved my meal of brisket, tomato pudding (who knew so delicious), and fried grits. Actually still thinking about this meal, as well! DC got their shrimp and grits which were also yummy.
dinner at Hominy Grill Charleston SC

Fig was our final dinner and we may have saved the best for last. We got the ricotta gnocchi and lamb bolognese to start. I don't think I've had such melt in your mouth gnocchi, ever. For my meal, I had the fish stew with mussels, shrimp, squid, rice, delicious broth and grilled bread for dipping. Another meal I am thinking about still.
Dinner Fig Charleston SC

We also had lunch at Pawpaw (fried chicken!), coffee at Black Tap near the college, and brunch at Poogan's Porch (pimento cheese fritters!).
Poogan's Porch Charleston SC pimento cheese fritters

Some restaurants we didn't get to but heard good things were 167 Raw, McGrady's, Xiao Bao Biscuit, Butcher and Bee, and Lewis BBQ. My restaurant list was even longer - so many great spots.

Our last night we took in the city from the roof at the Market Pavilion Hotel. Highly recommend going up there. The views and ambiance are even better than The Rooftop at The Vendue.
Market Pavilion Hotel roof deck sunset Charleston SC

From a shopping perspective, I loved the Maris DeHart boutique which was across the street from our hotel - how convenient! - and walking down King Street (below) with many boutiques + stores.
King Street Charleston SC

In hindsight, I would recommend renting a car but using Uber/Lyft was very easy too - just what you prefer!

Thanks, Charleston! Check out more photos on Instagram using the hashtag #CovalsYear1.
Exploring Charleston SC in the fall

All photos by me.


Holiday Gift Guide for Shopping Small and Local in Boston

In honor of Small Business Saturday on November 25th and that the holiday shopping season is officially upon us, I've rounded up some local Boston area based gifts for everyone on your list. While it's tempting to take advantage of all the sales from national brands and stores, take the time to see what's available in our backyard here in and around Boston. There is such a strong local community of entrepreneurs!

For her... your mom, sister, best gal pal, grandma, partner...
Shop Small Shop Local Boston Holiday Gift Guide For Her

  1. RMS Beauty palette for on-the-go touch ups, via Beacon Hill or South End Follain store or online 
  2. Small pearl studs with a twist created by local jewelry designer Hannah Blount 
  3. Calligraphy print with attitude for her bedroom or office, via local maker posh + prep (been available at South boutique Neatly Nested)
  4. Everyday Co. napkins for everyday or special entertaining at home, for sale in local boutiques, online, and at their holiday pop-up at the ID Building
  5. Leather card holder via Beacon Hill shop December Thieves 

For him... your husband, dad, brother, partner, uncle...
Shop Small Shop Local Boston Holiday Gift Guide For Him

  1. A bottle of wine and Drink Progressively, a new wine + food pairing cookbook from South End wine store Urban Grape
  2. Live edge coaster set for any bevi to rest, via local maker on Etsy JHM Wood Crafts
  3. A trio of the best caramel candies by local candy company McCrea's Candies, via local boutiques or online
  4. Leather dopp kit for travels near and far, via South End boutique Olives & Grace
  5. Iced coffee crochet cozy, because it's always iced coffee season in Boston(!), via local maker on Etsy Salem Style

For the babies + kiddos...
Shop Small Shop Local Boston Holiday Gift Guide For Baby and Kid

  1. Unisex leather baby booties to keep their toes warm, via South End boutique Olives & Grace
  2. A selection of new books for all ages, via South End kids store CouCou
  3. Gender neutral romper + hat set for winter dressing, via local maker on Etsy Zaa Berry
  4. Felt crown for dress-up, via local maker on Etsy The Winding Vine
  5. Christmas bandana bibs to stay festive all December, via local maker on Etsy Foreverly Joy
Where do you shop local in and around Boston? Happy gifting!

PS: More on where to shop small in and around Boston and past gift guides.


Fall girls weekend in Portsmouth, NH

Girls weekend in the fall in Portsmouth, NH
My friends and I had a girls weekend trip this past weekend in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Just under one hour from Boston, Portsmouth is a charming small city with great shopping and restaurants. Everything is walking distance so it's ideal for a quick getaway.
Fall foliage in Portsmouth, NH

We arrived Saturday afternoon for manicures and pedicures (love the new Essie nail color I picked up) at a spa on Congress Street, Janegee. The pedicure was lovely with speciality essential oil scrub and lotion. They also have a store area with their own line plus products from RMS Beauty, Coyuchi and other natural brands.
Janegee natural spa in Portsmouth, NH

After, we checked into the hotel downtown and got ready for dinner at Moxy. It was my friends birthday too, so we had some pre-dinner bubbly to celebrate.
Girls weekend in the fall in Portsmouth, NH

We enjoyed cocktails and tapas to share then went off to Latchkey around the corner from our hotel for live music.
Girls weekend in the fall in Portsmouth, NH

Sunday morning, we filled up with breakfast at The Friendly Toast. A friendly tip: download their app to "put" yourself in line for a table and not actually have to wait in line! My friend and I split the Greek omelette and french toast with caramelized bananas - a little savory + a little sweet.
The Friendly Toast breakfast in Portsmouth, NH

We then shopped around our favorite spots: Gus & Ruby (with a Christmas display already!), Ramblers Way (love their sustainable clothing), Lively Kids (for my 2 friends with kiddos), and Bliss - there are so many shops on Congress Street and Market Street worth stopping in!
Gus & Ruby store in Portsmouth, NH
Shopping in downtown Portsmouth, NH

Thanks for the laughs + memories, Portsmouth!

Collage: Bee's Knees

Bees are having a moment! From Gucci to J.Crew and TOMS, bees are popping up on leather goods, jewelry, shoes and more. Outfit yourself or your home with a bee-autiful accent this fall.

The Bee's Knees

PS: more collages and inspiration.


One Year Married

One year ago, we walked down the aisle and became husband + wife. It seems a good a time as ever to share photos and details from our best day ever. :)

Getting ready... 
Arriving at the venue...
One of my favorite quotes greeted guests: "to me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world" - Antoine Saint-Exupery
First looks...
The ceremony...
I had string musicians create custom arrangements of our ceremony songs.
Processional: Where You Lead
Recessional: Cruise
Cocktails and kicking off the celebration...
Inside the tent...

Special details + favorite moments...
The color palette we chose was deep red/burgundy, eggplant, pink, white, + cream, evoking a romantic, old world feeling that was inspired by our love of Florence, Italy. Lanterns and cloches were part of the decor.

The signature drink was a blood orange gin + tonic. DC's favorite drink got an Italian twist with blood orange juice, also a nod to our alma mater Syracuse University!

One of my favorite details of the whole day was our escort card table. I had seen this idea on an Italian wedding blog of unique vessels with fruit + flowers and vertical cards displaying table numbers + guest names. My mom and I scoured Etsy for vintage Italian ceramic bowls. Wild Folk Studio and Posh + Prep executed the escort table vision perfectly with an array of fruits and burgundy calligraphy, respectively. The rented wooden table from Peterson Party Center was the finishing touch.

A favorite moment of the day was our first look in a small, private garden at the venue. I was so nervous and excited to see DC. Walking up to him, I felt like it had been forever since seeing him, when it was less than 24 hours! We both teared up seeing one another and it was such a special, serene moment with just the soundtrack of the wind blowing. Hello Love Photography captured DC's reaction perfectly; I cried when seeing the photo of him wiping his eyes!  

Another favorite moment was when I was about to walk out and head down the aisle. I started really tearing up and saying “oh my, I can’t believe this is happening!” My mom turned to me and said, “this is your big moment. Smile, look up, don’t cry, and enjoy it!”. Her and my dad both walked me down the aisle and when we got out in the field where everyone first saw us, a big gust of wind blew my veil over my head! We couldn’t help but laugh as we fixed it quickly and continued on. I couldn’t stop smiling at that point, especially when I saw my soon-to-be hubby at the end of the aisle.

My something old was a collection of crystal brooches from my grandmas that I put in my hair. Kevin Hadfield created my vision of soft waves and braided details with the brooches.

My something new was of course the dress. 

My something borrowed was my veil. It was my aunt’s when she married my uncle thirty years ago. He passed away suddenly the March before the wedding so it was a special way to have him there with us.

My something blue was the inside of a black clutch my mom got me to carry my lipstick, my maternal grandpa’s hanky with his initial, + a few other necessities.

For good memories, I had all my bridesmaids, my mom, my mother-in-law, + my step-mom initial the bottom of my shoes. 

For good luck, a “sixpence” was taped under my shoe, a tradition said to bring prosperity and suggested by my maid of honor.

I wrapped a piece of lace from my mom’s wedding dress around my bouquet.

When I think back on the day, I remember the look in Doug’s eyes when we said our vows, having fun with my favorite women getting ready that morning, the twinkle lights + smiling faces when we were announced in the tent, and the dance floor being packed with love. 💛

You can see more from our wedding planning here anperuse our #meetthecovals feed.

Photography: Hello Love Photography (all photos here)
Venue: The Estate at Moraine Farm in Beverly, MA
Dress: Liancarlo via L'elite Bridal 
Bridesmaids Dresses: each chose their own black dress
Florist: Wild Folk Studio
Make up: Kerri Herlihy
Hair: Kevin Hadfield
Invitation and Table Numbers: original painting by a friend, Stephanie Beach | printed by Smock Paper via Gus & Ruby Letterpress
Calligraphy: Posh + Prep
Logo design: Brenna Donovan
Catering: Fireside Catering
Rentals: Peterson Party Center
Cake: Montilio’s
DJ: Beat Train Productions
Other: custom corn-holecustom cake topper, personalized wooden chair signs, custom printed sunglasses