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    How to Spend A Weekend in Butler County, Ohio: Day 1

    When the Butler County Tourism Bureau reached out to me about planning a trip, I jumped at the chance to explore the area that sits about 18 miles north of my hometown (Cincinnati, for those of you who were wondering). Sure, I had heard of Butler County before, but as someone who grew up in Cincinnati, I was a little ashamed to admit I didn’t know much about it.

    For starters, did you know Butler County is home to the nation’s only Donut Trail? That’s right. A donut trail. And that trail includes 12 delicious stops along the way. It also attracts more than 5,500 visitors from 40 states. People love their donuts.

    But donuts aside, Butler County truly has something for everyone.  Whether you’re a lover of antiques, global cuisines or family fun, you will find an activity you’ll love in Butler County.

    And if you’re not sure where to start, here’s a quick overview of how to spend your first day:

    Grab a bite to eat at Dai Trang Bistro

    Fritz and I were starving after our drive from Columbus, so we made a pit stop at Dai Trang Bistro in West Chester. This place is like a hidden gem and I wish I would have known about it when I lived in Cincinnati. The menu is a variety of Filipino, Vietnamese, and Korean, and if you’re an Asian food lover like me, you’re bound to find something delicious.

    Wander around the West Chester Antique Center

    After filling up on delicious food, make your way to the West Chester Antique Center. This antique warehouse is one of the largest antique centers in Ohio. You could easily spend hours roaming the aisles. I picked up an antique dresser for our guest room and I love how it adds a bit of character to the space. Also, I couldn’t have beat the $50 price tag if I tried. This place is seriously amazing!

    Sample products from around the globe at Jungle Jim’s International Market

    I was so excited to see Jungle Jim’s on our itinerary. Jungle Jim’s was the place my parents took me to as a special treat growing up. It houses hundreds of thousands of products from over 70 countries, so you can literally find anything and everything, from every corner of the globe. As far as grocery stores go, Jungle Jims is a destination. And it’s one you will be happy you visited.

    Roam the aisles at the Ohio Valley Antique Mall

    Because one antique store is never enough. This 85,000 sq. ft. facility is home to more than 550 dealers. So as far as options go, there are plenty. They offer an array of one-of-a-kind antiques, collectibles, books, furniture, vintage clothing (including the most amazing 1960s coat I purchased. More on that soon!) and accessories. It was also voted one of the top 10 best places to shop in Cincinnati by USA Today. Not that I’m surprised.

    Dine at Troy’s Cafe

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    Head to Troy’s Cafe for dinner. This quaint little cafe is the perfect spot for a casual, but intimate dinner date. It’s cozy, and the food did not disappoint.

    Pick Up a Sweet Treat at The Cone

    If donuts don’t strike your fancy, then chances are ice cream will. The Cone is the premier destination in the summer, so while you can expect long lines, it’s well worth the wait. I ordered the classic soft serve and Fritz opted for the strawberry milkshake which he quickly finished and claimed it was the best he’s ever have.

     

    And that’s a wrap on day 1! Stay tuned for a jam-packed day 2.

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    Travel

    Natalie Was Here: Asheville, North Carolina

    The last time I was in Asheville, I was in the sixth grade on summer vacation with my family. I got a bad case of food poisoning at a Mexican restaurant and then proceeded to accidentally delete all of the photos from our day trip to the Biltmore. The photos that were supposed to be on the Christmas card that year. I don’t think my parents have forgiven me.

    Luckily, this trip was a little different.

    My friend Lauren organized a small photography retreat. I jumped at the chance to go to something like this. So me and five other wedding and portrait photographers packed our bags and drove down south for the long weekend. When you travel with other photographers, you’re bound to take photos of anything and everything without getting an ounce of judgement.

    Planning to do this more often…

    WHERE WE STAYED

    The cutest Airbnb of all time. It’s bright, inviting, smells like cinnamon and even has an adorable little swing in the living room. I really can’t say enough good things about it. Nestled in West Asheville, this little house is perfect for a weekend getaway. It sleeps up to six people. Book your stay here!

    WHERE WE ATE

    We made breakfast, lunch and dinner at the house the majority of the time we were there. But when we did decide to venture out to restaurants, we went to:

    Farm Burger

    We dropped our bags off at the Airbnb and went straight to Farm Burger. After seven hours of driving, it was just what we all needed. Farm Burger sources their beef from grassfed cows, and that means no growth hormones or antibiotics — something we can all feel good about. They get their ingredients from local farms, so the menu changes with the seasons. It’s fresh, delicious and the perfect place to grab a quick bite.

    Bonfire Barbeque

    After a long evening of shooting, we were all exhausted and starving. Bonfire Barbeque hit the spot. Their variety of sauces can’t be beat, and the mac n’ cheese is out of this world.

    Gan Shan West 

    I’m obsessed with Asian cuisine. I could literally eat ramen and sushi and noodles every day and never get bored. So, when we decided to go to Gan Shan, I was all in. I ordered the veggie ramen and it didn’t disappoint. Also, the palm print wallpaper is definitely Insta-worthy.

    The Owl

    This adorable little coffee shop and bakery was recommended to us by our Airbnb host. They claim to use high quality, whole ingredients, sourced from places close to Asheville, including local farmers’ markets and their own back yards. If you go there, order the Lavender Latte and grab a table out back. Oh, and say hi to Elaine. She’s amazing.

    The Owl Bakery | Asheville, North Carolina | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

     

    WHERE WE EXPLORED

    Max Patch | Asheville, North Carolina | Natalie Was Here

    Max Patch

    If you’re into hiking, Max Patch is one of the most popular hiking spots on the Appalachian Trail. And for good reason. It’s grassy, covered in wildflowers and is a perfect spot to watch the sun set.

    Looking Glass Falls

    The 60-ft falls are one of the most popular falls in Western North Carolina. Parking can be somewhat limited, but it is well worth the trip.


    Have you been to Asheville before? If so, what are some of your favorite spots?

     

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    Travel

    Small Business Spotlight: ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry

    I’ve always had a passion for supporting small businesses. One of my goals for this space is to highlight other small-business owners are doing amazing things in Columbus, Ohio and beyond. Today, we’re kicking things off with ONE SIX FIVE.

    Kaleigh Shrigley and Claire Lowe met while working together at a retail store. They launched ONE SIX FIVE in 2014. I had the chance to swing by their brick-and-mortar location in Clintonville last month. It had been on my list of places to visit for awhile, and I was so happy to finally make the trip.

    The shop is bright and inviting and the pieces are one-of-a-kind, just like Kaleigh and Claire. All of their jewelry is hand-made, and if you’re a fan of unique pieces like I am, you will love the selection and quality of their designs.

    Oh, and that reminds me…you’ll probably hear “Where did you get that?” a lot when wearing their jewelry. You’ve been warned.

    Aside from their amazing jewelry, ONE SIX FIVE also features candles, body oils, ceramics and cheeky greeting cards. What I love most about ONE SIX FIVE is that all of the items you’ll find there are made by independent artists, here in the USA and abroad.

    Take a peek inside ONE SIX FIVE…

    ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry | Columbus, Ohio | Natalie Was Here

    ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry | Columbus, Ohio | Natalie Was Here

    ONE SIX FIVE Jewelry | Columbus, Ohio | Natalie Was Here

    Thank you to the ladies of ONE SIX FIVE for inviting me into the shop. I can’t wait to visit again. If you like what you see, be sure to show them some love! In the meantime, keep up with them on Facebook and Instagram

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    Travel

    Natalie Was Here: Buckeye Lake Winery

    Wine by the water? Yes, please. When you live in Ohio and have to deal with the glorious Midwestern humidity, few things top that combo. Last night, Fritz and I visited his parents, who live on Buckeye Lake, and took their boat to Buckeye Lake Winery for dinner.

    Because I don’t know if you knew this (I didn’t!), but June is Ohio Wine Month. And I’m always up for celebrating important holidays — especially when they’re month-long holidays.

    Buckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    We sat at a table under a big orange umbrella, took in the views as the sun set and the clouds rolled in, and sipped on two of their popular blends — Sweet Lake View and Lake View Red. The food was amazing, the wine was good and the company was even better. If you live in Columbus, I’d definitely recommend driving East to Buckeye Lake Winery. It’s a hidden gem. Buckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Buckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Buckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Buckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle BlogBuckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Buckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle BlogBuckeye Lake Winery | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Oh, hi, delicious flat bread. This one came topped with figs, gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions. It was beyond delicious and was perfect as an entree, but it would be great to share, too. I love how it paired with both wines.   

    Thank you so much to The Ohio Grape Industries Committee (OGIC) for sponsoring this post. Fun fact: did you know Ohio is the 8th largest wine producer in the U.S.? Today, 268 wineries call Ohio home! Pretty cool, right?

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    Travel

    Annie’s Bachelorette Party in San Francisco + Sonoma

    I flew out to San Francisco a couple weeks back to celebrate my friend Annie’s last month as a single lady. I had been looking forward to the trip for months and it was everything I hoped it would be and more. San Francisco is my favorite city in the entire world, and I don’t know if it was the abundance of wine or my pent up excitement, but it was more beautiful than ever.

    We experienced a city-wide black out Friday, but that didn’t slow us down. We grabbed some blankets and enjoyed a picnic on Annie’s roof, walked down to Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch, and packed our things and drove to Sonoma. It was the perfect way to celebrate one of my best friends and this next step in her life, and I loved the chance to meet all of her closest friends. Everyone was so nice and welcoming.

    Scroll below to see some of my favorite pictures from the trip!

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    Travel

    Natalie Was Here: Black Bean Deli in Orlando, FL

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    I love discovering local spots whenever I travel. One spot in particular is Black Bean Deli (affectionately referred to as BBD), a Cuban restaurant located in Orlando, Florida. It’s the cutest little space that feels more like a coffee shop with its minimalist vibe. If you follow my blog, you might remember I was in Florida recently for work. If you don’t follow my blog and just so happened to stumble upon this post, guess what? I was in Florida recently for work. And it was great!

    My friend Sydney lives in Orlando, so we met up at different coffee shops while I was in town (hello to my other fave, New General). Sydney swears by BBD, and I take locals’ opinions very seriously. Like, very seriously.

    I can definitely see where she’s coming from, though. Black Bean Deli has been around for over 15 years. And when it comes to Cuban food, they get it right. I snacked on one of their homemade empanadas, and I easily could have devoured two (or three) more.
    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Also, if you’re a coffee addict like me, I’ll let you in on a little secret — the Cuban iced coffee is THE BOMB. So deliciously rich, but not overly sweet. When you’re in the hot Florida sun, an iced coffee is a must. Gotta stay hydrated caffeinated.
    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Sup, Syd! Remember her?

    Black Bean Deli in Winter Park, FL | Natalie Was Here | Lifestyle Blog

    Alright, BBD. It’s been real, and I hope to be back again soon. If you find yourself in Orlando, be sure to add this place to your list. Oh, and order the empanadas. You won’t be disappointed.

    GET THE BLACK BEAN DELI VIBE AT HOME

     

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    Fashion, Travel

    Weekdays at New General

    Nothing beats working from a coffee shop. It’s not something I get to do often, but this week was a different story. I was in Orlando Sunday through Thursday afternoon for my job, and while I was there, I looked for every opportunity in the world to work outside (the weather was amazing). Coffee shops all day, every day.

    One of my newly discovered favorites is New General in Winter Park. It’s the cutest, Insta-worthy spot. And if you’ve heard of Kinfolk Magazine, this place is basically Kinfolk IRL. Not only do they serve up the most beautiful toast you’ve ever seen (see below), but they also have a wide selection of minimalist-approved home goods, clothing, greeting cards and cute gifts. It’s a dream.

    My friend Sydney (New General regular, talented photographer and all around cool person) met me there and we both used the time to knock out items on our to-do lists, snap a few pics and sip on some coffee.

    Until next time, FL. <3


    SHOP THE POST

    I hope you’re having a great week! Thanks for stopping by :)

    While you’re here, you might also like…

    How to build your brand on Instagram with Sydney Norberg | Weekend Mornings at Stauf’s Coffee Roasters

     

    Photography by Sydney Marie Photography

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