A Weekend in Asheville 

This year for Brandon and I’s birthdays (our birthdays are only 12 days apart) we decided to go on a birthday trip rather than get each other gifts! The destination of choice – Asheville, North Carolina.

We’ve heard so many great things about Asheville since we moved to Raleigh and have been dying to check it out ourselves. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

Friday – Candlelight Tour at the Biltmore

As soon as we got into Asheville, we dropped our bags off at the hotel and headed straight for the Biltmore! Included in the price of our tickets was a complimentary wine tasting. Since we arrived about 2 hours ahead of our scheduled candlelight tour, we decided to spend that time at Antler Hill Winery. Wine not? 😉

I did not have big expectations for the complimentary wine tasting. In all honesty, I thought they would have us pick 2-3 wines to try, and that’s that. Boy, was I wrong! We ended up sampling 10 wines and 1 port. They were all so good (though I can’t say I’ve ever actually hated any wine, but that’s neither here nor there). The best in our opinion was the Limited Release Malbec & Merlot. So, of course, we bought a bottle of each 🙂

One other gem we discovered while at Antler Hill Winery that I cannot go without mentioning is the Jack and the Bean Dip. This stuff is pure gold, folks! They had a bowl of the dip sitting out on the table to sample with pretzels, and I’m pretty sure Brandon and I put back half of the bowl ourselves. We tried to play it cool, but I’m sure everyone thought we were vultures by the way we were circling the table for more.

After our wine tasting, we headed to the main house. One of the best moments is seeing the mansion for the first time. I have seen pictures and heard how massive this place is, but it does not compare until you see it in person.

The house itself is nothing short of incredible. Add in the Christmas decorations, the place is utterly breathtaking. With 250 rooms it’s hard to pick a favorite, but the library and the banquet hall definitely come in at the top of my list. Oh, what I would give to attend a dinner party in that banquet hall.

Saturday – Biltmore Grounds Tour & Downtown Asheville

Saturday we headed back to the Biltmore Estate and explored the rest of the grounds. Since it was dark at the time of our tour (PS – is it pronounced 2er or tore?  Brandon and I had a great debate about this. Even asked fellow snapchatters and the results were split!) on Friday night we did not get a chance to see the views from the house.  Even though it was mid-December, the views were still incredible. I can only imagine what it’s like in the spring and summer when everything is full of color. I will definitely be going back to see it first hand.

After we had done our self-guided tour around the rest of the grounds at the Biltmore House, we headed back towards Antler Hill Village & Winery to buy our favorite wine from our tasting the day before. When we got there,  the workers begged and pleaded us to do another complimentary wine tasting (I swear!). It was a tough sell, but we finally gave in.

That night we explored downtown Asheville. We walked around and explored a lot of the unique shops and made our first stop at Sky Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. Sky bar is such a unique place. It’s essentially a bar on a three tier fire escape. We entered through the front of the historic Flatiron building, rang a bell of a 90-year-old elevator and then rode up to top floor with the elevator attendant and were escorted out to the fire-escape. It was the perfect spot to start out our night in downtown.

Our next stop, Wicked Weed Brewery. This was one of Brandon’s favorite stops of the weekend. His favorite beer? Pernicious IPA. We loved the atmosphere at Wicked Weed, so we decided to stay for dinner rather than venturing back out into the cold to go to a different place.  All the food was fantastic! The sweet potato fries and the nachos were a toss up for the prestigious award of Kylee’s favorite.

Sunday – Omni Grove Park Inn

On Sunday before heading back to Raleigh, we made a stop at the Omni Grove Park Inn. I loved everything about this place. From the little Christmas hut in the lobby serving the most impressive glasses of hot chocolate I have ever seen to the stunning views, to the incredibly detailed gingerbread houses they had displayed throughout the hotel. Seriously, you have to see these gingerbread houses. I mean come on! What type of job do you think “Gingie the Gingerbread man” has to afford a house like that?

Overall it was a great weekend filled with great views, beer, wine and the best company. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off our 26th year.

Ky

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A Letter to a Random Girl on Instagram

Naturally, Ari

Dear Stranger,

I saw what you said.

“u know when all ur friends have there bellys out and your the chunky one in the middle, literally me :(“

If you don’t remember when or where you said this, I’ll help remind you. A few days ago, you posted a comment on a photo that a well-known company shared. The company shared a picture of 15 girls wearing their latest workout clothing line. These girls were ending a weekend of a lifetime, making sure to thank this company for believing in their community and for sponsoring this incredible weekend. These 15 girls were my friends and myself. The chunky one in the middle was literally ME.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that reading your comment didn’t hurt. I’m not going to act like I didn’t read it over and over again, crying harder each time. I’m not going to lie to…

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DIY Fall Chalkboard Frame

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After loving how my DIY Fall Rake Door Hanger turned out a few weeks back, I was inspired to try another alternative wreath to decorate the house. What I love most about this project is that it is so versatile. I’m not restricted to hanging it on my door. I can hang it in the foyer or even set it on a plate easel to display it on a table. Since I already have my Rake Door Hanger on our front door, I decided to set my Fall Chalkboard Frame on a plate easel and display it in our kitchen. I also love that I can change out the message on the board for different occasions.

Ready to make one for yourself?

What You’ll Need:

  • Chalkboard frame
  • Chalk
  • Fall berry garland
  • Fall accents
  • Hot glue gun

How It’s Made:

  1. Unwrap your berry garland and begin to wrap it around the Chalkboard frame.
  2. Adjust the branches to your liking.
  3. Secure the berry garland to the frame with the hot glue gun.
  4. Using the hot glue gun, glue on any accent pieces.
  5. Write your message in chalk.
  6. Hang!

DIY not your thing?  Rather have it shipped to your door? Check out the byky Etsy shop to custom order this Fall Chalkboard Frame and other fall items!

Ky

Grilled Sweet Potato Planks Recipe

For most people, Fall means pumpkin everything. For me, Fall means sweet potato everything! I mean don’t get me wrong, I love me a good pumpkin roll or pumpkin cider but sweet potatoes are what really does it for me. This Fall I will be experimenting with sweet potatoes to find my favorite recipe. First on the list, my go-to side when grilling out – Grilled Sweet Potato Planks.

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What You’ll Need:

  • 2-3 sweet potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How It’s Made:

  1. Carefully, cut sweet potatoes vertically. Each plank should be about 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Add sweet potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add olive oil and seasonings (to taste).
  4. Grill sweet potatoes on the bottom rack of the grill for 15 mins or until sweet potatoes are soft.
  5. Serve.

Want to add this recipe to your recipe book? Download the recipe card here.

Stay tuned for more sweet potato recipes coming your way soon!

– Ky –

DIY Fall Rake Door Hanger

Fall is in the air, and I have loved every second of it! Especially decorating the house. Pumpkins, apples, leaves, shades of red, yellow, orange, brown and green, the possibilities are endless. But the season is not. Fall always seems to leave us too quickly. Embrace Fall while it is here by decorating your home with a DIY Rake Door Hanger.

What You’ll Need:

  • Rake
  • Fake flowers of your choice
  • Burlap
  • Twine
  • Floral wire
  • Hand saw

How It’s Made:

  1. Using a hand saw, carefully cut the handle of the rake, leaving about 2 inches of the handle that is closest to the head of the rake.
  2. Layout your floral arrangement next to your rake.
  3. Cut 3-inch pieces of floral wire to use to secure your floral decor to the rake.
  4. Secure the floral wire to your flower, leaf, etc.
  5. One at a time lay each piece of floral decor on the front of your rake. Pull the floral wire through the back of the rake and secure by twisting or knotting.
  6. Continue this process until you have your desired look on the rake.
  7. Cut about an 8-inch piece of burlap.
  8. Tie a bow using the burlap at the bottom of the wire rake. Use twine to secure the center of your bow and tie to the bottom of the rake. Click here for instructions on how to tie a burlap bow.
  9. Hang your new rake decor on your door. I used a 3M hook and floral wire to hang mine.

DIY not your thing?  Rather have it shipped to your door? Check out the byky Etsy shop to custom order this door hanger and other fall items!

– Ky –

Classic Acai Bowl Recipe

Even though we are a couple of weeks into September which means Fall is upon us, I am not ready to accept that Summer is over. Especially because I am not ready to give up my favorite summer food – acai bowls. I had my first acai bowl when I lived in Cleveland, Ohio at Restore Cold Pressed. If you live in the greater Cleveland area and have not been there yet, I highly recommend you go. Their juice and acai bowls are amazing!! I’m drooling just thinking about them.

Being new to Raleigh, I have not yet found my go to juice bar that has acai bowls. I’m still on the look out though (suggestions welcomed). In the meantime, I have resorted to making my own.
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Classic Acai Bowl

What You’ll Need:
Takes 5 minutes, serves 1 person.

  • 2 packets of Sambazon frozen acai – I typically buy mine from Earth Fare, but I have also seen them at Whole Foods.
  • 1/4 cup (or less if you like it thicker) unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds – I always add them into my mix but you can add them on top too!
  • 1 frozen banana
  • fresh berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc. your choice)
  • 1/4 cup granola of your choice (note: I used homemade granola)
  • 2 tbsps almond butter

How It’s Made:

  1. Run acai packets under hot water for 5 seconds.
  2. Empty both acai packets in a blender.
  3. Add 1 frozen banana to the blender.
  4. Add 1/4 cup (or less) of almond milk to the blender.
    1. I like mine thicker, so I add less almond milk at first and then continue to add little by little until it’s at my deserved thickness, so it does not get too thin.
  5. Add 1 tbsp of chia seeds to the blender.
  6. Blend ingredients together until smooth.
  7. Pour acai mixture into a bowl.
  8. Top with granola, fresh berries, and almond butter. Other topping suggestions – fresh banana, coconut flakes, nuts, and peanut butter.

Give it a try and let me know what toppings you added to your bowl in the comments!

Want to add this recipe to your recipe book? Download the recipe card here.

Ky

How to Get Designer Jewelry Delivered To Your Door Every Month

New designer jewelry delivered to your door every month? It’s a girls dream! At least it’s this girls dream. For me, an outfit is not complete without a few great accessories, so when I heard about Rocksbox, a monthly subscription program that gives you unlimited access to rent designer jewelry, I had to check it out. The subscription box business model is pretty simple. Once you become a member of Rocksbox, you set up a profile on the website and take a quick style survey to help the stylists get to know your style.  Once your survey is complete your stylist will send you your first Rocksbox! Each box consists of 3 pieces of designer jewelry from designers such as Kendra Scott, Loren Hope, Wanderlust + Co, and much more. You can keep the pieces as long as you would like. When you are ready for new pieces, just send the pieces back in the return packaging they provide you and wait patiently until your next box arrives! As a Christmas baby who is used to only getting gifts in the month of December, I love getting to open my Rocksbox every month to something new.
Kendra Scott Rayne Necklace in Slate with a black dress

Kendra Scott Rayne Necklace in Slate

One of my favorite things about Rocksbox is the ability to customize your box for an upcoming event. A few months ago I was headed to a bachelorette party and needed to wear black and gold. The gold jewelry I own did not go great with the dress I was planning to wear. So I logged into my Rocksbox account, left a note for my stylist letting her know that I had a bachelorette party where I would be wearing a black dress so needed some gold jewelry to go with it. In my next box, I got 3 amazing gold pieces!

One of my favorite pieces, so much so that I decided to keep it, I received for the bachelorette party was the Kendra Scott Rayne Necklace in Slate. It was exactly what I was looking for to accent my black dress! The bachelorette party was just the start of the  events that were on my calendar for summer. With 6 weddings, I turned to Rocksbox to help me add some bling to my outfits.
If your outfit is not complete until you accessorize, I highly recommend Rocksbox! Use the code KYLEEBFF11 when you sign up and you will receive a free month trial. Still not sure, check out a few of my favorite designer pieces I have received so far!
Ky

 

Happy Birthday, Byky graphic

1 Year!

On this day one year ago, I sat in my downtown Cleveland apartment and launched byky! When I started, I wasn’t sure what I was doing. All I knew was that I was finally listening to that voice in the back of mind that kept telling me to start a blog. I put it off for so long because I was nervous. What would I write? Would people read my blog? So many questions and uncertainties. As I sit here reflecting on that day one year ago, I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone.

This past year has been a growth year for me. I became a wife, launched a blog, moved to a new state, started a new job, and made new friends.  At first, all the change was tough. But as tough as it was at times, this year has taught me a lot about myself. I feel like I finally came into my own.

To celebrate one year of lots of growth, I was only appropriate that byky grow with me. Welcome to the newly designed byky! I can’t wait to continue to grow byky and sharing my passions in life with you all! As always, thank you for the support.

Ky

 

Raleigh Recap

After a short hiatus, I’m back with an update on where I have been for the last few months. Short answer, I’ve been exploring a new state! At the start of 2016 Brandon and I packed up a truck and headed south to our new home in Raleigh, North Carolina. North Carolina has always been a dream of ours; both individually and together as a couple. So when the opportunity presented itself, we knew it was something we had to do.

It’s taken us some time but we are finally starting to feel settled in.  Now that we are, I finally feel like I can get back into the swing of everything byky and get you all up to speed on what we’ve been up to in Raleigh over the past few months.

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Our new place in North Carolina.

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Brandon’s new car!

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The family came to visit for Easter!

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Hosted Easter brunch at the new place!

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Brooke and Brandon during our hike through Umstead State Park!

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Dine & recline theater is our new favorite rainy weekend spot.

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Enjoying the back patio, sunset, wine and my amazing visitors, Kelsey & Maria!

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Kelsey, Maria and I at Raleigh Beer Garden in downtown Raleigh.

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June marked the resurrection of surprise monthly date nights! Stay tuned for details from each surprise date in Raleigh.

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Mid-morning runs in this heat are not recommended! These Ohioans are not used to it being 90 degrees by 10:00 am!

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Spent the day on top of houseboats and in the water at Falls Lake to escape the 100-degree heat!

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Having a community pool is the best! You’ll find us here each free weekend this summer!

It’s been a fun adventure so far! So stayed tuned to see more updates as Brandon and I continue to find what Raleigh has to offer 🙂

Ky

Crockpot Shredded Salsa Chicken Recipe

byky_Salsa_Chicken

I have to say; this is one of the easiest meals I have ever made. If you have a crockpot, a few chicken breasts and a can of salsa, you are all set. This salsa chicken recipe has become my go-to when I want a good healthy meal, but I don’t feel like cooking. The chicken is juicy, has a ton of flavor and takes very little time to prepare. Next time you want a good meal but do not feel like spending the time to whip something up, pull out your crockpot and try out this Salsa Chicken recipe.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can of salsa of your choosing (I usually use Newman’s Own Medium Chunky Salsa)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

How It’s Made:

  • Lightly grease the crockpot with cooking spray.
  • Place chicken breasts into the crockpot.
  • Pour the entire jar of salsa into the crockpot.
  • Mix up the salsa so that the chicken is completely coated.
  • Add in salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
  • Use a fork to shred the chicken (it should shred easily).

Can’t think of a side to accompany the salsa chicken? Try stuffing a sweet potato with the chicken. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Enjoy!

Ky