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January 02, 2017

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7 Best Places to Drink Hot Cocoa in the U.S.

When winter comes, all you want to do is hunker down and warm up. And what better way to do so than with a cup of hot cocoa? Rich, sweet, and fragrant, hot chocolate never fails to make you nostalgic with every sip. 

Luckily, you need not look far for your hot cocoa fix. If you live anywhere near the cities below (or even if you don't), why not try their unique takes on this classic beverage?      

1. Cacao: Atlanta

Aztec aphrodisiac, anyone? At Cacao, you can grab this sexy brew infused with 6 chilies and topped with homemade marshmallows. You can also try other fun flavors like Ginger Pink Peppercorn, Chulucanas Cranberry, and Almond with Hawaiian Sea Salt. If you'd rather sip your Cacao cup at home, they also sell bags of cocoa mix for your convenience.  

2. City Bakery: New York City

Did you know that the best time to visit City Bakery is in February? That's when they hold their annual Hot Chocolate Festival – you can try out a different hot cocoa flavor every day of the month. Even if you can't drop by in February, no worries: City Bakery's melted chocolate bars topped with homemade marshmallows are a must-try every time!

3. Compartes Chocolatier: Los Angeles

Since its inception over 60 years ago, Compartes Chocolatier has catered to the cocoa cravings of big names like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. One of their signature drinks is made of 100% organic cinnamon and Tahitian vanilla beans, so you can have a taste of Hollywood glamour in a cup.  

4. French Broad Chocolates: Asheville, North Carolina

In this North Carolina shop, liquid truffles rule. Their Nibble + Sip collection is also to die for, with delectable flavors like Cacao Nibs, Chocolate Drops, and Toffee. All their products are made from local, organic ingredients, guaranteeing freshness in every cup.  

5. Kakawa Chocolate House: Santa Fe

True to its name (which means "cacao" in Olmec), Kakawa's signature drinks are inspired by pre-Columbian cultures. Their "elixirs" have a distinctly rich and bold character to them, like the 1692 French Lavender, Chocolate Chai, and Havana Rum. If you take a sip of their Tzul ("dog") drink, Kakawa will donate the proceeds to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter in New Mexico. 

6. Mindy's Hot Chocolate: Chicago

Owned by chef Mindy Segal, Mindy's serves an eclectic menu of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic hot chocolate. Savor a rich cup of milk chocolate, caramel, and cocoa ganache or experiment with drinks like the "Mexican" (mixed with cinnamon and cayenne) or hot buttered rum. No matter your preference, it'll be topped with a large, fluffy, homemade marshmallow. 

7. XOCO: Chicago

Although XOCO isn't a chocolate shop per se, their authentic Mexican hot cocoa is a must-try. Using freshly ground chocolate and a traditional Mexican recipe, XOCO's baristas whip up a creamy, foamy concoction you can use as a dip for traditional specialties like churros.

 

As a winter drink, hot cocoa is hard to beat. Even if you can make this drink at home, there's nothing like going out and indulging yourself on a chilly day. Drop by the shops above and you might just find your new favorite winter hangout!

 

Want more winter goodies? Subscribe to get your pack!

November 27, 2016

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Sweet Indulgences Direct from Tennessee’s Countryside

1. Liquid Goat’s Milk Hand Wash from Little Seed Farm

If you’re looking for farm-fresh soaps and skin care products crafted with sustainability in mind, look no further than Little Seed Farm. Created in 2012 by two former New York City urban dwellers, Little Seed Farm grew from an appreciation for the beauty of the land and a desire to bring more natural products to customers.

 

The Liquid Goat’s Milk Hand Wash is your answer if you’ve struggled with dryness from traditional hand soaps and cleansers. This offering from LSF gives your skin a hand-holding softness thanks to its formulation with rich shea butter, moisturizing olive oil, and soothing goat’s milk.

2. Marshmallow Box from The Bang Candy Company

The Bang Candy Company brings old-fashioned candy making back to its small town roots in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Founder Sarah Souther’s passion for homemade marshmallows fueled her candy making ideas and creations.

 

You can give in to your cravings with the Small Marshmallow Box. Handmade and half-dipped in dark chocolate, your package of delightful sweetness comes wrapped with love and is sure to make you feel incredible this month. Each puff will last a month, but who can wait that long to eat them?!

3. “Rose Soaking After Midnight” Bath Salts from Music City Suds

Love country music? Why not find out if some of your most loved country tunes are represented by soapmaker Rachel Turner of Music City Suds? Her appreciation for her home state’s melodic identity led her to make music-inspired bath creations.

 

You can feel like a country music star when you experience the “Rose Soaking After Midnight” bath salts. Soothe your tired muscles and pamper your skin with essential oils, dried rose petals, and Dead Sea and Pacific Sea salts.

4. Organic Jerky from Sweet Meat Jerky

The proprietors of Sweet Meat Jerky began their business with a dream and a family recipe that had been passed down for generations. Creator George Livingston started his homegrown business in college and since then, has worked to expand his product base.

 

The company’s focus on simple ingredients and high-quality organic meats and flavorings allow its products to go beyond the typical jerky found in a convenience store. Try some of the sweet or spicy flavor combinations and see what all the fuss is about.    

5. Hand Crafted Soy Candles from Ful Candles

Candle maker Laura, who has worked on her pet project Ful Candles into the wee hours of the night after a long shift at her day job, has evolved the typical home candle.

 

Ful Candles burn more cleanly because they’re made from eco-friendly soy wax. They also smell incredible and add a peaceful edge to your home. With positive names like “Hopeful,” “Grateful,” and “Beautiful,” experience all the “feels” and the warm scents of fall with a Ful Candle.

 

 

If you can’t make a trip to see all the Volunteer State has to offer, we’ve got the goodies you need! This month, you can get the best of both worlds: luxury and the comfort of a home you never knew you had in sweet Tennessee.

 

 

It’s not too late! You can still get in on the goods. Subscribe now to get your own indulgent experience.

November 13, 2016

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Road Rules: Tips for Travel

It’s no surprise that we love sharing travel inspiration here at Hammock Pack! From summer getaway destinations to family-friendly vacation ideas, we’re passionate about highlighting the best cities and towns from coast to coast (and bringing those same destinations to your doorstep, of course).

As Thanksgiving nears, many Americans will flock to airports and fill the highways to be with family. No matter where you’re going, it never hurts to be prepared for the journey.

Today, we’re rounding up our top 6 tips for travel. Whether you’re heading for the beach or a long weekend at Grandma’s, you’ll be glad to have these creative and practical travel ideas in your back pocket.

1. Pack a book set in the place you’re visiting.

Whether it’s historical fiction, an autobiographical tale, or a guilty pleasure beach read, we love the idea of bringing along a book that takes place in your holiday destination. 

It’ll help you get even more excited about the city or town you’re visiting and you may even be able to check out some of the shops, restaurants, and attractions mentioned in your book. 

2. Travel with a list of all your hotels, and their addresses and phone numbers.

Navigating a new city can definitely be a challenge. Make it easier on yourself by writing down the names of all the hotels you’re staying at on your trip, along with their addresses and phone numbers. 

If you hop into a cab and the driver isn’t familiar with your hotel or if you need to ask a local for directions, having the exact address written down can ensure that you get the help you need quickly and easily. If you’re traveling internationally, have this information written down in the local language.

3. Sign up for free walking tours.

Maybe you’re not usually a tour person or perhaps the thought of trekking all over the city sounds like a drag – but trust us when we say that taking a free walking tour is one of the best ways to get to know a new city. 

These types of tours are designed to be super streamlined, allowing you to see all the major highlights as efficiently as possible. And since the guides are usually locals, you’ll have an insider perspective on everything you’re seeing. 

4. Write up a packing list well before you start packing.

Have you ever had a thought like, “I need to remember to bring my camera charger on my trip next week,” and then not remembered to bring your camera charger? 

Start a packing list in the weeks leading up to your next getaway and jot down every item that crosses your mind. That way, when it finally comes time to start packing, you’ll have a list of all the important items you might not remember at the last minute.

5. Keep your most important items in your carry-on.

While lost luggage wouldn’t exist in an ideal world, it’s something that can happen from time to time. 

Be prepared by packing all of your most important items like medication, expensive jewelry, and electronics in your carry-on so you won’t be thrown for a loop if your luggage goes missing for a day or two. It doesn’t hurt to keep a toothbrush and some deodorant in your carry-on, too, so you can freshen up on the go.

6. Start a travel journal.

Photographs are one of the best souvenirs you can have from any trip, but over the years, it can become more and more difficult to remember specific details. 

A travel journal allows you to write down your thoughts from moment-to-moment while on the move, and helps you remember specific details like the name of the hotel you stayed at or the name of that restaurant you really enjoyed. Plus, it’s so fun to re-read those old journals and refresh your memory of your favorite travel experiences.

 

No matter where you’re heading on your next trip, we recommend trying out at least one of these helpful tips to enhance your travel experience.

Interested in bringing a fun and unique getaway destination straight to your doorstep? It’s not too late to sign up for this month’s pack!

October 20, 2016

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America's Spookiest Towns Celebrate Halloween

October is upon us, and you know what that means: ghosts and ghouls roaming around and scaring the daylights out of everyone. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, there's no denying that Halloween is a fun day for people of all ages.

If you really want to get into the spirit (no pun intended) of the season, few places in the U.S. are better for spending All Hallow's Eve than these enchanting towns. 

Tour a historic battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Considering how the Civil War's bloodiest battle happened in Gettysburg, it's no surprise that the area is brimming with stories about the restless dead. To learn more about them, join one of the many Gettysburg ghost tours or visit centers of paranormal activity like Devil's Den and Sachs Covered Bridge. Be sure to keep a camera handy in case a ghost says hi! 

Visit a haunted mansion in New Orleans, Louisiana

Although New Orleans is best known for its sumptuous seafood and its Mardi Gras Festival, it also has its fair share of ghost stories. For example, there's the infamous LaLaurie Mansion, which is supposedly haunted by Lady LaLaurie and the slaves she brutally tortured and murdered. 

You also have the Le Petit Theatre, where the ghost of a man dressed in 19th century eveningwear can be seen. Even ordinary New Orleans homes aren't safe from visits by friends from the other side!   

Relive the witch trials at Salem, Massachusetts

It's hard to talk about Salem without mentioning the witch trials, and vice versa. Between 1692 and 1693, 20 people (14 of whom were women) were executed for allegedly practicing witchcraft in this now sleepy little town. 

Today, you can revisit that grisly era by getting into the 4-D Salem Time Machine or by playing a juror in the interactive play Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop. For more information on what to do in Salem during Halloween, check out their Haunted Happenings calendar.    

Go ghost hunting in Savannah, Georgia

Like New Orleans, Savannah is a seaport town with a checkered history. It's home to many haunted mansions, like the Sorrel Weed House, where you can go hunting for ghosts – complete with equipment! If you'd rather do something else, though, Savannah's got you covered with other sightseeing tours it has in excess.      

Cross “Emily's Bridge” in Stowe, Vermont

At first glance, the Gold Brook Bridge looks like an ordinary covered bridge. But don't let that fool you: It's also home to the ghost of an unfortunate woman named Emily. 

Depending on what version of the legend you hear, Emily either hung herself when her lover stood her up or fell off the bridge when she drove too fast toward the wedding of her unfaithful groom. Either way, be extra careful when crossing “Emily's Bridge,” lest the resident ghost take out her vengeance on you.

 

No matter where you spend your Halloween, pay close attention. You never know if you'll have a blink-and-you'll-miss-it encounter with a creature from the other world. 

 

In the meantime, hit “Subscribe” to get this month’s goodies from Tennessee and enjoy your Halloween!

October 11, 2016

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Bold Treasures from Big Texas

Texas is well known for its music culture, food and drinks, and the artisans who call the state home. If need a few ways to make your fall a little cozier, these Southern brands may have just what you're looking for. 

From handcrafted clothing accessories to healthy snacks, we've discovered 4 Texas-crafted items we can't wait to share with you. 

Z&Co. – Pumpkin Farmhouse Candle

McAllen-bred Z&Co. was established in 2005. Their home-fresh scents are inspired by eclectic, vintage finds and are made with premium soy wax and essential oils that deliver fragrances of pure antiquey bliss.

Bring the smells of fall inside with the Pumpkin Farmhouse Candle. This handcrafted 12 oz. soy candle is part of Z&Co.’s “The Farmhouse Collection” and is sure to spread gorgeous scents throughout your home. 

Moon Rivers Naturals – Soap

Located in beautiful Hawkins, Texas, Moon Rivers Naturals is a family-run company that focuses on organic ingredients that are pure and simple. The founding couple’s passion project are their unique-ingredient artisan soaps. 

The collection features 11 varieties to choose from. Each handcrafted soap is made with essential oils, natural moisturizers, and gentle cleansers; and all bars are hand-cut. Nourish your body guilt- and chemical-free.

EPIC – Pork Rinds

Husband and wife team Taylor and Katie discovered their passion for eating foods that are often touted as "what our paleolithic ancestors might have eaten" in trendy nutrition circles. After trying a variety of food plans, they discovered the paleo lifestyle and wanted nothing more than to help others live a healthy life. The solution was creating their EPIC Protein Bar.

If you're big on protein, the EPIC Bar's Bites Snack Collection may be just what you need. The company focuses on high quality meats, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruits raised in humane and sustainable ways. 

The snacks are available in flavors like turkey cranberry sage, maple bacon blueberry, salmon maple dill, and sesame chicken barbecue – just to name a few! With so many varied options, there's sure to be something available that charms your taste buds.

Bearded Brothers – Energy Bar

The Bearded Brothers began making energy bars in their own kitchens in 2011, selling them to friends and family before the business took off. Since their inception, the brothers’ bars specialize in fueling healthy, active pursuits with natural products and come in environmentally-friendly packaging. 

The yummy snacks come in flavorful varieties like blueberry vanilla, coconut mango, orange kale, ginger peach, macha chocolate, and raspberry lemon. Each bar is free of gluten and soy, certified organic, and covered in a compostable wrapper.

 

No matter what you're looking for, the Lonestar State is likely to have something you'll love. If you can't make it to Texas to explore these items, we can help you with that! Subscribe to Hammock Pack today to get this month's pack of goodies.

September 18, 2016

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A Lesson in "Dallitude"

"Dallitude", also known as “Dallas attitude,” has been around for a long time. The term itself often invokes a negative connotation to "outsiders," but Dallas natives don't let it get to them. Instead, they fully embrace their friendly, independent, bull-headed spirit. 

The seemingly-maligned city has experienced tremendous changes over the last decade with its bustling metropolis, vibrant nightlife, and some of the best food scenes in the world. Of course, we can't leave out sports! It's no wonder why "Big D" natives are so proud of their roots. 

No more waiting – let’s take a lesson in “Dallitude” together!

The Legendary Dallas Cowboys (and Girls)

There's no shortage of sporting events in Dallas. But this post would be a disappointment if we failed to mention the Dallas Cowboys. Not only are the Dallas Cowboys the most profitable sports team in the world, but they were also the first to introduce the NFL’s iconic cheerleaders. The Cowboy’s first cheerleaders represented a new era of entertainment and even have their own reality TV show

What’s more, without Dallas oil man, Lamar Hunt, former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, there'd be no Super Bowl. Can you imagine America without its biggest and most anticipated game of the year? We can't.

A Foodie Haven

It's probably not a surprise to hear that Dallas has some of the best barbecue. But the food scene in Dallas is beyond Tex-Mex and steakhouses. If you're a foodie, get ready to be dazed by the diverse selection of cuisine in the Big D. 

From the delicate tastes of Japanese fare to hearty Italian meals, from casual burger shops to swanky, contemporary American restaurants, this city makes sure you always go home with a happy, satisfyingly full belly. With such ample collections of eateries, it explains why Dallas people love not to cook. 

Last but not least, Dallas also introduced the world to the frozen margarita machine. Check out the restaurant that made them famous – have a margarita (frozen or on the rocks!) from Mariano’s Hacienda.

A Culture of Excess

Dallas is all about "go big or go home" and the bigger, the better. Indeed, Dallas natives overdo everything (didn't we just talk about the abundant food scene earlier?). The city is rolling with glitz and glamour, and secures the #2 spot on the chart for the highest population of billionaire denizens (only second to New York City).   

The money aspect aside, Dallas has the largest urban arts district in the U.S. You'll be amazed by its number of fine art and science museums, showcasing impressive collections with ages spanning thousands of years. However, if you're not “in” to walking around and contemplating museum exhibits, take some time to chill over drinks while listening to good jazz and blues. Head to Deep Ellum for some great ales and lagers, complete with a dose of exciting nightlife entertainment. 

There’s so much about Dallas that never fails to intrigue the curiosity and interest of both natives and outsiders. We hope this post has given you a fresh look at “Dallitude” and inspired you to visit the city that deservingly runs the Lone Star State.         

 

This month’s special Hammock Pack will come from Texas. Don’t miss out – subscribe now to receive all the goodies from this charming state.    

 

September 05, 2016

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Delectable Treats from Little Massachusetts

As summer swings to an end and autumn begins to make its mark, you might be feeling a little disappointed about the shorter days and cooler temperatures. Don’t fret! This month, we’ve got some fresh finds to keep your spirits up. 

We’re confident you’ll discover something to tickle your fancy. Take a look at these 5 items we’ve rounded up from The Bay State – all just for you!

Plum Island Soap Company – Ocean Mist Shower Gel

Michele Diodati founded Plum Island Soap Company in 1999 after finding a hobby that she adored. Determined to churn out all-natural body products without chemicals or harmful ingredients, she developed and perfected her own recipes in her Plum Island, Massachusetts, kitchen. One of her first creations was a lotion to cure a diaper rash for her own child. 

Plum Island Soap Company goodies are made daily at a modest shop on – you guessed it – Plum Island, a Massachusetts northern barrier island. Customers can stop in and see small batches of goodness made with the company’s main ingredient: love.

Next time you need to feel refreshed, hop in the bath or shower with this incredible shower gel from Plum Island Soap Company. Infused with spearmint and peppermint oils, this body wash is sure to revitalize your senses and soothe sore muscles. Need something to wake you up on an early morning? Plum Island’s Ocean Mist Shower Gel is sure to get you going with its bright scent. 

Lark Fine Foods – Cookies

Essex-born Lark Fine Foods started as a family business in 2008 and today, continues to whip up “cookies for grown-ups” that are defined by their rich, robust, better-than-homemade tastes. Everything about Lark’s cookies are all-natural and they make for deliciously grown-up snacks suitable for all ages (though it will be hard to share!).

In their own words, Lark Fine Foods cookies are “long in flavor and low in sugar.” Who could ask for more? Designed as “grown-up cookies” and intended for refined palates, Lark cookies are free of preservatives and use the freshest, finest ingredients to pack a big punch of flavor into their small batches of snacks. If you need a lightly-sweetened crunch, you’ve found your match in Lark Fine Foods cookies.

Equal Exchange – Tea

Equal Exchange has been working to further true fair-trade relationships that are beneficial to consumers and producers alike. Their partnerships with farmers from around the world continue to lead us all to a better world.

Equal Exchange offers a number of satisfying teas to suit any taste. Equal Exchange teas are cultivated in India, Sri Lanka, and South Africa by local farmers and their families. Take your pick of their green, herbal, and black tea loose leaf options or get yourself some sachets to steep in your steaming hot mug.

McCreas Candies – Cape Cod Sea Salt Caramel

Jason McCrea serves as the founder and “chief caramel scientist” at McCrea’s Candies. With an extensive background in chemistry and a love for natural ingredients, the results of Jason’s experiments were beautifully-crafted artisan yummies. McCrea’s caramel creations aren’t just a product of Jason’s making – he gives equal credit to his team. 

Sabotage your sugar cravings with a piece of McCrea’s Cape Cod Sea Salt Caramel. Each morsel is lightly seasoned with New England coastal sea salt. It’s the perfect treat for any self-professed sweet tooth.

Smudge Ink- Greeting Card

Situated right on the banks of the Boston Harbor, this stationery company has been creating bright, beautiful cards since 2002. Smudge Ink has one main goal and that's to make people happy and their extensive line of fun, colorful cards does just that. Send your card to someone special in your life and make them smile.

 

We’re fairly certain that our list this month will have you aching for a quick trip to this tiny state on the East coast. With so many natural and flavorful offerings, you’re sure to find your fill on your next visit to Massachusetts. 

 

Can’t make it for a visit to the Old Colony State? Haven’t ordered your pack yet? It’s not too late! Don’t miss out – subscribe to get your box of Massachusetts treats today.

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