Friday5 {Gadget Gifts}

Um, does anyone know where the last 11 months went? I can’t believe Christmas will be here in only 25 DAYS! For those of you who have yet to step foot into the mall, don’t worry. Today’s Friday5 is dedicated to gifts that the techie in your life will love!

1. Power Mate Plus Portable Backup Battery for iPhone: How is that my iPhone can have 100% battery when I leave the house in the morning and yet die before I leave the office that evening? I’m sure incessantly checking Facebook updates and refreshing Instagram every 3 seconds has nothing to do with it.  I am convinced that there is no worse feeling in the world than when you see the spinning spiral of death right before your phone shuts down and you’re instantly ex-communicated from the world. It is a feeling that I’d rather never relive again, and the good news is that now I don’t have to.  The Power Mate Plus is GENIUS! So how does it work? Charge the device by connecting it via USB to your computer, throw it in your purse, and you’re protected against your next dead-phone dilemma. Once plugged into your phone, it adds 42% battery, and you’re back! The Power Mate Plus for J. Crew is perfect for the fashion-forward techie!

J. Crew Cheetah Print Power Mate Plus

Power Mate Plus – Hexagon

 

2. Infmetry Multi Purpose Cable Clips: Sometimes it feels like a full-time job trying to keep my iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Laptop all fully charged (first world problems, right?). Infmetry Multi Purpose Cable Clips offers a solution to make this daunting process a little easier. Simply peel, stick and clip and all of the cables to your charges stay in place. No more fishing behind nightstands, beds or desks! The best part is that these babies are only $2.50 for 6! Great stocking-stuffer idea for the whole family!

multi_purpose_cable_clips (1)

3. Brookstone Automatic Wine Opener: Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, should come between a woman and her Pinot Grigio. And I would consider a manual wine opener to be one of these obstacles. Last Christmas, I received an automatic wine opener and it has changed my life. Mine runs off of a charge, but there are others that use batteries. This is a great gift for the wine-0 in your life!

Brookestone Automatic Wine Opener

Brookestone Automatic Wine Opener

 

4. Nike FuelBand: The NikeFuel Band tracks your daily activity (running, walking, playing sports, dancing, taking the stairs etc.) and turns it into “Nike Fuel”. The band keeps track of your activity and also pairs with your smartphone or computer to track progress. The band allows you to set goals for each day, see your activity history, and compete with friends. The band lights up from red, to yellow, to green visually showing you how close you are to your goal each day. There’s really no way to ignore it when it’s on your wrist, right?

Nike FuelBand

Nike FuelBand

 

5. HandFont Personal Handwriting App: I don’t know about you, but I think an iTunes Gift Card is always a great gift idea.  Having a balance on your iTunes (that you didn’t pay for) makes it a whole lot easier to purchase that new Christina Aguilera song that you really like, but are somewhat embarrassed to purchase.  For $4.49 you can purchase the HandFont Personal Handwriting App. This app is awesome because it captures your own handwriting and turns it into a personalized font. You can use your font on Microsoft Word, Notepad, thank you cards, scrapbooking or blogging.

HandFont

HandFont

mzl.tofdjasu.320x480-75

Meagan’s Getting Hitched!

In less than 2 months Ms. Meagan Hetrick will become Mrs. Clay Smoak and this past weekend was spent celebrating! I was so excited when I found of that Meagan’s bachelorette party would be in spent in Charlotte. What more can you ask for than a “staycation” and all your close friends in town? I loved playing “tour guide” and “activity director”. So many people commented on how nice, clean, and fun Charlotte is – it definitely made me a proud resident. This weekend reminded me just how lucky I am to call this place home, and how lucky I am to have such awesome friends.

Friday night we all met up at the Omni, quickly unpacked, and then headed to Vida at the Epicentre for dinner. Vida has a great atmosphere and also really good salsa and margaritas. We all sat at a large table and caught up. It’s been almost three years since we graduated and we’re now living all over…from Greenville to Columbia, Augusta to Savannah, Atlanta and Charlotte. The great part about close friends is that it’s super easy to pick up where you left off. Sometimes it seems as if time has never passed. I love this! After dinner we headed back to the hotel for Meagan’s lingerie shower. I was so impressed by all of the small details that Meagan’s sister (also the Matron of Honor) thought of. There wasn’t a single thing she overlooked. I jotted down many fantastic ideas to replicate when I throw my sister’s bachelorette weekend in April. Meagan’s sister played a video that she had recorded of her fiancé answering questions about their relationship. Then Meagan had to guess what his answers would be. You can tell they know each other very well because she answered almost all of the questions correctly! Clay ended the video by saying how excited he was for Meagan to become his wife, and it brought tears to my eyes. They are such an awesome couple and I am so excited for the two of them!!

The Beautiful Bride

Love yall!

Thanks to the wonders of blackout curtains, we were able to “sleep in” (9am) a little. We got ready, piled in some cars, and headed to 300 East for a delicious lunch. 300 East is off of East Blvd and is an old charming house. We had the upstairs pretty much to ourselves which set up the afternoon perfectly for some mimosas and gab! I ordered a butternut squash and pumpkin seed pesto pizza. Definitely outside of my club sandwich comfort zone, but well worth the risk.  After lunch we went to Polished for mani’s and pedi’s. Polished is perfect for large parties. They have plenty of pedicure chairs and the free alcohol doesn’t hurt either. I think everyone was really impressed. What a great business model, right? I know the sangria keeps me a very happy customer. The next stop on our tour was South Park Mall. We all divided and conquered the stores we wanted to go to. Saturday night was the big shebang. Clothed in sequence, high-heels and some teased hair, we headed to dinner at Enso. We were in a private room with a few other large parties and it was nice because we could be a little louder than if we were in the regular part of the restaurant. The atmosphere was perfect for our event. After an almost 3-hour dinner, we headed to Howl at the Moon. Unfortunately, our experience was not as great there as we experienced elsewhere. The Management was disrespectful, but that’s ok, they just lost out on business from 14 thirsty girls. We headed to BlackFinn which was a much better choice. We spent the remainder of the night dancing and singing til the lights came on and the bar was closing. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve had a night like that, and it was much needed.

300 East

Polished

More pedicures

Pedicures

Meagan signing the wall at Polished

My Partner-In-Crime

We ran into my sister and her bridesmaids!

We woke up fairly early on Sunday and headed our separate ways. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole morning. I am so blessed to have these girls in my life. I am also so thankful for the college experience I had, and for joining Tri Delta, which brought us all together! It was hard to say goodbye, but glad that we will all get to see each other soon at the wedding! It had been four days since I had seen Matt, and I was really, really missing my man. To my surprise, he cooked breakfast (heart pancakes and all) and had a mimosa waiting for me. I am such a lucky girl! Maybe I should go “out of town” more often! The weekend surely was exhausting, but spending it was old friends and a short week makes it all worth it!

Heart Pancake

Congrats Meagan and Clay, we can’t wait for the big day!

Friday5 {Thanksgiving Edition}

I think I love Thanksgiving almost as much as I love Christmas. It is the one holiday where our family comes to Charlotte. For years we would pack up the car and travel to Virginia to my grandparents house. I’m so glad my parents finally made the decision that we would stay put and have everyone come to us. We have a very small extended family, but over the years we’ve been so lucky to “adopt” some members and our celebration has grown. It’s sad that it takes a specific day to recognize your blessings, but each year as I sit at the table, I am in awe at all that I have been provided with. This year we have even more to be thankful for – as we’re adding a new member, Bob, to the family in May!

 

 

1. DIY Chalkboard Menu Board: Chalkboard spray paint is around $7 and is super easy to use. For this menu board, you can spray glass from an old frame, an old mirror or even an old cabinet door. I also saw someone who had gotten a plastic silver platter from the dollar store and sprayed the interior portion and made it a menu board. This is a great way to display what your guests will be eating, and cheap and easy to make!

 

 

2. Corkcickle:  If you’re anything like the Hewitt’s, then you like some (a lot) of wine with your Thanksgiving meal. There is nothing worse than a lukewarm bottle of white wine. And unless you like ice cubes in your glass or making a million trips to the fridge, then this could really put a damper on your festivities. Plus, who has room on their table for an ice bucket? I plan to have my table filled to maximum capacity with FOOD. The “Corkcickle” is an amazing invention. Simply pop in the freezer for 2 hours before you plan to use it, insert into a chilled bottle and wah-lah! The “Corkcickle” can be cleaned and reused over and over and keeps wine at the perfect temperature.

 

 

3. Turkey Trot: Somehow I convinced every one in my family to run at 5K race on Thanksgiving morning…still not really sure how I pulled this one off?? None of us are runners. And none of us have ran 3 straight miles in a LONG time. Although the fam has been calling it the “death march”, I know we will all be proud we did it at the end. Personally, I think everyone should just be glad we’re not doing the 8K. Plus, the more calories you burn, the more you get to eat, right?

 

4. Clemson/Carolina Rivalry: Competition between sisters can be ruthless, especially when you both attended college at rival Universities. The Clemson/Carolina rivalry is unlike anything else. Regardless if they actually went to college at one of the schools, every person in the state of South Carolina has an allegiance to one school or the other.  Each year, “The Battle of the Palmetto State” reminds me of how lucky I am to feel so passionate about where I went to school. The game is the longest uninterrupted series in the South and the second longest uninterrupted series overall, having been played every year since 1909.  We also have started a family tradition involving the game. My Dad finds the wishbone in the turkey, and my sister and I each get a side to break.  The theory is that whoever gets the “lucky break” will have their team win the big game. So far it’s been true every year since we started doing it. Having many friends and family who went to Clemson keeps things very interesting and exciting and I love that we will always have this rivalry to keep things interesting. The history behind the event is so unique – and makes me very proud to be a Carolina Gamecock!

Clemson/Carolina 2011
(USC 34- CU 13)

Clemson/Carolina 2009
(USC – 34 CU -17)

5. Giving Back: So you’ve stuffed your face and start to doze off when the Post-Thanksgiving blues begin to set in. You realize the main event has come and gone and all that’s left to show for it is a bunch of dirty dishes and hopefully a few deviled eggs. Giving back to the community is a great way to re-energize! There are many opportunities to serve those around you. Besides the entire purpose of Thanksgiving is to be thankful for what you have and to give to those who don’t have as much.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all!

 

The Great Misunderstanding

This week we graduated from Financial Peace University! I first wrote about the course a few months ago (you can read about it here) and have loved every minute of it. It is definitely the smartest $100 I have ever spent, and I highly recommend it to anyone. I had many revelations, light bulb moments, and ahhhh-haaa’s on a variety of topics: insurance, home buying, retirement, college planning, and debt. But the last class hit home the most. The final lesson was titled “The Great Misunderstanding” – and boy was that accurate! Most of us currently understand that we have earned everything we own, and it is all ours. But, that is incorrect…

Everything we have is GODS.  He is the OWNER. He just has trusted you and I to be MANAGERS of it. He OWNS IT ALL.

Wow, what a perspective shift!! When I think of it as God’s money, it sure does make it hard to justify eating out 5 times a week, but not tithing or giving.  I also know that when I think of it as managing someone else’s money for them, it makes me want to be a lot more cautious about where the money is going.

Without the last step of “Build Wealth and Give,” financial peace is not possible.  Giving is in the very essence of God’s personality – so how can I say that I am Christ-like, or a Christ-follower when I’m not a giver? Every time I understand that I am not an owner, I move further down the spectrum from selfish to selfless. Plus, I don’t think there has ever been a person who has felt worse after giving. Giving of yourself, your money, or other resources turns lose passion, and creativity and has even caused reconciliation in relationships because when you give, YOU CHANGE. It turns you into who you were BORN to be!

With the holidays on their way, prepare your heart for giving. What can you give up in order to provide for someone else? And if you don’t have the financial means that’s OK. Volunteer your time, or your skills, or your resources As a steward of God’s money, we are called to give like He would.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” –Acts 20:34

Friday5

1. Louis Vuitton Neverfull: I received this as a gift last Christmas, and have not switched out purses since. I am so obsessed with all things Louis Vuitton, but especially this bag. The name is dead on. It somehow really is NEVER FULL, no matter how much I manage to stuff in it. It is perfect for every day purse items, but even better when you’re traveling and want to cram as much as you can into your carry-on.  I’ve also found it works really great as a work bag because you can fit your laptop, or iPad, along with everything else you need. It’s definitely an investment piece, but well worth the money!

I have the damier pattern and love that the inside is a feisty red!

2. B-Cycle: Maybe this makes me a nerd, but I cannot get enough of B-Cycle!! Have you seen the bike racks popping up everywhere around the South End, Dilworth, and Uptown areas? If so, you HAVE to try them out. How does it work? It’s simple. You go to one of the bike racks, swipe your credit card, and you’re off. There is an $8 upfront fee that you pay no matter what. After that, your first 30 minutes are free, and then $4 for every 30 minutes after that.  While that can get somewhat pricey, we’ve found an inexpensive way to ride. We pay the $8, and then only ride the bikes to places where we can get to in under 30 minutes. Our favorite thing to do is walk to the East/West light rail station, hop on the bikes, ride them to Metropolitan, participate in Sunday Bottomless Mimosas and then ride ( or walk depending on how many mimosas I’ve had) them back home. During the DNC convention the bikes were an awesome way to sight see without getting stuck in the traffic. Yearly passes are $65 which would eliminate the $8 fee you pay every time.  Going green has never been so fun!

Tourists in our own town

Sightseeing at Charlotte’s version of the bean

3.  Ella B  Pure Soy Candles: Do you struggle like I do when it comes to buying Christmas gifts? This year is especially tricky because I now have a boyfriends family to buy for. I recently read about these awesome Ella B candles. First, they are made of soy, not paraffin wax like most candles. Soy candles are made of biodegradable resources and will burn for 60+ hours! Second, these candles are made locally in Matthews by a lady who considers herself a “momtrepreneur” – she started the line to teach her two young daughters important business lessons. Thirdly, the candles are named after Charlotte-area neighborhoods; there’s a Ballantyne, Cotswold, Davidson, Dilworth,  Eastover,  Foxcroft, Lake Norman, Matthews, McAdenville, Myers Park, NoDa, Plaza Midworth, Providence, Queen City, SouthPark, The Mint and Uptown. The Providence candle has a relaxing lavender scent and was designed to have a calming sanctuary feel, like all of the churches you pass on Providence Rd.  This might just be the perfect gift for out-of-towners!

4. Happy Hour App: If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good happy hour. The free “Happy Hour” app uses your location to tell you about different happy hour specials that are currently happening. You can also select certain days and times to plan a fun evening ahead. Specials include drink and food deals and some offer coupons. Perhaps the best feature is the happy hour countdown clock?
5. Progresso Light Soup: The commercials are supper annoying, but the soup is great! The Progresso Light soups have been a lifesaver to me lately. I love that they are quick and easy. You can grab a can on your way out the door, and you don’t have to worry about actually packing something for lunch. Not only are they pretty low in calories, they are SO filling. My favorites are: Creamy Potato with bacon (duh)  and the Zesty Southwestern-Style vegetable, yum!!!

Is it Uptown or Downtown?


“South Tryon Street from Square, Charlotte, N.C.” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077). North Carolina Collection Photographic Arvhices, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill.

If you live in Charlotte, you know there is a lot of confusion surrounding the proper labeling for Uptown/Downtown Charlotte. For those of  us who are “locals”, it seems as “uptown”‘ is universally used. However, to a visitor it would seem that  “downtown” more properly defines the area. Confused myself,  I decided to do some research and here is what I found…

Apparently in prior to the 1980’s the area was referred to as “downtown” by all residents. In 1983, Billy Joel’s hit “Uptown Girl” was released and a massive campaign was introduced by city leaders to revamp the Center City area. The campaign included plans to renew the area and leaders thought that redefining the area to be called “Uptown” would help create a more positive, upbeat opinion of the area. On February 14, 1987, the Charlotte Observer began using the term “Uptown” and school teachers were provided historical documents justifying the use of the new term to teacher students.

While the previous theory seems legit, there are also locals who have lived in Charlotte for three or more generations who claim that they have always called the area “Uptown”.  The main intersection of Center City, Trade Street and Tryon Street,  has been the point of highest elevation. When people would come to Charlotte from outlying areas, they would say they were going “up to town” which was later shortened to “Uptown”. If you’ve ever sat at the traffic light at the Randolph Rd. and Wendover Rd. looking towards the city, you will see that the city is in fact elevated more than most of the land below.

Whatever you choose to call it, center city has prospered since these pictures were taken in 1911. Thanks to city leaders, the banking industry, and many proud Charlotte-ians we’ve become a flourishing city!


“South Tryon Street from Square, Charlotte, N.C.” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077). North Carolina Collection Photographic Arvhices, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill.