Friday4 {Wedding Edition}

Stanton Letter

I cannot believe that my sister, Whitney Grey Hewitt, will become Whitney Hewitt Stanton tomorrow. Their three year romance, and nine month engagement have all led up to the big event tomorrow. The planning, scheduling, designing and organizing have all culminated into what will be an absolutely perfect evening! In honor of the big day, I have dedicated today’s Friday5 to all things wedding.

1. Solemates High Heeler: Heels + Grass = Disaster! The Solemates High Heeler is the perfect solution to avoid your irreplaceable Louboutin’s (ok…I’m dreaming. I don’t own a pair) from receiving an irreversible grass stain. No longer fear cobblestone, bricks, grates or parquet floors. The Solemate attaches to the bottom of your heel, increasing the surface area of it, and reducing the pressure it puts on the area, therefore preventing sinking into the ground. I haven’t tried them, but think they could really come in handy considering the ceremony is being held on the outside lawn.

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2. Bride and Groom Day-Of Survival Kit: I had a really hard time trying to think of a gift to get my future brother-in-law. He has everything he needs, and guys are hard to buy for in general! I came up with an idea to put together a “Survival Kit” for the day-of the wedding. I had so much fun compiling goodies, that I decided to make a Bride Survival Kit as well. I included items like: extra black socks, shoe polish, 5 Hour Energy, Snacks, Waters, Advil, Tums, Baby Powder, Mints, Sewing Kit, Disposable Razors & Shaving Cream  Tide To Go Stain Remover, Lint Roller, Playing Cards, Oil Wipes, Bobby Pins, Straws, Tampons, Chalk (to disguise stains on the white dress) and of course a Ring Pop (just in case he forgot the essentials). I found some wording online, and created a template to print and put in his basket. To personalize the basket a little further, I had my ridiculously creative friend, Kathleen, create a personalized Jack Daniel’s label to include the grooms name, wedding date and venue location.

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3. DIY Personalized Jack Daniels Label: My wildly creative friend, Kathleen, helped me recreate a label that looks EXACTLY like the Jack Daniels label – only personalized with information specific to the wedding events. I love how real the label looks, and love even more that my sisters fiance will be able to keep this bottle as a keepsake and reminder of the wedding weekend. He already said he wasn’t going to open the bottle, but I have a feeling that might change once the nerves might kick in…

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4. Personalized Party Favors: My sisters future M-I-L and S-I-L’s have operate a popcorn company in Chicago called, The North Shore Popcorn Company. They make, market, and sell the popcorn themselves, and let me tell you…it is DELICIOUS! The Stanton’s decided to give the popcorn away as party favors as one of their many contributions to the wedding. The enlisted the help from a friend with an Etsy site to create the adorable personalized stickers, and the popcorn ribbon is the perfect final touch. I’m sure all of the wedding-goers will greatly appreciate a late-night snack to take home after a four-hour open bar!

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The Calm Before the Storm

T-5 days until my big sister marries her sweetheart. We were fortunate enough to slip away to the beach this weekend for our last family vacation with just the four of us.

I started the Jillian Michael’s 7 Day Cleanse (more to come on the results)

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We exercised each day…running is not so bad when this is your view…

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Cooked healthy meals, shrimp and salmon are a must at the beach

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Enjoyed a nice meal at our favorite restaurant, Frank’s…

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and of course, celebrated our sweet Momma.

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Looking forward to a busy, but productive week. I cannot believe that this weekend is already here. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating W&B’s engagement. Now if I could just get my maid-of-honor toast completed, I would feel a lot better. Any suggestions?!?

Dear Mama,

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“Lady… 
Don’t cha know we love ya? Sweet lady
Dear mama
Place no one above ya, sweet lady
You are appreciated
Don’t cha know we love ya?” -2PAC

Do you ever feel like rap lyrics are the only way to accurately portray your feelings? 2PAC’s “Dear Mama”  really hits the mark for me on how I feel about my mother, minus a few facts that I’m not huggin on my mama from a jail cell,  she wasn’t a poor single mother on welfare and I’m not sellin rocks to pay her rent.

Jokes aside, my mother is real life Saint walking the Earth. You can read about that here. She is my therapist, my maid, my chef, my personal assistant, my stylist, my best friend, my chauffeur, my interior designer…the list goes on forever. She gets up every day and gives tirelessly to our family.  Her kindness and generosity are endless.  She always puts others before herself, almost to a fault.  She is relentless, she is a fighter. She is beautiful.

Mom – I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words what you mean to me. You have set the bar pretty high – I can only pray that one day I’ll be blessed with a daughter and be able to show her unconditional love the way you do. I don’t do a very good job of showing it, but my love and admiration for you are so strong. I strive to be more like you every day. I love you!

“I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my Mommy you’ll be.

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May 8, 2010

It is hard to believe that three years have already passed since that blazing hot day in Columbia, SC. They say there are certain moments that change the complete trajectory of your life. There is no doubt in my mind that my future was completely impacted the day I decided to attend the University of South Carolina.

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I’ll be honest, although Columbia is only 90 minutes from home, USC was never on my radar until my senior year of high school. I dated someone a year older than me who went to USC, so I had the advantage of being able to visit Columbia often. I knew the lay of the land, knew the cool places to live and hangout, how football games worked, where you could easily use a fake ID and what fraternities threw the best parties.  While dating long distance was tough, I  made the decision to go to Carolina in the fall. Things would be easier when we were finally in the same town. It seemed devastating at the time, but my boyfriend and I broke up the summer before I was supposed to head down to school. Looking back, it was the best thing that could have ever happened. I was free to make my own friends, form my opinions, and learn things on my own. I never regretted “following” him (although the decision was ultimately one that I made independently of him being there) to a school, because it led me down the greatest four-year journey of my life.

Although it seemed like I blinked and four years passed, I grew up and grew in to the person I am today. College is a challenging environment. It’s a balance of freedom and discipline. Free will and discovery. There are parts of college I regret (like the drinking ticket, endless parking tickets, overkill on the Dr. Rocco’s slushies, having to retake calculus). There were tough moments too. Like experiencing the death of a friend for the first time. And the Ocean Isle 7 whose lives were cut way too short. I can look back and smile though knowing that the times of challenge and poor choices helped to mold me into who I am today.

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The regrets are few and far between. They are easy to bury when I think of all the wonderful things that happened. The friendships I made that are priceless. The girls that I met through my sorority who are lifelong friends that I know will be by my side until my dying day. I think about them often, and wish it was as easy as driving up to Delta house for lunch to see them again. I think of the pride I feel when I  get to exclaim to people I attended to THE University of South Carolina. I think of the “Year of the Gamecock” (2010) when we beat #1 Kentucky in basketball, #1 Alabama in football, and won the College World Series in baseball. I think of my class ring and Carolina license plate that allows me to represent the school from afar. I think of the connections I’ve made being able to serve on the Board of Directors for the Charlotte Alumni Association. I think of the conversations I am able to stir up with the man sitting next to me on the airplane whose wearing a USC shirt.

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Today marks 3 years since I walked across the stage and shook hands with Dr. Harris Pastides. I remember feeling such a sense of accomplishment  but also being scared to death for what was next.  The first few months were in fact scary. It was a difficult transition period where life was expected to change drastically and I was expected to become a grown-up. There were moments of confusion on where do I fit in. I was wearing a suit and going to work, but felt like I belonged more in a sorority t-shirt on a porch somewhere. I finally feel like I am where I’m supposed to be.  I am proud of where I am today. I am thankful that I am employed by a stable and growing company. I am lucky to have the group of friends and family that I do. I feel stable and like I belong. Above all, I am blessed that I made the decision to join the lifelong family of The University of South Carolina.

Forever To Thee!

Tee Time & Off To The Races

This past weekend is the only “free” weekend we have in May, so I was expecting it to be relaxing; silly me! We did manage to cram a lot of fun into the past few days, and wore a lot of different hats – literally!

Friday: We kicked the weekend off by grabbing some craft beer from Common Market and walking over to Food Truck Friday to eat dinner. The Food Truck lot was booming, the busiest I have ever seen it!  After finishing our delicious tacos from The Tin Kitchen, we headed to the  South End Gallery Crawl – an art crawl that South End put’s on the First Friday of each month.  We don’t consider ourselves “artsy” people, but the gallery crawl was really fun! I never knew there were so many galleries so close to us in South End. The galleries all had unique feels and a variety of art. We ended the evening by walking to Sullivan’s to meet some of our friends, Jade and Chris for a drink.  They both have had significant accomplishments take place in the past few weeks, and it was fun to celebrate their success! We’re so proud of you J&C!

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Saturday AM: We had planned to attend the Wells Fargo golf tournament on Sunday, but due to the weather report, we decided we better go on Saturday if we wanted to have decent weather. Matt and I went to the tournament together last year, and is one of our favorite things we’ve done. It’s so neat to see the golfers you see on TV every weekend, so close up. I have a huge crush on Rory and Webb, and wish that Phil was apart of my family. The weather wasn’t ideal, but I loved every minute of exploring the course with  MRH. It’s one of those events that I can see us making a yearly tradition for a long time!

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Saturday PM: Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend all day at the tournament because we had already made plans to watch the Kentucky Derby later that evening. We raced home from Quail Hollow, changed from our fleeces and tennis shoes and into our seer sucker and big hats.  Our contribution to the party were the Mint Juleps, which was an adventure seeing as neither one of us had ever drank or made them. Like any southern woman in cooking distress, I consulted  Southern Living magazine for some recipes.  The recipe called for mint simple sugar, but we decided it would be more fun to make it ourselves rather than buy. I am lucky enough to have a farmers  market that is set up right outside of my office building, so I purchased a plant of mint that we hope to later plant. We decided on the traditional mint syrup, and then also the grapefruit-honey syrup – delicious! We made the syrup’s on Friday night and let them sit overnight so that the mint would have ample time to diffuse in the syrup. Mint Julep’s are actually pretty simple; load a cup with crushed ice and then add 2 parts Bourbon and 1 part syrup. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the Juleps despite the fact that they contained Bourbon ( I had a disastrous run-in with Evan Williams back in college that ended very very badly. It took almost two years before I was able to talk to anyone named Evan without getting nauseous). We placed bets on a few of the horses and were so excited that Orb was one of them!

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Sunday: As expected, Sunday was dreary and gross outside. We were very glad we had decided to go to the tournament on Saturday. I don’t think I would have been much fun in the pouring rain. We embarked on our typical Sunday tradition, bottomless mimosa’s at Vivace. It’s always easier to convince Matt to go to the mall after a few drinks… and my plan worked  – we headed to South Park afterwards to run a few errands. Later that night, our friends Kelly and Mark invited us over for dinner. The guys grilled chicken, beef and lobster tails – – so good, and Kelly had prepared a spread of appetizers, fresh veggies and fruit, and paleo brownies (that actually tasted pretty good!). Kelly and Mark are the best hosts! And as always, it was great to see our other friends that were also there, Sam, Courtney and Rich. Having a fun Sunday night surely makes Monday morning a lot more bearable!

 

Friday5

1. REC10 Wireless Range Extender:  You know those annoying #firstworldprobelms that sometimes inhibit your productivity? Like when your wireless router is downstairs, you spend most your time upstairs, and the WiFi signal up there is shotty at best?  Enter Rec10’s Wireless Range Extender! For $70 the extender connects wirelessly to your existing router and extends your current signal, making those hard to reach caverns of your house accessible.

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2. OPI’s My Case Couture:  In a strange string of events, I somehow ended up spilling “Lincoln Park After Dark” all over my brand new iPhone case back in 2010, ruining it. Fast forward three years, and now it’s the trend, go figure! My Case Couture and OPI have teamed up to make your iPhone case as fabulous as your summer manicure. The cases come in six of OPI’s most popular colors and as an added bonus, each case comes with a matching mini bottle of polish.  The six colors out now are:

  • I’m Not Really a Waitress
  • Big Apple Red 
  • You Don’t Know Jacques 
  • Dating a Royal 
  • Pink Flamenco
  • Need Sunglasses? 

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3.  Sephora + Pantone Color IQ: Going to the cosmetic aisle at Target is overwhelming. There are about a million different options, and how can you really tell if you’re fairly light, or medium light? Not sure why someone didn’t think of this sooner, but make-up giant Sephora, and color experts Pantone have teamed up to create the “Color IQ” technology. The device scans the skin on your face and neck and assigns a Pantone skintone number to it, matching it to an exact foundation in the Sephora database. The database contains over 1,000 options, and can find your match in liquid or matte, radiant to matte. Unfortunately, the closest participating Sephora to me is Raleigh, but hoping it makes it’s way to South Park very soon!

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4. Beach Spike Drink Holder: While we’re on the topic of #firstworldproblems, can I take a minute to rant about how terrible it is to have sand stuck to the bottom of your can or bottle at the beach? Or even worse, sand all-up-in your favorite koozie.  The Beach Spike Drink Holder is the perfect beach accessory, and can also be used to hold on to your phone, sunglasses, chapstick, etc. The best part…it’s totally customizable with your monogram, school colors, etc.  Perfect summer gift!

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5.  Magic Future: Recently, (ok…the past five years or so) it’s really been on my mind to figure out what my life purpose is, what my goals are, and how I want my future to play out. It’s certainly a lot of pressure, and a large undertaking to figure this all out at 25! I was recently introduced to Magic Future, an online tool that helps you clarify what you want, how to achieve it, and steps to keep you on track along the way. The tool includes a section to help you create habits, visualize the future, and also determine your “MagicNumber” – the age where work becomes optional (fingers crossed its age 26!!). The cost ranges from $9.97/mo to a lifetime subscription of $498.50. I’m not completely sold that I need to pay for something that I could easily do myself with some diligence  but would be willing to try it out if it really could help me achieve my goals faster!

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To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,” Atticus tells Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.

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There are few things I remember about High School English class: 1) William Faulkner must have been on some serious drugs when he wrote The Sound and the Fury…that shit cray 2) The word “calendar”  actually ends with an “ar” and not an “er” and 3) What a treat it was to have the assigned reading of To Kill a Mockingbird.

For me, To Kill a Mockingbird, represented small town living in the South and the forces of good and evil. I remember reading the book in tenth grade and thinking how cool it would be to name my children Scout and Harper (this was before the Beckham’s named their fourth child this and it became overly popular). I loved the symbolism of the mockingbird, and above all else, it was a quick read, and easy to understand!

Before I bore you with an entire literary review on the piece, I promise this post has greater significance.  In honor of Harper Lee’s 87th birthday earlier this week, I’d like to share a real-life story with so much drama, juiciness and unanswered questions,  it could be it’s own southern novel…

This past Easter, I traveled with Matt to his grandparents house in Florida. You can read about my adventure at the lake here. One afternoon, the guys were out fishing which meant I was left behind at the house with Matt’s mom, sister and grandmother. The phone rang, Mimi (Matt’s grandmother) answered and this is where the story begins… Mimi was in the kitchen, but I could overhear her conversation from the living room. The conversation sounded like it could have easily been had by two high school girls “She’s mad at me“, “She won’t answer my calls“, “I don’t know what I did“, “I’m mad as a hornet“. Intrigued…and being completely nosy, I asked Mimi what that conversation was all about. She nonchalantly tells me that she and Harper Lee (the author of To Kill a Mockingbird) were once good friends, but that they had a falling out a few years ago.

It turns out that Mimi and “Nelle” (Harper’s real first name that all the locals know her by) were both raised in Monroeville, Alabama. Mimi described Nelle as loaner and different. You see, Nelle was a lesbian, and this was not widely accepted in the 50’s. She wore men’s clothing, always had a short manlike haircut, and acted like a tomboy. Nelle had an older sister named Alice. Alice was an attorney (still practicing today, actually) and so was Mimi’s husband, Bob.  Because of their shared profession, Alice really took to Bob, and in turn, so did Nelle. Often a recluse, Nelle became good friends with Mimi and Bob.  Mimi tells me that Nelle would often ask Bob to “take her to the boats” (the gambling boats in Biloxi, Mississippi).

To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960, was an immediate success and Lee moved to New York. According to Mimi, this is where the drama begins. Lee was great friends with Truman Capote (the author of the success, In Cold Blood) and apparently everyone in Monroeville knew Lee’s secret. She had received help from Capote with writing her book. People thought of her as a fake, and a fraud, so she packed up her belongings and moved to a small apartment in New York. To this day, she still owns that tiny apartment in New York. With all the success and all the money, she never upgraded living accommodations. She would come back to Monroeville twice a year, but kept to herself. She refuses to do interviews, even journalists who grew up in Monroeville know better. The local newspaper has an unwritten rule to leave her alone. Her life became a mystery.

Before moving to the lake, Mimi owned a gift shop in Monroeville. Mimi asked Lee to sign a few copies of her book to sell in the gift shop. Lee agreed, and Mimi sold out of the books in no time. So, Mimi asked Lee to sign some more. Lee ended up signing 500 books and selling them to Mimi. Being the savvy business woman that Mimi is, she marked up the price of the books; they were collectibles after all. And thus the reason for the rift between Mimi and Lee. Lee felt like Mimi was making a profit off her and that friends shouldn’t do something like that. The two haven’t spoken in years, and Lee is now in a nursing home in Monroeville. Mimi still has  eleven signed copies of the book, and has given personalized copies to Matt and his entire family.

I love that Mimi has ties to such a historic figure.  I love that the small town drama of a southern town still exists. I hope that one day Mimi and Nelle will be able to patch things up and continue where their friendship left off.

How well do you know Harper Lee’s timeless novel? Take Garden & Gun’s quiz to find out.