Which Hip Charlotte Hood Are You?

Although I live in Dilworth, I spend a lot of time in South End so I think this is pretty accurate. What hip hood are you?

www.charlottefive.com/which-hip-charlotte-hood-are-you

Advertisements

Wedding Wednesday: Bridesmaid Boxes

wedding-wednesday-header

One of the most exciting parts of wedding planning thus far has been asking my bridesmaids to be apart of our big day. We have both been very lucky to be blessed with many close and dear friends, which made the decision really tough. Ultimately though we decided that we wanted to keep the wedding party small and intimate. You always hear that you want people in your wedding who you you’ll still keep in touch with 20 years from now, and I feel confident that our group emulates that to “T”.

I knew I wanted to do something special to ask, so I created a bridesmaid box using a plain white box and pink decals from Surcee Monogram Shop. I filled the inside of the box with pink tissue paper and fun crinkle paper and then a heart shaped balloon and the cutest little can and straw of champagne; all things that “POP“.

2 of my 6 bridesmaids live here in Charlotte and the other 4 are scattered all over from Mississippi to Chicago. For those who live here in town, I hand delivered the boxes (plus one to a friend who happened to be in town for the weekend) and the other 3 I mailed with instructions to FaceTime me upon receiving.

photo 1 (10)

Whitney, Leslie, Kathleen, Chelsea, Carrie & Caroline: you all mean the world to me and embody the definition of a true friend. I feel honored that you all will be by my side not only on October 10th, but for the rest of our lives. Thank you for the love and support you’ve shown us, and I will try my best to not be a demanding diva (but I can’t make any guarantees!).

photo (30)

 

photo (33)

IMG_0497

IMG_0498

IMG_0496

 photo (23)

Friday5+

5onFridayLogo-Final-forblogsidemenu_edited-1_zps7fcf6068

These days, there’s an app for EVERYTHING. If money were no object, you wouldn’t actually have to leave your house. You can have someone come over to give you a manicure, ship a package, even deliver alcohol! It’s gotten a little nuts. Here’s a round-up of services you can get…

Shyp for sending packages. (No more post office lines!)

Instacart for groceries (Whole Foods, Costco, etc.)

Seamless for restaurant delivery.

Minibar for alcohol.

Good Eggs for farmer’s market goods.

UrbanStems or BloomThat for flower delivery.

Kitchensurfing for personal chefs.

Homepolish for interior decorating.

Washio for laundry and dry cleaning.

Priv for manicures and beauty treatments at home.

Glamsquad for blow outs at home.

Zeel or Soothe for at-home massages.

Handy for handymen and home cleaning.

TaskRabbit for random tasks.

Postmates for delivery of pretty much anything.

Wedding Wednesday: Venue Shopping

wedding-wednesday-header

I never wanted to be the type of bride who started planning the wedding within hours of getting engaged. But who am I kidding? My type-A personality has been rearing to go with the wedding plans since Matt and my second date. While we did let the engagement sink in for a few hours days, I knew we were going to have to act quick if we wanted to plan a wedding for 2015. You see, all of those darn 2014 brides have a hold on mostly all of the 2015 dates, leaving just a few options available to us. We know we want to get married in 2015 (because who wants to wait a year and a half for 2016??) and I have always wanted a fall wedding. The Carolina’s are absolutely amazing in the fall and I have always envisioned a crisp, blue, beautiful Charlotte day. That being said, we spent our first weekend as an engaged couple looking at venues around town. Here is what we’ve seen so far:

1. The Duke Mansion

duke mansion

Pros: Elegant, classy, all-inclusive, guests can stay on-site, Old Charlotte

Cons: Crazy expensive, only have 1 date left (November), my sister got married here (don’t want to steal her thunder)

2. The Mint Museum | Randolph

Mint-Randolph2011-007

Pros: Affordable, great date selections available, Old Charlotte, many different space options, great on-site event coordinator, guests have access to exhibits

Cons: A bit dated, inside area is choppy (would likely to most of the event outdoors)

3. The Mint Museum | Uptown

25 - MMU (1)

Pros: Convenient for out-of-town guests who will stay uptown, new, modern, interesting space to explore

Cons: Large over-sized venue space/hard to decorate/make feel cozy, minimal fall dates left

4. The Bechtler Museum

bechtler

Pros: Lots of dates left (easy to see why)

Cons: Only have one space for events that was tiny and cold

5. Charlotte Country Club

CCC

Pros: Elegant, classy, amazing, surprisingly affordable, historic Charlotte

Cons: None — seriously, it’s perfect

6. Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens

cloninger_6

Pros: Beautiful gardens, variety of spaces to choose from, guests have access to gardens, affordable

Cons: Far! (like 30-45 min from Charlotte), the open late-fall dates available could mean it would be dark for ceremony/reception

We still have a few more venues to look at (open to suggestions!!) before making a final decision. However, all other decisions are pending this one (photographer, band, etc.) so we are hoping to have the big day nailed down in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

Friday5

5onFridayLogo-Final-forblogsidemenu_edited-1_zps7fcf6068

1. Touch Tonic for Gloves: Touch Tonic is a paint-on solution that you paint onto the tips of your gloves making them touchscreen capable. No more cutting off your tips or frost bite fingers to send that ever important Snapchat. They make a version for leather gloves and another for fleece gloves.

touch-tonic-e2cb_600.0000001414075164

2. Key Smart: Do you walk around with a ring of keys that resembles a high school janitor? (cough cough: Mom!) Key Smart helps by combining all of your keys into one swiss army style key holder. One Key Smart key organizer can fit up to 100 keys and they offer different colors and add-ons for USBs, pocket clips and bottle openers.

Product Photography of KeySMart taken at Studio on April 04, 2014.

3. Knockoff Clarisonic Replacement Brush Heads: They say you should replace your Clarisonic brush every 3 months. By “every 3 months” they really mean every year and a half, right?? At $27 a pop, I surely don’t have an extra $100 a year to be buying these. Thankfully, Taylor at Its The Little Things blogged about these knockoff replacement heads that you can buy on Amazon. I was skeptical at first, but all the reviews say they are as good as the real deal. And at $1.25 a piece, I’m willing to take the chance!

77b468923c70a902424a73e2d8981cc1 (1)

4. 52 week money challenge: Yesterday I mentioned that I used the 52-week money challenge to save almost $1,400 for our trip to Mexico. This is such a great way to save extra money, and the most you’re putting in is $52, which is totally doable. My friend Kathleen at Gratefully Golden had a great idea to do this challenge, but in reverse. That way, you’re putting the most money in at the beginning of January when you’re likely to have more mulah thanks to Christmas (or birthdays!). If you haven’t started yet, no worries, you’re only $21 behind which is easy to make-up quickly.

52-week-money-challenge-template_homephilosophy-wordpress-com_image3

5. Free Food: Don’t judge me, but I’ve gone to Chick-fil-a three times this week. On Tuesday they were giving away free Chicken Mini’s (and calories don’t count on your birthday) and then I’ve gone two other times to get a free Iced Vanilla Coffee. For the remainder of February, they are giving away a free cup of its new specialty-grade THRIVE Farmers coffee at all restaurant locations. Customers can pick up a 12 ounce (small) cup of hot coffee or a 16 ounce (medium) iced coffee throughout the month. Also, today at Menchie’s from 4-8 p.m. you can get a free frozen yogurt with toppings

ChickfilA-Iced-Coffee

 

Meh-He-Co

This time last week I was laying on the beach drinking as many cocktails as the all-inclusive resort would allow. Me, my mom and sister did the 52 week money challenge in 2014 with the end goal of using the almost $1,400 to go on a girls trip. We decided Mexico in late January would help our seasonal affective disorder blues so we booked a trip for a long weekend. With the engagement frenzy, blizzards and an upcoming birthday, this trip was just what the doctor ordered!

#oneofthesethingsistannerthantheothers

#oneofthesethingsistannerthantheothers

We left early Thursday morning and flew direct from Charlotte into Cancun. The flight was less than 2 hours and easy breezy. A quick twenty-minute cab ride from the airport and we were at our resort for the week, The Grand Park Royal.

We got up early every morning and indulged in a hearty breakfast and then spent the remainder of the days laying by either the pool or the beach. Feeling the sunshine and seeing the most magnificent turquoise water was good for the soul. Each night we got dressed up and had dinner at one of the resorts three restaurants.

image3 (1)

image2 (1)

 

image2 (2)

 

image1 (2)

image4

Singing karaoke has been on my mothers bucket list, so we figured what better place to cross that off the list than in Mexico where we would never have to see anyone ever again. All day long we had talked up our performance to all of the “friends” we had met at the resort. We wanted to ensure that we would have fans present. Because of the rain the karaoke was moved from a rooftop bar to a dark basement conference room, u-shaped table and projection screen and all; clearly not the optimum environment for stars like ourselves. The first song that was sang was Evanescene followed by slow song after boring song after momentum killer. We knew we needed to sing a crowd favorite that would get people out of their seats, so we decided on “Shout”. There were only two microphones so Whitney and I were on lead vocals, while mom took the role of “hype man”.

To say we bombed would be an extreme understatement. At one point I saw a man put his head in his hands and shake it in disgust. I couldn’t even look into the crowd because of all the terrified faces I saw. It was like performing in front of a group of blind and deaf geriatric patients. There was no interaction and there weren’t people dancing in the aisles as I had imagined it would go down in my head. Apparently these people had never been to a wedding before…Whitney and I even went as far as to get on the ground during “a little bit softer now” and that didn’t even win the crowd over (and I imagine that’s not an easy task with a broken foot and large boot). Special shout-out to the two men who at least clapped along and humored us.  I’ll save you the horror of the entire 5 minute video, but here is a small snip-it.

 

We felt terrible that Sandy’s karaoke debut went down in flames, but there’s always next time girl!! We had a few more drinks and then decided the best pick-me-up was to go back to the room where we proceeded to indulge in room service, including an entire chocolate cake. Isn’t the point of an all-inclusive to be as gluttonous as possible?

photo (25)

 We licked our wounds and got up the next morning ready for another fun day (we may have all worn hats and glasses as disguises) but there was no reason for us to feel down. In our minds, the performance was amazing and that’s all that matters. We ended the trip with a private yoga session and massage on the beach. What an incredibly relaxing and centering hour.

image (8)

Coming back to reality (and 30 degree temps) was not ideal, but we all felt so refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world again. I am so thankful for the four days in paradise with “Hewitt Amigas” and feel certain this will now become a yearly tradition!

27 Lessons on Turning 27

download (1)

Today I turn 27. Wow, TWENTY. SEVEN.  There’s no way that I’ve been on this Earth that long, is there? Most days I still feel like I’m 15 and wonder who trusted to me to live on my own and keep myself alive.  Two years ago I sat down and came up with 25 lessons I had learned over the past 25 years of life, and then added a 26th last year. Each year I go back and read them and they are all still so true. I decided that each year I would add another lesson that I had learned throughout the prior year.  Over my 27 years of life, I have learned a lot of lessons;  some of which came fairly easy, and some were learned in excruciating painful, long and difficult ways.  All in all, I am thankful for everything I have been through and  for everyone  (good and bad) who has taught me life lessons along the way!

1. Family Matters Most: This is first for a reason. At the end of the day, your family is all that matters. I have been blessed with the most amazing parents (who have taught me 25 million good lessons) and a wonderful sister that I often take for granted. It seems we often take  our anger and frustration out on those who love us the most, and I am guilty of this a lot. My family has taught me that friends will come and go, but you can always rely on family to be there for you.

2. If you don’t know something, ask!: I used to be really shy and awkward when it came to asking questions. But I quickly learned this lesson at the Harris Teeter when I had to start shopping for myself.  Mom is not always near her phone when you’re scouring the aisles for fig or cumin. Sometimes you have to just ask. This is one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned. There’s A LOT I don’t know, and there’s a large chance someone else was wondering the same thing. I’ve never been embarrassed once finding out the answer.

3. Always include the date: My Grandmother always included the date on everything. And my Dad also passed this lesson down to me. You’ll be glad you did when you want to look back on that diary entry about your middle school crush, or NSYNC concert from 1998. Sadly, our memories will eventually fail us.

4. Handwritten notes go a long way: I once had a lady who I interviewed with tell me that I was the only person who wrote her a handwritten thank-you note after the interview, and that gave me a competitive edge of everyone else. Handwritten letters are a dying breed, and mean a lot more than an email.

5. AAA cuts you off after 9 calls a year: My sister and I learned this lesson the hard way. Don’t lock your keys in the car 3 times in one day if you expect your membership to last an entire year.

6. Don’t fight fire with fire: I can’t say that I’ve totally conquered this, but am working hard on it. It’s amazing how much a fight can escalate when you respond with yelling anger. I’ve noticed that if you sit in silence during an argument, the other person has no other choice but to calm down. Man, I wish I had learned this a long time ago!

6.  Positive thinking really does work: I read the book “The Secret” a few years ago, and think it’s one of the greatest philosophies I’ve heard of. The Secret teaches that every thought we have can actually will something into fruition. Good and bad, I’ve seen this work in real life. Ask for what you want and then believe you will get it.

8. Heartbreak sucks: Whether you’re 15 or 22, heartbreak sucks. I have had a broken heart that lasted a few weeks, and one that lasted a few years. But the good news is that it does eventually heal. There were times when I thought I would never get over it, but I now look back and laugh. Wounds eventually heal, and you come to find that you’re stronger and better because of it.

9. Always floss: There was a picture in my dentist’s office that said “Only floss the teeth you want to keep”, and I guess that’s accurate. My mom has been relentlessly telling me this for as long as I can remember. I wish I was better at it, and am trying to keep up with it. It’s always embarrassing getting called out at the dentist for not doing it.

10. Like a variety of music: I pride myself on my diverse iTunes selection. From The Allman Brothers to Lil Wayne, Trisha Yearwood to Foo Fighters, there is something on there for everyone. Liking many genres of music makes you more culturally diverse, plus you have an appropriate playlist for any occasion.

11. Bangs are the devil: I have made a strict covenant with myself that my daughters will never have bangs. Never. I look back on baby pictures and wonder what in the world Sandy was thinking. The worst part is that the bangs haunted me into Elementary School. Not only do the look horrible, but they are a bear to grow out.

12. Create a budget and stick to it: I am so grateful that I learned this lesson early on. There are so many people who are in debt because of bad financial decisions they  made when they were my age. I am glad I took the time to educate myself on savings, retirements and investing. I know one day I’ll look back and thank myself for being so diligent.

13. Trust in God: Along with family, God is the only person who will love me despite bad choice, bad bangs, and a multitude of other shortcomings. As hard as it is to remember and follow, the ultimate plan is up to Him. He has this whole life thing taken care of, I just have to trust that he is in charge. He knows what he’s doing, and he has my best interest at heart.

14. There, Their, They’re: I can thank my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Keziah, for this invaluable life lesson. There is nothing worse than poor grammar. I am so glad I learned this lesson early on!

15. Get to the ocean at least once a year: Growing up we would spend a mandatory week at the beach each summer. Although it’s tough to take a full week off, and to schedule a week that’s good for everyone, I still try to get there. I used to have the flexibility to get there more often, but am thankful for when I do get there now. Living three hours from the coast and having gracious friends who are willing to share their beach houses with you is very lucky situation to be in. There is something so peaceful and serene about the beach that recharges your soul.

16. Wear Perfume: I used to be the person who would buy nice perfume, but never wear it. Or buy a great candle, but never burn it.  What was I saving it for? Wear your nice jewelry and underwear, sleep on the good sheets, use the good china. Enjoy it every day, don’t wait for special occasions.

17.  70 °F is warm enough to wear shorts: Apparently growing up, my sister and I wanted to wear shorts to school every day (not really sure why?). So my parents implemented a clever rule. If it was 70 degrees or warmer, we could wear shorts. Oddly enough, I  still use this rule today as a standard of what the temperature is. If its below 70, it must be cold out, and if it’s over 70, it’s going to be a nice day.

18.  Life is not a reality show: But I sometimes secretly wish it was… Drama and theatrics are for high school and Bravo. No, camera crews are not following you, and no, you don’t have a hair and makeup team. As I grow older, I’ve realized that petty drama is not entertaining, and adds nothing positive to friendships. I’d prefer to have a few close friends in my circle, then a lot of people I don’t trust.

19. Never mess with a swan or her baby: In High School I took a jog around the pond in my parents neighborhood. A quick jog that ended in bloodshed. Come to find, mother swans are extremely protective and won’t tolerate anyone near their babies.  Lesson learned. I’ll never forget how large the circumference of that swans neck was, or the Homeowners Association telling my father that it was a federal offense to shoot a swan after he threatened.

20. Hot dogs and salami cause cancer: Two of my favorite foods, of course. My Mother is the healthiest eater I know, and as a breast cancer survivor, she is very particular about the foods she eats. She has drilled it into our minds that processed foods are toxic. It’s taken a while to finally accept this, but the woman has a good point. There can’t be anything redeeming about ingesting chemicals.

21.  Google can answer anything: There has never been any question that I’ve had that Google hasn’t been able to answer. I’d love to know the average times I visit the site per day. My guess would be around 100.  It’s the quickest and most direct way to find any tidbit of knowledge you’d ever want to know. I praise the mastermind who was behind this ingenious idea.

22. The first pancake always turns out bad: Just accept it, make another, and move on.

23.  Know a few fun facts & keep up with current events: Read or watch the news daily. It gives you a leg up if you actually know what’s going on in the world. People who are informed and have an opinion are extremely interesting. You never know where a good conversation will lead you. Dinner and business meetings with strangers are awkward. Have a few fun facts up your sleeve for these events.

24.  Fall in love and dance: Falling in love with someone is the greatest joy a human can experience. I am so thankful that I have been able to experience this already at such a young age.  It is the most comforting feeling in the world to know that you’re loved by someone else. Dance. Dance a lot. Even it’s just a slow dance in the kitchen after dinner.

25.  Some good comes from all bad: In 5th grade I was assigned a project to interview my grandparents. At the time, it didn’t mean anything. Now that my grandparents are deceased, it means everything.  I vividly remember asking my Grandfather what quote would sum up his life, and he said, “some good comes from all bad“. Ain’t that the truth! I fully believe that every life event is a either a blessing or a lesson!

26.  The power of positive thinking: I have always been a psychology nerd and truly believe “what you think about, you bring about”. But this year more than ever I have seen first hand how showing gratitude for the things you enjoy in your life brings about more of those opportunities. When I look around most of the things I have now were once among the things I had only hoped for. Happy people are fun to be around and I am making a concerted effort to be joyful, energetic and fulfilled.

27.  You can teach an old dog new tricks: There was a point in time where I thought I knew everything (sorry mom and dad!). It’s ironic that as I get older I realize I know less and less than I thought I did. This realization compounded by the fact that I’m not getting any younger, gave me a swift kick in the pants to get out there and learn new things! I learned how to sew, shoot skeet, write in calligraphy, shag dance and how to play tennis. You never know when your health will start to decline, so make today the day you get out there and try something new!

download