Weekend Wrap Up

It’s Tuesday but it feels like Wednesday. Boy is this week flying by! My husband’s best friend, Charles, visited over the weekend. We ate A LOT of food, starting with Queen City Q for barbecue on Friday. Since we had just been there the week before, I opted for wings this time. Wings are my weakness. Actually, anything with buffalo sauce is my weakness. I could live off of bland foods dipped in buffalo sauce.

IMG_6659Our friends Enrique and Urmie who recently moved to Charlotte, joined us for dinner and the Hornets game. We were in row A and I can’t say enough how much I love not having people sitting in front of me (now only if I could also not have them behind me!). We spied Michael Jordan from our seats.

IMG_6655

Even after having him here in Charlotte for several years now, it’s still pretty awesome to see him live at the games. The game was a thriller, with the Hornets winning in double overtime, with a last minute 3-point shot by Lance Stephenson.

IMG_6726

On Saturday, I had to get in my run to stay on track with my training for Key West. I decided to take it outdoors since the weather was next to perfect.  I have no idea what happened on mile 3, but other than that, I had a pretty good pace.

IMG_6352I had some pretty awesome scenery on my run, too. Fall is amazing for running. I am dreading winter long runs with bare trees and grey skies. But hey, at least it’s not snowing yet!

IMG_6707Saturday evening, we introduced Charles to NoDa Brewing and Birdsong. Being the wonderful groomsman and friend that he is, he remembered that he had Birdsong’s Jalapeño Pale Ale before our wedding and that we served Olde Mecklenburg Copper at our wedding.

IMG_6697

We love Charlotte’s craft beer scene, although I will say that we were disappointed this weekend to hear of NoDa’s new location that will be on North Tryon, and no longer in walking distance for us. We had dinner at Basil, which is one of our favorite Thai restaurants. The guys decided to watch the Alabama/LSU game on Saturday evening and I was apparently exhausted from the day, so I went to bed at 8:45. We constantly have the debate over whether or not I get TOO much sleep. I still say that’s not possible.

IMG_6757

Charles headed out after a very filling breakfast at Zada Janes. It was delicious but holy cow, those portions are GIGANTIC! I picked up our foster dog Daisy on Monday and brought her back to our house for the week. She’s a small lab/beagle mix at 45 lbs. She is the cuddliest, sweetest pup who just wants to be loved. I don’t think she was given a lot of positive attention in her last home. She has already met her forever family and will be going to live with them on Friday. I can’t say enough good things about Lucky Labs Rescue here in Charlotte. They are amazing to work with and we’ve loved both of our fosters from there. I highly recommend checking out the labs they have available if you’re in the market for a furever friend, or filling out an application if you don’t see one that works. They are great about working to find out what kind of dog you want and finding matches. Yay for Daisy and her forever home. Fostering is also a great way to check out dogs and see how they fit in your home. So happy for you, sweet girl!

Friends, Fireworks and the Fourth of July!

Hope everyone had an enjoyable 4th of July! We were fortunate to get to hang out with our friends, enjoy lots of sunshine and have a front-row seat for the fireworks (Thanks, Seth!). My husband wasn’t traveling this week since there was a holiday, so we got to spend lots of time together at home. We watched some funny movies, did some yardwork and took our boys to the Whitewater Center for a 3-mile hike. While I think his current job is a great career move, the boys and I miss him when he’s gone during the week and we’re thankful for the weeks when we get to have him at home with us.
run club

On Wednesday (the 2nd), I did NoDa Run Club in the sweltering heat. I ended up running 3.75 miles which was pretty good for me because I haven’t been focusing on my running lately. I joined a new HIIT gym and am hoping to see results from it that I’m no longer seeing from running.

runclub3

However, my love of running is pushing me to sign up for the distance challenge offered in Charlotte. It’s a combination of races, starting with a 5k and building up to a half marathon or full marathon. Clearly, I would do the half because I have no desire to do a full but I haven’t signed up just yet. Our boys donned their patriotic bandanas on our walks over the weekend and one obviously enjoyed it more than the other.

4thofjulydogs

On the 4th, we went to the Plaza Midwood Pig Pickin’ with two other couples and their adorable children. The weather was absolutely fantastic in Charlotte, so we had the perfect day to be hanging out outside.

4thofjulyfriendsGrown up jobs, kids (not ours!), and busy lives in general make it hard to get together as often as we’d all like, but we’re so thankful when we are all able hang out. I’m especially thankful for the friendship that these girls offer and that they live in Charlotte. Having had the same “best friends” for most of my life and not having any of them in Charlotte was tough when I first moved here; finding awesome friends who share common interests made the transition much easier!

4thofjulygirls

LW and I wore our most patriotic outfits for America’s birthday. This was the 8th photo that was taken of us before we finally nailed one where we were both smiling.

4thofjulyhubs

We headed over to our friend’s condo uptown as it started to get dark. We were given a front-row seat to the fireworks from his balcony. We arrived with Prosecco, chocolate chip cookies (with M&Ms) and patriotic cheesecake squares (I added blueberries for a red, white and blue treat!). We got there in time to see this stunning sunset over the new Knights stadium.

4thofjulysunset

The fireworks show was incredible. There were several times we thought it was over and then a new round of sparkly explosions would occur. The flood of people in the streets and from the stadium was incredible. We could see fireworks beyond the stadium as well, all over the city and surrounding areas there were pops of lights on the horizon. It was absolutely amazing – especially from that vantage point!

And I can’t forget to share this photo of two of my favorite people in Charlotte. Seth moved here around the same time as me (6 years ago!). He’s been such a good friend to me over the years and never fails to make me laugh. He introduced us to Scott and we quickly learned that Scott is also awesome and quite the chef!

4thofjulybffs

We managed to pack a ton of fun into our week and weekend together and I wouldn’t change a thing. We ate at several of our favorite local restaurants, went to a baseball game, and spent time with friends which was one of our “resolutions” for the new year (to do MORE of this and not say “no” when someone asks). Back to the grind today and waiting for the next holiday week…. is it Labor Day yet?

Happy Other Half

As I previously mentioned, my husband took a new job. This new job is such a great opportunity for him (proud wife right here!), but it will require him to travel 4 days a week. This means, I will only see him Thursday through Sunday. Only three weeks left to cram in as much “us” time as we can before he heads off on this exciting journey.

I love spending time with my husband. We actually joke quite often that we need more friends because we do a lot of things together that would probably be fun shared with friends. After 5 years together, most of which we’ve spent 95% of our waking time together (literally – working/living/working out/eating together), I feel pretty awesome about the fact that we still WANT to spend SO much time together. I think my husband is one of the funniest people I’ve met, he’s considerate, he’s a good listener, and he knows something about everything (helps keep the conversation going!). I consider us lucky to have that strong of a relationship – but it doesn’t come without work.

My husband is OCD about the house being clean – and I’m a little more relaxed about it (for lack of a better term). For instance, I’m okay making dinner, eating dinner and then watching some TV or a movie before we clean up. This does not work for my husband – the kitchen needs to be cleaned or he feels anxious. I know this – so I make a conscious effort to clean up post dinner. The same goes with our clutter catching ledge when you walk in the door – it’s so easy to lay mail, keys, or “stuff” down when you walk in the door, but equally as easy to hang up the keys, sort/trash the mail and put your empty lunch box in the cabinet. Knowing your other half’s pet peeves – and being attentive to them will help with keeping the relationship happy.

Another great way to make your other half happy is to sacrifice compromise on the things you do. We have very different taste in movies (and music). But instead of avoiding going to those things together, we tend to alternate. We have our musical groups that we both love and we always make a point to see those live: DMB, Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Amos Lee, Ben Harper; but we’ve both gone to concerts that we probably wouldn’t have if the other one wasn’t involved – Carrie Underwood and Jay Z are great examples. As far as movies go, I’m your typical sap. Who knows why girls love to cry in movies, but obviously my favorite movie induced emotions are laughing and crying. Romantic comedy? Perfect! Scary movie? No way, Jose! Luckily my husband isn’t a horror fan either, but he does enjoy sci-fi, Hobbit-type movies and some more gory movies than I do. At home, we alternate, and in theatres, we try to pick something that we’ll both like. Most recently, we rented Captain Phillips. Definitely not a romantic comedy, but I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time. Compromise is definitely a key to happiness in our relationship.

Getting out of the house is important for us, too. I tell people quite often that running is not just for my physical health, but mental. I can be quite the grump if I don’t get to run for a couple days in a row. Does anyone else get cabin fever after a few days in the house? We sure do! This year, we joined the Young Affiliates of the Mint (YAM) and have unlimited access to the museums in Charlotte, as well as are part of a group of young professionals (more friends!). We share a love of art and history, so this was the perfect group for us to join. We also love going to Charlotte’s beer festivals and checking out the craft beers offered in our city (food trucks are an added bonus!). Hanging out with friends is always nice, whether it’s dinner, live music, a get together at someone’s house or a kid’s birthday party (most of our Charlotte friends have at least one bundle of joy by now). And sometimes, doing things by ourselves is good for us. I enjoy shopping, doing crafts, and long runs. My husband enjoys live music (thank goodness for his friends who share his love for Metallica/Gaslight Anthem/JJ Grey & Mofro) and NFL games. We’re okay doing things solo on occasion.

Our favorite thing to do together is travel. Ever since we first started dating, we’ve been traveling. Our first ever trip was to the beach and Swansboro, NC. We’ve visited the opposite coast. We’ve visited the NFL Hall of Fame in Ohio. We’ve walked the Freedom Trail in Boston. We’ve explored the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh. We’ve biked around Jekyll Island in Georgia and saw wild horses on Cumberland Island. We’ve spent time enjoying the history of St. Augustine, FL. We’ve played on the beaches in Wilmington and the Outer Banks. We’ve marveled over the old trees in Savannah while carrying our drinks in our hands. We’ve run the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston. We’ve had wine in Temecula, CA and enjoyed the waterfront in San Diego. We’ve jumped to Enter Sandman in Lane Stadium. We’ve swam in the natural pool in Aruba. We often remember dinners, events or experiences that happened on these trips and smile. Having experienced these things together only brings us closer, and leaves us looking forward to our next adventure.

I am so thankful that I met this man and get to share my life with him. I am dedicated to making sure we always work on our happiness and our love and our marriage. There’s a saying that “you are only as happy as your unhappiest child.” Obviously we don’t have children, but if one half of the couple is unhappy, the other one can’t be all smiles and full of joy. I’m not trying to imply that life can always be all cotton candy and candy apples, but you can certainly aim for the highest level of happiness and then even on your “bad” days, you’ll be able to pull out something positive, right? This requires working together, working for each other’s best interest and giving 110% everyday. It’s a lot to ask, but isn’t it worth it?

 

Hungry hearts and happy bellies!

One of my favorite things to do with my husband is go out to dinner – especially if we’re trying a new place. This is our “us” time – without TVs, phones, dogs, or really any interruptions other than a waitress checking in. He’s definitely more adventurous with the things he’ll eat (rabbit, veal, sea urchin, foie gras…), but I do love exploring new menu options. We made a deal with each other to try at least one new place in Charlotte each month when we found ourselves becoming too routine in going to our “usual places.”  Since we made this commitment (pre-2014), we’ve done a good job of sticking to it. We went to Dandelion Market (Try the surf & turf), 5 Church, Queen City Q (delicious BBQ & smoked wings), and Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar (get the wild mushroom ‘za).We’ve been pleased with all of the experiences thus far.

We started a discussion around our Top 10 list with my in-laws, trying to determine where our favorite meals were created. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Elizabeth’s on 37th (Savannah, GA): the whole experience was charming and the food was delightful!

2. Fearrington House (Pittsboro, NC): Try the hot chocolate soufflé to end your evening. Recently ranked on USA Today for wine list and CN Traveler for best hotel and restaurant, and Open Table’s #8 restaurant in America!

3. Poogan’s Porch (Charleston, SC): You can’t go wrong with fried chicken in the South, with spicy collards on the side of course.

4. Eleven (Pittsburgh, PA): Best pork chop I’ve ever had. And the most adorable/delicious after dinner truffle.

5. Seer Sucker (San Diego, CA): First place I tried fish, and I loved it so much that I eat it on the regular now.

6. Passion8 Bistro (Charlotte, NC): Farm to table and table to full, happy tummy. We have loved every part of every locally sourced dinner at Passion8. Excited to hear about their move to the Elizabeth neighborhood in 2014.

7. Halcyon (Charlotte, NC): As much as we love the food at Halcyon, the drinks are what we really rave about. Their mixologist is insanely creative. I recommend the Southern Grit Bowl if you go for brunch (Geechie Boy Mill Grits. Pork Belly. Pimento. Greens. Poached Egg).

8. The Palisades (Eggleston, VA): This hidden gem is truly surprising in it’s atmosphere and delivery of high quality food. It’s on the outskirts of Blacksburg (Go Hokies!) and provides an eloquent yet rustic dining experience.

9. Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint (Atlanta, GA): Another delicious Southern meal full of fried goodness, hearty sides and live music. Doesn’t get much better than that!

10. The Fig Tree (Charlotte, NC): Fine dining just outside of uptown Charlotte. Top notch dining experience with to-die-for menu options. The perfect place for a romantic dinner.

This list was harder than I thought to make! We’ve obviously been lucky enough to eat a lot of delicious meals. A few more of my faves are Manna (Wilmington, NC), ONE (Chapel Hill, NC), Divine Prime (Myrtle Beach, NC) best steak I’ve ever had, Toast (Charleston, SC): Go for brunch and get a cucumber bloody mary!, Magnolias (Charleston, SC), Catch 27 (St. Augustine, FL), CODA (Boston, MA): Try the mussels, Lolitas (Boston, MA): you get tequila on ice upon arrival, Viet Thai Noodle House (Charlotte, NC): try the Pho, Atlantic Fish (Boston, MA): Try the cioppino.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite restaurants! In addition to trying new places, we plan to continue traveling as much as possible this year and we’d love to check out exciting new food in those destinations. Cheers!

PS – you can friend me on Yelp to see all of my reviews, check ins and delicious photos!

Charlotte Wedding Insider

Charlotte brides, you don’t want to miss what’s happening tonight! A panel of top professionals will be answering all of YOUR questions about your big day. It’s the kind of thing you just HAVE to go to… where else can you get free advice on photographers and videographers? (Do you need them?) or what about the food? (Can you skimp anywhere?). What about renting your decor instead of buying it all (good or bad idea?). Come out tonight to find out – and have drinks and appetizers on Carolina Bride. No need to RSVP, just show up and bring a pal (or all of your bridesmaids!) if you’d like. It’s sure to be a good time!
Carolina_Bride

Tuesday, April 9th at 6:30 PM at Charlotte City Club. Sponsored by Carolina Bride and 96.1 Ace & TJ.
More details at www.charlotteweddinginsider.com.

Update on our fabulous St. Augustine getaway, dealing with vendors and a honeymoon surprise to come later this week! Stay tuned and have a marvelous Tuesday!

Feeling Lucky

Last week, I traveled through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama for work. I started in Knoxville, Tennessee with one heck of a tour of the city (a $35 cab ride) from my awesome cabbie. I treated myself to breakfast in bed on day 2 in Nashville – because hey, I deserve it. On Thursday, I left one of my running shoes at our hotel in Mississippi (this is a place I NEVER have to go again and I’ll be perfectly happy!) – so I bought new shoes when I got to Alabama and took a little run around the Ross Bridge area to scope it out. I’m sure you can imagine how excited I was to arrive back home in Charlotte on Friday.photo2However, as I was sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta waiting for my connection to Charlotte, my mom called and told me I needed to come home to see my Paw Paw. My Paw Paw is not just any paw paw – he has really been more like a father to me and my brother, and is undoubtedly one of the most important men in my life. My sweet fiance picked me up at the airport, coffee mugs filled and snacks on hand and we drove 3 hours to Virginia. We didn’t get there until after my sweet Paw Paw was asleep but we saw him and got all the details. We spent lots of time with him on Saturday (most of which he was feeling much better!). I kept telling him he had to get better so he can be at my wedding (I’m tearing up writing this) and he promised he would. He also apparently told everyone that the hydrangea plant that was sent to him needed to be kept alive for my wedding (seriously? I love him).

So it was an exhausting week + weekend, and we missed our food tasting on Saturday. But family comes first – so we were in Virginia instead of South Carolina. We also delayed our meeting with our vendor for tables, chairs and linens that was scheduled for today, just to make sure everything is still improving. We came across “Luck Ave” while in Roanoke, Virginia – and boy could I use some luck! We enjoyed some green beers for St. Patty’s on Sunday at our fave local restaurant – Harry’s, took our boys to Lake Wylie for a long walk and chance to put their feet in the water and the best part, we came home to find these adorable forks had arrived complete with a stamp of our wedding date! (Less than 5 months, folks!!!). You can see all the pictures from my travels last week and our adventures in Roanoke, VA this past weekend on Instagram.
photo1 Although I wasn’t expecting any major set-backs in my planning (or family emergencies), I think we handled this one pretty well and nothing has been majorly impacted at this time. We confirmed our florist and mailed off a deposit and also booked a day-of coordinator (more to come on this!). And most of all, I feel completely lucky to have had such an amazing person by my side through this entire ordeal!

How have you dealt with wedding planning set-backs?

Birthday Blog

As promised, here is an update on my FABULOUS birthday weekend. Many thanks to all those who texted, emailed, called, tweeted or Facebooked to wish me a wonderful day!
bday7

I woke up to my beau making me breakfast, complete with hot apple cider (best Keurig K-cup yet!). I had to have a birthday workout, so he informed me that when I returned we should get ready to keep up with all the plans he had for our day. But when I returned, I walked into present heaven! I got a new pearl necklace, bracelet and a fancy jewelry box to keep them in. I can say this about him, he’s always listening when I say I want something. He got the exact strand of pearls I was wishing for!
bday 3

We went to the Mint Museum uptown to explore their wood work collection… but not before stopping by Halcyon for a light lunch. Halcyon has creative meals and drinks, that they try to create with all local products. It truly is a gem to have here in Charlotte. We greatly enjoy their drinks and the food has been good the few times I’ve actually eaten there. We shared a cheese plate and some chicken & collards soup on Saturday, since we were preparing for a delicious, surprise dinner.
bday2bday6
We explored the Mint for a few hours before popping in Aquavina for a pre-dinner drink. And then my surprise dinner… at Bernardin’s! This place is special to us because it used to be Ratcliffe on the Green. We had a very special and romantic 6-month anniversary dinner there and we really fell in love with the place, the atmosphere and our waiter, Asa. Bernardin’s is slightly different but still delicious. We very much enjoyed every aspect of our meals. The butternut squash soup was delicious!
bday5
A very wonderful birthday weekend… and my sweet in-laws (soon-to-be) sent me these gorgeous roses that I am still getting to look at every day! How was YOUR weekend?
bday1