30 Before 30

It hit me this past weekend that I’m almost 30. For so long, 30 seemed old. Now it’s kind of the new 20 (but you go to bed earlier and can’t drink as much). It’s funny that at 18, I thought I would have been married for at least 5 years by now, and have a couple of kids, living in Raleigh, NC, and have a house-full of dogs, too. Even at 22, I thought I’d have kids by now.

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But we don’t. Instead, we have our two furbabies that I treat like kids (we celebrated Tucker’s 8th birthday this weekend with a trip to Petsmart for new toys that he picked out, a big belly rub and cuddle-sesh mid-morning, a long walk with the whole family and then cupcakes after dinner).

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At almost 30, I think we’ll definitely have a kid by the time 32 rolls around for me (35 for my husband), maybe even two – but we’re not in a hurry. First we want to travel more, starting with our European vacation this summer and South Africa next spring. Knocking a few more things off the list before we change up our lives completely.

birthday1I have always LOVED celebrating birthdays (or any other random holiday, or reason I can find to celebrate). Some of my favorite birthdays have been spent having large gatherings with friends, or visiting beaches with my husband (this year we did Key West). I was inspired by a few lists/challenges I’ve seen others doing to knock things off of a somewhat “bucket list” before they turn 30.

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Emily Thomas, author of Em For Marvelous is doing a 60 before 30 list. Some girls I went to college with are trying to rack up 30 race medals before they turn 30. I think I’ll stick with being my random self and doing just 30 different things before I turn 30.

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30 before 30

  1. Do 3 more 10k runs (equaling 30k) — 2nd goal? Get my sister-in-law to run one with me.
  2. Volunteer for 30 hours with a charity (or multiple charities)
  3. Do 30 hours of yoga
  4. Visit Paris
  5. Visit London
  6. Visit Ireland
  7. Foster (3) dogs (if I said 30, I might be getting divorced before I turn 30, so we’ll stick with 3)
  8. Go to Charleston
  9. Go to Savannah
  10. Read 30 books
  11. Write 30 blog posts
  12. Go on a tropical vacation (I’m thinking Costa Rica, Belize, Turks & Caicos, San Juan…)
  13. Take a cooking class
  14. Help 5 more items be crossed off the Pretty in Pink bucket lists
  15. Celebrate our two year wedding anniversary (and 6 year dating anniversary)
  16. Visit Tonya in Colorado
  17. Go zip-lining
  18. Have an album with our wedding/anniversary pictures created
  19. Run another half marathon | Hokie Half | Jekyll Island Half | Savannah Half
  20. Pay off another student loan
  21. Re-organize our master closet
  22. Get a porch swing (or my grandfather’s glider)
  23. Learn how to use my SLR in manual
  24. Learn how to do calligraphy (I have the class paid for, all the materials…. time?)
  25. See Florence + the Machine in concert
  26. Spend a weekend with my BFF Sarah
  27. Meet my BFF Brittney’s new son, Holden
  28. Go whitewater rafting
  29. Eat more tomatoes from our garden than the squirrels do this year
  30. Get my thesis published

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I know some of these items are technically already planned, and that’s okay. I need to follow thru with them. I’m excited to tackle these things in the next 10 months, and to continue working on saying ‘yes’ when people ask us to do things (instead of eating in our neighborhood and binge watching House of Cards), being more patient with people, trying to be more timely / not 5 minutes late to everything in life, and crushing it at work.

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The last one is tough for me because I’ve gotten in a groove and I feel pretty good at my job, I’m recognized for doing a good job and I’m in a good place. There have been some opportunities lately that I’ve looked into but they’ve all asked that I move to Boston if offered the job and I just don’t want to move to Boston. I LOVE Charlotte. I love our life here. I love our friends here. I love our house here. I love how close we are to both of our families. And I know that if I move there, I won’t have the chance to move back here and stay with the same company (most likely – things change!). NC feels like home to us. For the right opportunity, we might consider moving, but right now I’m in a good spot, and I’m okay. I don’t need a career change. So… yeah. Onto tackling my 30 before 30 list. I will update as items are able to be marked off.

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I’m still trying to raise money to help cancer champions mark items off of their bucket lists, you can read more and donate here. I heard about another lady in NC trying to do a similar thing (on a larger scale) and I am going to try to combine forces with her. Stay tuned!

Be Spontaneous

GIVEAWAY IS STILL HAPPENING – ENTER HERE!

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My husband and I saw that one of our favorite bands was going to be within 4 hours of us (they haven’t been to Charlotte yet!), so we scooped up tickets and booked a hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee for the following weekend. We realized that we would be going right through Asheville, NC on the way and made plans to stop in for lunch and a stroll.

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First stop was at Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB) for some beer and lunch. We walked around a little beforehand but quickly decided on a place when our hunger set in. This place had a creative menu, craft beer and no wait. Triple winner.

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We each got soup (roasted pepper bisque with cilantro oil for me, stew for him) and then split a couple small plates (or ridiculously large portion of bison nachos).

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After loading up on some dried lavender from the Herbiary shop, we started the second leg of our trip to Knoxville. I searched for bears on the mountainside while my husband drove.

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We had a great view of Knoxville from our hotel. My only experiences with Knoxville previously were one short stay for work two years ago (oddly enough, same hotel), and many stops through on my way as a kid from VA to Nashville to visit my cousin. I had no idea what Knoxville was really like!

IMG_1051We had about a half mile walk into the ‘Old City’ area, where we had planned to have dinner. I took this opportunity to play with the art in the city.

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Dogs? YES. Also, can I get a replica of this for our yard?

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The old city area was ADORABLE. It was bustling with people who were watching March Madness games, heading to our same concert and just out and about. The place we really wanted to go (Stock and Barrel) had a two hour wait. They served s’mores and nutella milkshakes which sounded amazing, so I debated on this wait for all of three seconds before realizing it was absurd to wait that long. Next time, Stock and Barrel, next time.

IMG_1064We ended up at Not Watsons, which was delicious. My husband had chicken and waffles, which I found to be amazing. His only complaint was that it was chicken tenders versus a whole breast. That syrup though!

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I got a black bean, kale and avocado wrap which was also amazing and healthy. I felt pretty good about that choice after seeing how heavy the chicken and waffles were (but again, they were delicious). After dinner, we headed towards the Tennessee Theatre for our show.

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The inside of the theatre was intricate and beautiful. And the sound…. wow. It sounded incredible. The openers were surprisingly good, although new to the scene.

IMG_1089Alabama Shakes were everything we expected and more. Brittany’s voice is even more incredible than it sounds on their records. I loved watching her on stage. She’s so passionate and full of energy and just totally rocked that place. It was definitely worth the four hour drive.

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We figured we might as well explore UT’s campus while we were there and check out the football stadium. It was pretty impressive in size (compared to Virginia Tech’s Lane Stadium) but the design looked industrial and uninviting.IMG_1124
I’m sure it gets pretty rowdy in there and clearly people love going to games but aesthetically it’s not the best looking stadium.

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But it’s always fun to check out other stadiums when we’re in town. Looking forward to the UT/VT game in Bristol! GO HOKIES.

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We made our mid-morning commute back to Asheville with plans to stop in for lunch again. We walked around a little, enjoyed some street music and then grabbed some burgers at Jack of the Wood.

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No pictures of the food because we devoured it but we did decide to make a stop in French Broad Chocolate Lounge for some dessert.

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And I snapped pictures before we scarfed it down. We couldn’t decide on one thing (or even one thing EACH) so we picked three small items to share and the hubs got some coffee for the ride home.

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I loved our weekend getaway and roadtrip. We saw so many things in so little time. We had amazing food, heard great music, and had lots of time together. spontaneity worked out for us on this one – now maybe I can convince my husband to take that spontaneous trip to Belize, Honduras or Costa Rica? *Wishful Thinking* But I can say that we both thoroughly enjoyed this trip!

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Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to support breast cancer champions!

Guestbook Giveaway + Life Update

Whew! It’s February and I haven’t blogged in HOW MANY days? Sorry about that. I had TWO trips planned to Boston in that time and both were cancelled due to the massive amounts of snow that have been dumped on the Northeast. Seriously, MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF SNOW. So work has been a little crazy to say the least.

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On top of that, I’ve had some fun appointments for swollen lymph nodes that WON’T GO AWAY but aren’t anything deadly (unless you ask WebMD), so there’s that. However, my throat hurts and we still don’t know what is causing them to swell. So 3 rounds of blood work, a CT, ultrasound and two ENTs later, I still have swollen lymph nodes and no answers. But sore throat = ice cream, so I still consider myself to be winning!

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Yesterday, I had to drop my big guy off at the vet for a dental cleaning and to have a mass removed from his elbow. I cried like a baby when I left. It’s what I imagine leaving your child at daycare for the first time feels like. Yes, I just compared having a dog to having a baby. It was awful and I was a wreck for most of the day. Especially when they called me and told me that he was getting ready to have his surgery and I could hear him barking in the background. Everything went fine and he’s back home and resting peacefully with his cone of shame. We’re just waiting on his test results now.

Customized Wedding Guest Book
Customized Wedding Guest Book

Since there were only two entries in the latest giveaway, I decided not to post the video I made of me drawing the winner (it was yesterday and I may or may not have had mascara smeared under my eyes after dropping Tucker off at the vet). Our big winner is Heather P! And since there were only two gals who entered, I decided to also give Ariel something. So I’ll be sending her the “Say Yes to New Adventures” 2015 planner. It will definitely help with wedding planning! Anything to stay more organized.

Image from Nude and Loitering Tees
Image from Nude and Loitering Tees

Thank you to both of you for entering. I will be doing giveaways for the other items in the coming weeks. I’m so pleased with the progress we’ve made on helping these ladies cross items off their bucket lists. Right now, I’m waiting on Beverly to select a 5k to run and we’ll pay for her entry and I’m working with some paddle boarding (SUP) and kayaking companies in Wilmington to help mark a few more items off of other lists. Sadly, Janet, one of the women I saw at the Pretty in Pink Fashion Walk, passed away in January. Her story touched everyone in the room. She was brave and strong and loved her son deeply. I hope we see the day where there’s a cure and women like Janet get to do all the things in life they want to, like take their kids to Disney World and watch them grow up and get married and to spend a lifetime growing old with her husband. I really hate cancer.

Cheers to a New Year!

It’s always exciting to look back and reflect on our year as it comes to a close. 2014 followed one of our most exciting years, the one where we got married. This year was full of travel (both work and pleasure), weddings for dear friends, new challenges, exciting moments (buying a house), my husband finishing grad school and of course, our first year of marriage. Tomorrow we’ll go through our “Good Things jar” and reminisce on the year and our best times! Here’s a quick recap:

Year in Review 2014-2

A few things not mentioned:

  • I wrote three articles that were published in Charlotte Happenings, a local magazine through the Charlotte Regional Visitor’s Authority (CRVA)
  • My husband finished his Master’s degree through Northeastern University (we’ll be heading to Boston to celebrate in 2015)
  • I was offered a teaching job at a community college for Communication courses (due to work travel I couldn’t swing it this year, but maybe in the future)
  • I only ran two races this year, but spent almost all of my Wednesday nights this summer at NoDa Brewing’s run club with my (new) girlfriends
  • I started a book club with some really awesome girls that I look forward to seeing each month
  • We saw some really awesome concerts
  • We watched the Hokies beat UNC and Duke
  • We grew a really awesome garden with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumbers and herbs (AND A LEMON TREE!)

Some of our favorite trips were to Ponte Vedra Beach, Ocean Isle, Annapolis, St. Martin and Chicago. We also loved our trips to Boston but we were too busy frolicking around and eating that I apparently forgot to document us being there!

We fostered some really awesome dogs this year (and only fell in love with one of them!). I also began managing the Twitter feed for a local rescue group and have grown our following. Fostering saves lives like the ones above. It’s a great way to help out if you’re not sure you want to adopt. If you can’t foster, helping out at adoption events on the weekends or transporting dogs are both great ways to help out.

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I’m beyond grateful for our sweet friend, Sarah, who took our anniversary photos for us. And I’m even more grateful for this guy and everything he did to make this year amazing. 2014 was another wonderful year and I’m looking forward to all that 2015 brings. Off to ring it in with some fun friends and my favorite husband! Wishing you a happy and healthy 2015!

Sneaking away to St. Martin

During the week of Labor Day, we hopped on a plane to St. Martin for a relaxing getaway. The trip started off on a good note when we were bumped to first class on our US Airways flight and had the most wonderful flight attendant (Judy) waiting on us on our 3.5 hour flight to SXM.

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Since the planes land on the Dutch side of the island (St. Maarten), we got a tour of island in our taxi ride to our resort – The Grand Case Beach Club. It was nestled between picturesque mountains and turquoise water right there on the beach (or two beaches: Le Petit Plage and Grand Case Beach).

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We had a stunning view of Creole Rock, and even spent one afternoon snorkeling there with some amazing rainbow parrot fish, eels, and about a gazillion more caribbean fish species. It was some of the best snorkeling we’ve ever done.

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Our resort offered kayaking, sailing, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and snorkeling right off the beach, too. We spent an entire morning exploring the gorgeous water in front of the hotel and just for the record, I only fell off my board ONCE. (Fact: SUP requires some serious balance and core strength, and your feet will hurt afterwards from holding on).

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Each morning we went to the restaurant on site for our continental breakfast. My favorite was of course the chocolate croissant. I actually took my Shakeology with me on this trip so that I could remain somewhat healthy (and I embarked on my attempt to be vegetarian for a month on 9/1). Listening to the waves was so tranquil and such a relaxing way to start our mornings.

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We ventured into Grand Case (the best culinary experiences on the island) for dinner most nights. Our favorite spots were Le Cottage and La Villa, although we also had a lovely creole experience where the chef was also the owner and took plenty  of time to come out and just chat with us. The food was nothing short of spectacular on this trip.

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We ventured out to Orient Bay Beach one day, which is the famous nude beach on the island. However, since we were there in September, it was the “off season” and all the nudists stayed home. We pretty much had the run of the place while we were there and dined at an excellent beach restaurant before setting up in some chairs just steps away from a bar for the rest of the afternoon.

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Our resort was totally gated and had security guards walking around at all times which made it feel very safe. We were upgraded upon arrival there to a suite style condo with bed/bath upstairs, and living room, kitchen and another bathroom downstairs. Our patio led right out to an overlook over the beach (the stairs were no more than 5 feet away). We also had an upstairs balcony which provided amazing views of the island. The pool at the resort was one of the prettiest set ups I’ve seen, just dreamy!

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While we’re talking safety, nothing happened to us while we were there but upon asking advice on a couple trips we were thinking of taking on our own, I was told, “Just don’t take anything with you.” There was also a “theft insurance” charge for renting cars on the island and parts of it were not very well lit. That being said, the locals left us alone. Only once (on Orient Bay Beach) were we asked if we wanted to purchase something. Philipsburg was more touristy and probably the least safe place we went for that reason.

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In Philipsburg, we had lunch before walking around. It was gorgeous on the water. The shopping area was your typical Caribbean shopping area which owners out front asking you to come in and a few peddlers on the beach asking you to purchase their items. We didn’t spend TOO much time there before we headed off to Maho Bay beach to see the planes land. Since Maho Bay is also on the Dutch side where the casinos are, we popped into one while we were there. My (risk adverse) husband won while playing poker and immediately quit playing, so we weren’t there for more than 45 minutes before we headed back to Grand Case.

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Their signature drink on the island is the Guavaberry Colada since they have a guava berry rum factory on the island. Each restaurant offered their own specialty after-dinner (or lunch) rum. Some of the flavors we tried were caramel, banana, coconut and a delicious mixture of coconut rum, grenadine and pineapple juice.

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We very much enjoyed our trip to St. Martin and would recommend the French side to anyone going to visit. However, if you’re still deciding where to visit, our vote is Aruba. Aruba is still our favorite island. The friendliness of the people is unmatched (and they’re all so incredibly intelligent). Not for one second on the island did we feel unsafe, even when we walked or biked the .75 miles back from the high rise area at night. While Aruba has a desert climate and St. Martin has a tropical climate, we didn’t mind the heat and no humidity in Aruba. It never rains in Aruba (it only rained on us once in St. Martin). Aruba had happy hour which we loved, St. Martin did not. The food was amazing in both places but Aruba holds a special place in our hearts. If we had a free trip back to either of these islands, we would undoubtedly choose Aruba.

Wanderlust!

Last week, I mentioned how much my husband and I love to travel together. In our first three weeks of dating, we took a trip to the beach and the quaint town of Swansboro on North Carolina’s coast, and we visited Cleveland for a wedding (but took the opportunity to explore while there!). When we got married, we discussed our future travel plans and agreed on one BIG domestic U.S. trip a year and one BIG international trip a year. Coming up with “where” to go was the hard part.

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I created a board on Pinterest to capture all the places that I would like to visit. Italy, Colorado, Galapagos Islands, Maldives? Yes, please! While flying home from Aruba, we each made a list of 10 international and 10 domestic travel destinations and compared. Ireland was at the top of both of our lists. (Of course, travel has to be done within reason, and within your means. This pin is helpful for budgeting appropriately for travel). So, our plans for this year were AUSTIN, TX (domestic) and IRELAND/LONDON (international – and while we’re paying to fly that far, why not kill two birds with one stone?).

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Jamaica/2010

We’ve had Ireland on our bucket list for a while now and we thought this would be the year; however, with the rest of our friends getting married and buying a new house, it looks like it will be going on the back burner until 2015 (or until we win the lottery – whichever happens first). Austin was also on our list for this year and coincidentally enough, we were invited to a wedding in Austin. However, my husband is in a different wedding and will be at the bachelor party that weekend. I am majorly bummed over this one but I know we can’t do everything.

San Diego/2011
San Diego/2011

So here’s what we are doing this year: Boston, Indianapolis, Weston & Woburn (Mass), Ponte Vedra Beach (Florida), Maryland, Blacksburg, Ocean Isle Beach, Wilmington (NC), Richmond, and I’m sure a handful of other places. International probably isn’t going to happen this year between the new house and my husband’s job requiring weekly travel. I’m okay with that since we bought the cutest house ever and I’ll spend that traveling money for decorating.

Aruba/2014
Aruba/2014

However, travel is one of our “things.” It really is a big part of our life and we love those trips, whether long or short. So while we’re hunkering down and doing house things, we still need to make room in our schedule for those mini beach vacations, or spontaneous trips (ie: Alabama Shakes in Charleston), and do the things that make us happy while we work on making our new house our home.

Jekyll Island, GA/2012
Jekyll Island, GA/2012

I’d love to hear what’s on your travel bucket list – or places we should add to ours!

Groom’s Gift

We are now less than 40 days out from our wedding and all of the little details are adding up. I have so many things left to do (and more that come up every day!). Picking songs, finalizing our vows (and writing my part!), ordering the programs, and still, all of those wonderful DIY craft projects that I have yet to start. One of my biggest “to-do’s” right now is finding a gift for my groom – or at the very least, coming up with the idea for what to buy!

I was pretty set on getting a watch for him with something sweet engraved on the back, and I think that’s a pretty traditional gift for grooms. I know of at least three brides that have given watches to their new husband on the day of the wedding. Searching for this on the internet didn’t really provide any additional insight.
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A friend told me she got her husband-to-be an iPad, but my Apple-loving groom already has one. Another idea was luggage for all of the traveling that we will do. Of course, I envision a great big monogram or possibly his name embroidered on a duffle bag, but I fear he might roll his eyes on that one.

So, alas, I am clueless. I have no more ideas on what to possibly buy him that will have meaning and also be of use to him. I know this is a gift that should have more meaning behind it than necessarily the value or practical use of it, but I do love giving practical gifts. Now, I need all the former brides out there to rally and tell me your best ideas for a gift for my darling groom. Ready, set, go!
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