Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas List Organization

How do you all organize your Christmas shopping list? 
I use the notes section in Outlook and on my phone (they sync together).  Without this, I'd be toast! 
This quick list makes it so easy that when I think of a gift throughout the year to get, I put it right in my phone next to the person's name so when Christmas shopping comes around, it is right there.  After I've bought the gift, I type "bought" by it.  When I ship it to out of town family, I type "shipped" by it. 
Best part is in future years, I can look back at what I bought for each person and not do a repeat gift.  I have from year 2009 list on still stored in my phone. 
It's definitely easy organization and may be the reason I was basically done Christmas shopping by the first of November this year. 
I think next week I'm going to put some gift idea lists together but for now, here is a Ladies Gift Guide and a Guys Gift Guide from last year!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Every Accident

When I first started driving at age 11, my Dad always told me, "every accident is your fault."
And yes, I did start driving at an early age.  He took me to the church parking lot.  And then out on back roads.  I'm a firm believer it's why I know how to drive decently now.  ;)  Mom probably didn't agree with him letting me drive that early but she also probably didn't know all the details back then haha! 
Anyway, when Dad was in college, he worked for UPS loading boxes on the night shift.  You see, Dad put himself through college.  He worked many jobs while doing so.  He also took care of his mother and dated my Mom throughout.  He now owns his own business and has for quite some time.  To say he's someone who I greatly admire would be an understatement. 
Side note: Kevin also worked at UPS when he was in college.  We like to giggle about how much he and my Dad were alike.  Kevin also worked three jobs at once while in school. 
Back to driving.  I was standing in line with my Mom at the DMV at 7:59am on my 16th birthday ready to roll!  Got my license and I was outta there! 
Ole pops kept telling me "every accident is your fault."  That's what they taught him at UPS.  Do you know they have a rigorous program they put those guys through?  Anyway, I kept arguing with Dad like well what if this happens like this then that SURELY isn't my fault.  And he'd keep telling me what I should have done to prevent the accident.  And looking back, he always made sense! 
 - slow down
 - drive for the people behind you, to the sides of you and in front of you
 - anticipate
 - be defensive
 - look forward but always know where the traffic is around you
 - never follow closely, allow yourself reaction time
 - don't sit in people's blind spots
Now I still argue that what if I'm at a dead stop at a stop light minding my own biz and some car comes out of nowhere and rear ends me.  Oh, I guess I should have known that it was about to happen and moved to the side or go through the red light if no cars were coming so the person couldn't hit me.  Hmmm, maybe Dad can comment on that one. 
But, I do agree that you can pretty much prohibit most accidents.  After reading this post, do you all find yourselves saying, "I don't agree with that.  Or, but what about definitely wasn't my fault."  I know, I know.  If you believe you can pretty much prohibit most accidents, maybe it'll make us all drive a little more defensively.
Drive carefully!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Top Priorities

We have been so bogged down with "house stuff" that we have hardly done much on the wedding recently. 
But it's coming up so quickly.  I think everyone will be shocked on January 1st when they look ahead and realize we're getting married in 96 days.  There isn't much time.
Top three priorities at the moment:
1.  Most importantly I'm trying to gather middle names and updated addresses for our guest list.  I have to get this back from each of our Mom's by the end of the year so they can be sent to calligraphy.  It's hard to believe invitations will be sent out the first week of February so getting these addresses finalized is essential. 
2.  Mom needs to finalize REASONABLE flowers.  The space where the reception in is already so pretty, it really doesn't need much.  And flowers die the next day.  This is low on my priority list and always has been.  We're meeting with the florist in February.
3.  We need to figure out what we are doing with the food and bar package.  The bill for our reception is insane and I just need to be practical and skinny this down.  Open bar versus by the drink etc...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Black Friday

Who goes out on Black Friday to get the deals?
I'm not one of the diehards that goes out on Thanksgiving night (which in my opinion is ridiculous that any store makes their employees come in) or at 4am.  But Mom and I do go out usually around 7am and still get some good early bird deals. 
This year, we were on our best behavior and didn't go too crazy. 
We went to the mall first which is always a smart decision.  Past 10am, I cannot take the mall.  It's just too crazy.  Mom told me this year I was getting old by not wanting to deal with it.  These are the places we went in the mall.
Belk - Random deals
Vineyard Vines - Buy 3, get 4th item free
Gap - 40% off what I got
J.Crew - 25% off the whole store
Lilly - just a good sale section
Ann Taylor Loft - 50% off the whole store
Then we went to other places that aren't nearly as hectic:
Jos A Bank - early bird specials before 1pm
Williams Sonoma - just had to return a couple of things but got a steal on steak knives
Bedside Manor - my favorite bedding and bath place ever
Michaels - got a bow made
Marshalls - no special deals that I saw
Home Goods - just wanted to show Mom
and eventually Wal-Mart later that afternoon to return some things.
We didn't get something at every store but did enjoy checking things out.  It's rare that Mom and I get to shop together so it's always a treat no matter at 7am or 3pm. 
Tell me your Black Friday routine or maybe you don't have one?!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and we hope you did too!  This is a peak inside of our holiday!
After a few years ago in 2009 when Mom and I cooked for just she, Dad and I, we knew there had to be another way without a million leftovers.  In 2010, we went to McCormick and Schmicks after the Thanksgiving parade in uptown Charlotte.  That was delish.  In 2011, we went to the club with Kevin's parents - amazing. 
This year - we repeated last years - went to his parent's club for dinner at "high noon!"  And boy was it amazing!
Putting some shades on Kendall!
 Brittany, Joe and Kendall!  Today is her FIRST birthday!  Happy Birthday sweet niece!
Kevin's family and my family minus my brother, SIL and two nieces.

My parents with Kev and I.  I love this picture of the four of us.  This reminds me, I need to get some new pictures printed for "our" house.  All the pictures in there now are of my family and friends.  It needs to be "our" family and friends!
Kevin's Dad and my Dad!

Comparing guts after a big dinner.
Can't forget ole Mills.  My parents brought him a couple chew/teething toys and this super cute Santa hat.  We need to get better pictures of him in it ASAP because it isn't going to fit his big head in another week!
Poppa with a sleeping Mills.  I love this with the Golden Retriever blanket in the background. 
We worked ALL weekend on the house from Wednesday afternoon when my parents got into town until Sunday at 11:30am when they left.  Non stop - 7am-11pm.  Every day. 
They were SOOOOOOOOOOO helpful.  Don't know what we'd do without them!
I did make a couple of meals along the way.  Wednesday night we had to let my parents try Cantina 1511 for the first time.  Friday night we had leftover BBQ, Pioneer Woman's mac and cheese and a salad.  Saturday night I made PW's Beef with Snow Peas and a salad.  All was hearty and just right after a big day of work.  For appetizers I did a cheese plate one day with the cranberry goat cheese from Trader Joes.  Yum, pick some up.  Another cocktail hour time I made PW's Restaurant Style Salsa.  Delish. 
I can't even begin to tell you what we got done on the house because it was so much but let me try to list some things out so I have it on record:
1.  Dad and Kevin did the wiring for the TV and stereo.  This was a huge project.  We now have a TV over the mantle (not really a fan of over the mantel but we have no choice with how the room is laid out).  The cable and electricity weren't in the right place so Dad had to cut holes, patch old ones, repaint, fish wires through the wall, run miles of speaker wire. But it's done.
2.  They cleaned the inside and outside of windows and put some screens back on.
3.  Dad fixed our mailbox.
4.  Hung CO2 and smoke detectors.
Checking out the kitchen island. ha!
5.  Took Mills out a million times a day.
6.  Mom styled our bookshelves which needed help in a big way.
7.  Mom and I (mostly Mom) made a wreath.  She also designed a little arrangement for our mailbox.  I'll have to show you all of my Christmas decorations soon.  She has such good taste. 
8.  We got a wreath for Kevin's office door and put it up. 
9.  We decided on paint stuff.  This was finished up today.
Had to take some things back to Avenue that the buyer wanted.  Weird.
10.  Mom and I shopped on Black Friday.
11.  Dad fixed toilets and tried to get more flow out of shower heads.
12.  Dad installed our new dishwasher. 
13.  Mom and I wrapped Christmas gifts.
Using his shop vac Santa brought him early.
14.  Dad set up timers on our outdoor Christmas spot lights on the front door.
15.  We washed the inside and outside of all four of our outdoor lights.  This was a bigger task than one would think.  We also replaced light bulbs.
16.  We cleaned the chandelier in the dining room and took some wax catcher things off of it.  I'll have to do a before and after photo of it.  This actually made a big difference.
Dead asleep.
Gosh I know we did more than this but this is a good start.  We had a LONG list of stuff to do and we got it all mostly done.  Now I just need to finish bleaching grout in the bathrooms and polish all of my silver.  I finished putting up the Dickens Village last night.
Thank you to my parents for helping us SO much.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Today I'm thankful for:
1.  Kevin, my family and his family.
2.  That my parents are arriving in Charlotte today!  I CANNOT wait!!!!!
3.  Warm home, comfy bed and food on the table.
4.  My friends (including blog friends!)!
5.  Time spent with others.
6.  A job I love to go to every day.
7.  Everyone I work with - they're like a second family to me.
8.  Maker's Mark. ;)  Essential to any Thanksgiving weekend!
9.  Ability to have the wedding of our dreams!
10.  MILLS!  Our new pups!!!!!
(I'm totally becoming that crazy Mama who posts a million pictures of her pooch!  But come on, how could I not?!)
Hope you all enjoy this long weekend with your family and friends!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I have a question for yall.  Do you all feel pressured in life sometimes?
Not necessarily by your immediate family but by other folks?
And maybe you all are like me but when someone tells me to do something over and over, I want to do the exact opposite.  Or not do it at all. 
Maybe it's just me but I'm a lot more effective when people don't force me to do something.  I was fortunate that my parents never told me how to do stuff, they let me figure it out on my own.  And I'm better now because of that.  Don't get me wrong, they were strict, but I was able to sort my own way through life. 
And I do well with a schedule and I'm a creature of habit but I also have a really ridiculous schedule.  Yes, I probably bring a lot of that on myself, but I don't work 40 hour work weeks.  I don't leave my house at 8am every morning.  I don't get home at 5:30 every day.  Ha, I wish, that'd be amazing!  And my family and friends are a priority because without them, I'm nothing.  Exercise too, obviously important. 
But anyway, I just like figuring out things myself.  And going about our lives how Kevin and I want to.  Some things that may be priority to me or us aren't to you.  Things that are priority to you, may not be to me. 
And guess what?!  That is okay!  We are all different.  And we should all be able to make our own decisions and not be forced into something. 

Y'all feel the same way?!
(This doesn't relate to any situation, just talking real life!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

My 30th - The Day I Became a Mama!

Friday was like any normal day.  I went to Greensboro for a work deal, Kevin went to Statesville with his Dad to get his car serviced.  They went to see Aunt Kate as she had just had surgery.
I got home around 4pm and ran and go showered for dinner that evening at the fish camp (my choice!).  We went for my birthday with Kevin's parents, brother, sister in law and niece Kendall.  I had no idea what was in front of me!
Kevin and his Dad didn't get home until after 5pm which I thought was crazy because they had ALL day to get up there and back.  Why would they sit in rush hour on a Friday getting back to Charlotte?  But I was grateful for some time to get ready for dinner and recover from the week.
They had left Kevin's Dad's car at our house.  We had just gotten some painting done and when they got home, Kevin came back to where I was drying my hair.  I said well didn't your Dad come in to see the paint?  He said no he had to hurry up to get Mom and everyone to go to dinner.  He said they're also coming over here later to bring your presents.  Okay, I didn't think that was's common for them to come hang out on Fridays with us.  Little did I know, I didn't see his Dad because they had to do a switch-a-roo of a special guy. 
We went to dinner and came back.  They had to stop by their house to get the gifts on the way over.  I opened the gift from his parents and then also his bro and sil.  Then Kevin handed me a card and said, "now remember this is all you get because of the Nashville trip."  (That was the deal - we went to Nashville for my birthday)  So he handed it to me and I opened this isn't uncommon because he's always giving me golden retriever cards. 

But when I read inside and I realized Kevin was no longer in the room, we were getting a puppy!

And in walked MILLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I couldn't contain myself.  I got all teary and I just couldn't believe it.  Heck, I still can't believe it!

I've dreamed about having a golden retriever FOREVER!  I grew up with one named Charlie who passed when I was a sophomore in college.  I STILL think Charlie should be at the door when I go home to Maryland.

Y'all they had been in Greensboro also that day but were about 3 miles from Westben getting us Mills.  Kevin had bought Mills about a month ago but wanted to save the surprise until my birthday!!!

He is the most perfect pups EVER!  Isn't he the cutest thing you've ever seen?!!!

I got to go to Petsmart with my Mama on Saturday morning!  Everyone loved me! ;)

My friend Ashley that I grew up with has always told me about Westben which is where they got their adorable pooch George.  There are a lot of odd things about this whole story because I sent Kevin the link about Westben a couple years ago when Ashley told me about it.  Kevin asked around town here and found out that Westben was THE place to get a golden in the southeast.  He didn't remember that it was the same breeder where George was from. 

And even weirder - Ashley and I were talking that Friday night when Kevin and I had gotten home from dinner and before I met Mills.  She sent me a picture of a couple boy pups at Westben that they had right now.  She asked when we were going to get one and I said not now because of all the expense of the house, wedding etc.  Then 10 minutes later Mills was in my house!!!!!!!!  I texted her that she wasn't going to believe what just happened.  She couldn't!  We've had fun talking about them and she's given me a million tips!

Best part - George and Mills have the same Dad!  So YES!  My friend from Maryland and our pups are half brothers!  Can you BELIEVE that?!!!!!!!!!  Small world of golden retrievers!!!

On Saturday we went uptown to our Avenue condo to show Mills!  It's "miller time!"

First family photo!  Mills is a big baby!  He's precious and so cuddly!  I cannot get enough of him!

I'm an uptown pups!

We attended our annual friendsthanksgiving that our friend Chris puts on every year.  We love visiting with all of our old neighbors.  Folks that have moved out of town still come back for it.  One from Canada, one from Georgia, Chris' daughter from NJ.  Just really an amazing event! 

After the "dunch" we had plans with Dave and Jenn.  They were going to meet us down at our house and we were going to have a fire.  We opened the garage door and ALL of our friends were in our garage.  Kevin had put together a surprise party!  He is unreal!!!!!!!!!!

I was terrible at taking pictures because I was so overwhelmed but it was SO fun.  All of our friends got to see our house and take it over and set up for the party.  Kevin got 10 pizzas, 6 cases of beer and a pink and green cake!  He knows me well!

I want to list the folks that came so I remember in 10 years.  Lots of Kevin's friends, our Avenue crowd and a friend of mine from college!  Jenn and David (who were really good liars!), Josh and Wendy, Miguel, Craig and Sara, Greg, Benny and Jackie, Dan, Brad and Shauna (who set things up!), Joe and Brittany (who brought all the food!), Kevin's parents, Rob, Ken and his brother and I hope I'm not forgetting anyone.  There were others that were supposed to come but didn't end up making it for various reasons. 

Kevin made a huge fire and burned everything in sight!

Kevin and I with Brad and Shauna!

Ole Mills was racked out by the end of the night!

But next morning he had lots of energy!!!

I took him for a walk but when I talked to the breeder he said I shouldn't do that until he's 18 months.  He's lil bones and joints need time to develop.   
His cousin Fin told him about a show on Animal Planet all about their friends.  So he watched it!
We just have had the best time hanging out with him.  He is SO cute and I miss him so much today. 
Mills - "My parents are champion dogs.  They get shown very often.  Therefore, I'm a special puppy too."  Yes Mills, Mama thinks you could be in magazines and on the dog treat boxes. 
Best present I've ever received!  Thank you Kevin for making my birthday SO special!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday Party Outfits

Today is one of those days I'm glad I have a blog.  I can go back and look at what I wore or what we did for the holidays each year.  I love having it because I cannot remember a single thing in my life.  Without this and most importantly my Outlook calendar, I'd be toast!
Anyway, tis the season to start thinking about what I'm going to wear to the gazillion holiday parties this year!  Always fun and I love it!
In 2009 I had this as my standard outfit.
This was my 2010 dress. 
And my old school Lilly from 2006 came back out again in 2011. 
Sooooo what are yall wearing in 2012?  I don't want to spend any money this year but I need to come up with a classic outfit.  I'm thinking I may wear my green skirt yall saw a peak of in the picture yesterday.  Maybe that with black tights, black heels and some fun top.  Don't want to look too corporate but also don't want to spend mulah on a new dress.  We shall see!
Any great holiday outfits you've seen?  Please leave the link in the comments if you'd like so other can see as well!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Last night my girls and I went to Cowfish for dinner.  I may have blown out a candle on a piece of cake! ;)
As always we had so much fun!  Thanks ladies!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Song List

The one thing I really care about for our reception (other than open bar) is the music.  I told you all about our band Still Cruzin' in this post. Thank you to KT Louise for the recommendation by the way! ;)
And I know they've played literally 1,400 weddings since the 70's so they are well capable of making it a party.  But since we have been engaged, I've just collected songs that I would love to be played.   So I'll give them this list but Johnny says they can read the crowd so I'll let them do their thang!
One really cool thing that they said they'd do for us was to learn a few songs.  I think we may have them learn Better Together by Jack Johnson for our first song.  We'll see if Kevin still wants to dance to that or something else by then! 
Let's be honest friends - what do you think about when you leave a wedding?  Entertainment, food and drinks right?  Yep, I can't tell you who used what kind of flowers in any of the gazillion weddings I've been to.  But I CAN tell you who had good food, open bar and an awesome band!  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wake Up Call

I'm not really sure why but out of the last few weeks of travel, there have been two times I've stayed near a big time medical facility.  First it was in Houston.  I stayed near MD Anderson which is a top of the line cancer center for those who don't know (I didn't, luckily). 
And I recently stayed next to the UVA hospital and cancer center. 
Back to Houston.  I noticed most of the folks in the Hilton weren't business travelers.  I took a shuttle to go find a cool place for dinner (this one time I actually had time to eat dinner and it wasn't fast food while driving down the turnpike ugh).  I proceeded to quiz the shuttle driver so I could learn more about the area.  It was near Rice's campus which he showed me. 
I sat down at the bar of course when I'm by myself.  I talk to the bartender or other folks that look lonely.  Yall know I can talk to a brick wall.  Anyway this sweet lady and I started chatting.  She was sitting with her husband and two sons.  They were in Houston for her husbands check up.  The next day they were going to get life changing news.  Good or bad.  She was so positive.  She told me that I was going to have a good life and she was just so thrilled I was getting married.  I just kept thinking "you are so strong but quit talking about me, let's talk about you.... are you okay...etc. etc."  But she was just such a joy and an uplifting person.  I bet they got good news the next day.  I hope so. 
Anyway, the shuttle guy picked me back up from dinner and there was a young couple in the van too.  They were probably late 20's, early 30' age basically.  I asked them where they were from and they live in Wilmington, NC.  I asked them what brought them to Houston and they said MD Anderson.  They were there for a 2nd opinion after they had been to Duke.  Can you imagine?  They were so positive when they told me they already knew what the next day would hold for the husband but they could only hope they may get a glimpse of good news.  They got out of the van and went into dinner.  I told them I'd be thinking of them.  Of course I'd never see them again but I still think about them often.
The other night in Charlottesville, I was in the Hampton Inn elevator with an older lady and I saw she had a wristband on.  Unfortunately I knew that meant that she had been at the hospital across the street.  I made some stupid joke about how she and I were staying on the penthouse level (aka level 5 of a dang Hampton Inn haha).  She then opened up about how she hopes she got better sleep because her husband is handicap and she had to get up at 4am to take him to surgery but the surgery went well..... She kept talking and I kept listening.  She said she was going to sleep better tonight knowing he had done well today.  I told her I was so glad.
You know, it's not an easy world out there.  I'm really trying these days to stop and talk to people.  Smile at them.  And make silly small talk.  Who knows what's going on in their life.  It may make them happy.  Or they may just think I'm crazy, ha! 
It's easy to get caught up in our own little worlds.  Our world of preppy clothes and nice houses and cars and unreal experiences.  Don't get me wrong, I love all of that stuff but when it comes right down to it, it's not about that.  Life isn't about getting irate when someone cuts in front of you in line, or giving someone hand gestures when they drive like an idiot.  (Even though I want to go ballistic when these things occur).  But the truth is, it's just not worth it!
There are so many more important things in this world.  And I'm trying to get better about slowing down to enjoy them and being a better person.  I'm not anywhere close to perfect but I think some tweaks to my daily attitude will be a good thing for strangers, those close to me and to myself. 
Join me, will y'all?! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Reunion and Engagement Party

We had a busy but fun weekend!  Friday night after work we went to The Brown Derby for dinner with Kevin's parents.  It is super old school hole in the wall in Monroe, NC.  It was actually pretty good.
Two main events this weekend, both on Saturday.
1.  Kevin's family reunion at his parents home. 
Here are some pictures....
2.  Lauren and Andrew's engagement party!
Lauren's college girls - Brittany, Lauren, JoAnn, Stephanie, Emily
It was at the home of a local university's president.  And it was amazing!  The spread was by Dean & Deluca. 
Kevin and I having fun.
Em and Michael.
The bride with her parents. 
The bride and groom with his family. 
Kevin and Andrew.
Isn't the home gorgeous?
It was such a fun celebration of Lauren and Andrew.  It included toasts to the happy couple and a slideshow of pictures of them both growing up.  Adorable!
Sunday I cleaned our entire house top to bottom and side to side.  I'm talking all out, I cleaned the heck out of it!  You know, a house cleaner is great and everything but noone cleans as well as you clean yourself.  That's what Mama says and I've gotta agree! 
While I cleaned, Kevin powerwashed.  He's got more than half of the driveway done.  He's worked SO hard on it.  The goal is to have it done by the time my parents come next week.
Have a good week yall!