November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Part 1 + a Holiday Giveaway!

Thanksgiving...oh how I adore you! So far I have been able to watch the famous Macy's Day Parade, lounge around the house in pj's, sleep in, spend much needed time with family and indulge in some of the best homemade food (pumpkin pie being my favorite) a girl could hope for. Y'all, I don't know about you, but I have used a lot of my downtime to really count my blessings. There is so much to be thankful for, far more then I can even realize, and have truly been able to see all that I have been gifted with in just these past two days. So how about a little glimpse into the first part of my Thanksgiving that shows you some of the things that God has blessed me with. I hope you enjoy :)

First thing Thursday morning, Miller, Will and I hit the road to head to Greensboro to visit my family! This is the first Thanksgiving that Will has been able to come along with me and I couldn't have been more excited.
Since my parent's were not able to be with me on my actual birthday, we celebrated me turning 25 with pumpkin pie and opening gifts together on Thursday afternoon. I can not WAIT to share with you guys what I got (insert a lot of excitement here) later next week!! Because my Dad's birthday is on a weekday in December and I won't get to see him, I decided I wanted to give him his gift in person early...and I don't think he complained one bit! Some of the things I got the soon-to-be birthday boy were yummy Speculoos Cookies and Crunchy Cookie Butter from Trader Joe's. Greensboro doesn't have a TJ's yet and I think I got my dad hooked on the store when he last visited Charlotte, so it was only necessary to pick up some of his favorite obsessions! And I couldn't NOT get him the Green Bay Packers personalized NFL Glassware from Pottery Barn to use on game days.
After opening our gifts, it was time to eat some food and watch the Packers play the Lions. Sadly, the Packers lost but our spirits were quickly turned around when mom brought out the Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie...whew wee, that stuff is some kind of good. Side note- another thing I am thankful for was Momma getting out of the hospital on Thanksgiving day! Since Monday, she had been in the hospital with a lot of stomach pain and sickness and they finally figured out she had an ulcer and kidney stone...both that they said could be treated with lot's of medicine and NO surgery needed! PRAISE THE LORD! 
Friday morning rolled around and Will and I went to pick up Biscuitville and Krispy Kream for everyone to enjoy, and while Momma rested, Will, Dad and I ventured out to the Carolina Sciquarium at the Natural Science Center and had a ball visiting all the animals and exhibits they had open.
After a great afternoon exploring with two of my favorite men, Will and I have to get ready to say our temporary goodbyes as we head to Chapel Hill to pick up his younger brother, Cody and head off to Pilot Mountain to spend the second half of our Thanksgiving holiday with his Mom and brother Noah! I can't wait to spend some quality time with Will's family. That's all for sure to check back on Sunday for my Thanksgiving Part 2 post!

But wait. What kind of person would I be to leave you guys hanging in the meantime?! Since I am so thankful for all of my readers, I am participating in a Giveaway (my first one) and am so excited for one of you to win some money! Who doesn't love a little extra cash around the Holidays? I know I do! Right below you can enter and I am crossing all of my fingers and toes for one of you to win!

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, sweet friends! First, I just wanted to start off by saying thank you so much for all the birthday wishes (be on the lookout for a recap post next week) and I am SO thankful for each and every one of you. You guys have made blogging so enjoyable all because of your loving comments, the link-ups that I have been able to participate in, friendships that have been made, awards that I have been nominated for and so much more! Secondly, I hope that all of you have an amazing day spent in the presence of family and friends. Remember, today is all about showing thanks and loving on others. My prayers for y'all on this special day is that you are able to slow down, be social media free and really enjoy those you have in your life. And what better way to start today then with a few precious images that I found from Pinterest (duh)!    

November 26, 2013

Keep Calm, It's my Birthday!

Y'all! Guess what! Today marks my 25th BIRTHDAY--Ahhh! :) I have already received a number of text messages, Snapchats, emails and phone calls from family, friends and sweet blog followers and I couldn't be more thankful! I can't even express how loved I feel today you guys!

Tonight, Will is going to take me to dinner (not sure where I want to go yet) but my real birthday celebration will take place this Thursday/Friday when we are in Greensboro spending Thanksgiving with my family! And because my birthday is only days apart from Thanksgiving, I wanted to use today to not only celebrate 25 amazing years, but 25 things that I am thankful again, thank you so much for your love, support and for being amazing followers of Simply Sweet Melissa. It means more to me then you will ever know.

I am thankful for...
1. My parents. I wouldn't be the person I am today if it wasn't for them. They have helped me through the worst of the worst and have been there to celebrated the best of the best. To say I am lucky to have them would be an understatement.
2. My friends.  I am one of those types of people who prefer to have a smaller group of really close friends instead of a large group of friends. Those that I call my friends (at this very moment), I can say 100% without any question or concern that I can go to them with anything and not be judged, can count on them, and know deep down that they care for me and only want the best for ME.
3. My sweet pup, Miller. Oh how I love our daily cuddle time, his sweet slobbery kisses and his dependence on me as his owner.
4. Going to college. Not everyone has the opportunity to go to a private college, yet alone, any college for that matter. It's expensive and my parents had to trade in so much to get me to where I needed to be. Praise the Lord for that!
5. Being able to study abroad (in Greece) my sophomore year of college (and being able to travel in general). The experience you get when studying abroad (or traveling) is one I hope everyone has the chance to do once in their lifetime, whether that be through school, on your own, or later in life.
6. Being a nice and genuine person! I'm not perfect, but I've never intentionally hurt anyone and don't believe in being mean. I hate to see others cry, and love to make people smile.
7. For being a decent writer (when I want to be). I'm thankful that I am generally good at expressing myself on paper or in written format and enjoy being creative, especially when it comes to writing cards and creating scrapbooks for others!
8. Being debt-free. I have to give a huge thank you to my parents for paying for my schooling, my car and so much more. I also have to recognize Dave Ramsey's FPU course that I took that taught me so much about how to save money, becoming and staying debt-free and everything in-between.
9. Being financially secure. I am not "rich" but I am comfortable with what I have and then some.
10. The sound of the rain on the roof. What better way to fall asleep at night or relax at home reading a book then with the sound of raindrops in the background?
11. Hot showers. Need I say more?
12. Free festivals and events. There is nothing better then getting to explore the city you live in (or your surrounding areas) when its accompanied by free stuff that you can do. Who doesn't love to wander around and people watch?
13. The hard times. It's not easy to say I am thankful for them at the time I am going through them, BUT they have made me stronger and wiser, and have made me realize how GOOD the easier times really are.
14. Those who read what I write. I can't say thank you enough to all of my readers who read my blog posts, my comments, Instagram captions, etc. You rock!
15. Being emotional. This one has taken some time for me to come to grips with but I would never trade my emotions for anything else. I would rather be too emotional then down right mean and cold-hearted.
16. Today. You never really know if you'll see tomorrow. So why not be thankful for all the days you have been given?
17. Laughter. Nothing feels better then being able to have a good laugh. And don't they say that laughter is the best medicine?
18. Photography. I's pretty amazing.
19. My faith. It continues to grow and I hope it continues to make an impact on others.
20. Planners and Agendas. For someone who is detail oriented like me, I like to be able to see my day laid out and organized.
21. My overall health. Besides my pinched nerve in  my neck and for being anemic, I am overall healthy, in shape and thankful for being able to walk, talk, see, touch, taste and smell.
22. The little things. Like nail polish, perfume, books, famous quotes, the color gold, Christmas lights and monograms. These things don't add value to your life but are sweet things that make this girl giddy and full of excitement.
23. Pumpkin and Pecan pie. Yum...just thinking about them make my mouth water.
24. Study Bibles. Nothing makes me more excited to read the Word then a study bible that is easier to understand, has explanations and more details on all sorts of topics and verses.
25. And last but not least, my other half, my best friend, my boyfriend, WILL! This boy has stolen my heart and is there for me no matter what the circumstance. I loved him yesterday, I love him now, and I'll love him forever.

Whew! I challenge you to make a list of all the things you are thankful for. It's not easy, especially if it's hard for you to think outside the box. But try it. See what you come up with. You might surprise yourself! Creating a list of all the things you have to be thankful for comes in handy particularly on days when you are feeling discouraged or just down right gloomy. Have fun :)

November 25, 2013

Weekend Shenanigans

Happy Monday, loves! Do you ever have those weekends were you can't not laugh and smile when you think about all that happened? That's pretty much what happens when I think about these past few days that I got to spend with two of my best friends, Caitlin and Alyssa :) We laughed until we cried, danced, took a bunch of photos and danced some more!
After work on Friday, Alyssa and Caitlin came over to get ready and then we headed to one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte called Rock Bottom for a much needed dinner and girl time. One of the many reasons I love these two girls so much is because every time I am with them, I feel like no time has passed us by. And even though my 25th birthday is TOMORROW, I decided to tell the waiter that CAITLIN's birthday was that night...I know, I know...but who doesn't love a free dessert?!
After dinner and much needed catching up, it was time to start our evening out on the town...or in our case, spent hoping from place to place in Uptown Charlotte all.night.long! Some of the places we made some fun memories at were Howl at the Moon (a Dueling Piano Bar), Ri Ra's (an Irish Pub) and the Catalyst.
The next morning, Caitlin had to head out to a Doctor appointment so Alyssa and I ate a quick breakfast and hit the road to apartment shop in Charlotte and Matthews. Because my dad owns his own Construction company, I have always loved and grew up looking at models of homes and helping ask questions that most people forget to go over (such as "how many carbon monoxide detector's are installed in this apartment?") so I had a ball apartment shopping for Alyssa! And what better way to tour apartments then with a visit by a HUGE neighborhood dog at one of the places!
Oh! And before I forget, Alyssa made some new changes to her blog so be sure to check it out here! AP did a great job coming up with a new blog name and an adorable layout that she created all on her own! So proud of this sweet girl and can't wait for her to be only a few minutes down the road from all we have to do is get Cait to move her precious self back to the Queen City and all will be perfect <3

So all in all, I must say I feel extremely blessed and so thankful for having these girls in my life. It's important that each and every person finds that group of individuals that you can trust 100%. It's vital that you have that support system when you are in need of a shoulder to cry on or a hug for a job well done. The greatest thing you'll ever learn is to love and be loved in return...
Sami's Shenanigans

November 22, 2013

5 on Friday

I don't know what it is that I was so excited about this morning, but it was so easy for me to get up today! Usually I am not a morning person and hit the snooze button on average about four times before rolling out of bed, but not today! So it's easy for me to say (for once first thing in the morning) that I am already feeling good about this Friday and hope that you all are ready to take on whatever today holds :) Plus, we have the weekend to look forward to and Friday link-ups to participate in!

What better way to start your morning then with a daily reading from Jesus Calling Daily Devotional? Today's message really hit home and was all about thankfulness which is something that I sometimes struggle with. My favorite part is when it says "Thankfulness is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love, which enables  you to communicate intimately with Me". It's not always easy to show compassion for others, or to always be kind and courteous. But that's when it's most important to have a thankful heart! Be thankful for every relationship God has given you; both the good and the bad. View everything you go through as a blessing. And don't only go to God with your prayer request...make sure you are also thanking him for life and second chances. 
I went back to Anthropologie on Wednesday and picked up the limited edition mug that I have had my eyes on for over a week and was so excited to take it home with me :) Not only is it monogrammed but it's the perfect size mug AND is in all time favorite! This little beauty has already been used for hot chocolate and will be used regularly this fall/winter!
I get to reunite with these two gals this weekend and can't wait to hug on them and finally catch up! Alyssa is actually moving to Charlotte and Cait is in town for the weekend so it will be fun going out tonight and helping Alyssa look at apartments! Yay!
My Simplified Planner that I ordered is on it's way and I can't wait to get my hands on it so that I can start filling it up and show it to y'all sometime next week! If you are in need of a new planner, I highly recommend one of these! Emily Ley's products are nothing less of perfection.
Look at how adorable these Mr. & Mrs. holiday glasses are from Furbish Studio! These would make the perfect gift for a married couple or for you and your significant other to use during Christmas time! And what's better then being able to take an extra 30% off on all sale items with this code--> SUPERSALE. Now if that doesn't convince you to check out this nifty little website then I don't know what will! (Below are some other fun items I spotted while browsing the website.)

We Took the Road Less Traveled
That Friday Blog Hop

November 20, 2013

Wildcard Wednesday

It's Wednesday, you guys! We have made it halfway through the work week and I hope you are feeling accomplished! Today I am participating in the Wildcard Wednesday link-up and thought I would share some random things that I am loving and thankful for this week :) So sit back, sip on something warm and enjoy today's post...
(CHERISH EVERY MOMENT & EVERY PERSON IN YOUR LIFE) There is something  so lovely and oh so special about handwritten recipes and notes from family members. My Grandma was one of the best cooks that I have ever met. She made homemade everything. Some of the things I will never forget where the pumpkin pies should would make me for my birthdays and the spaghetti that I can still taste when I close my eyes and think about it. I don't know if her food was just that good because it was made with love by her, or if she really did have a special way of making things that I to this day can never recreate! Either way, this past weekend I came across a binder full of my dear Grandma's recipes. Some of them handwritten like the one above, others typed up with drips of butter and frosting dried to the pages.I wish she was still here so that she could teach me her ways. 

I wish when I was younger I showed more appreciation for her cooking and all the love that she poured out onto our family. She was the best. The only Grandma I ever had. And I cherish what I have left of her, these handwritten recipes of some of her favorite things! In a previous post I talked about a website that I came across called Blurb. I have started to use it in hopes to one day have typed up all of my Grandma's recipes into a book that I can give to my Momma and Aunt Betty. I know it is something they would truly cherish and can't wait for the day when I can look at the final product and smile knowing that my Grandma would be proud :)
(APPRECIATE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS) On Monday, I was greeted with the below little gift from one of our sweet vendor's! Inside was just what I needed for a busy afternoon; Starbucks coffee, English Butter Toffee and Milk Chocolate Almonds from Maple Ridge Farm! I couldn't not have a few pieces before heading home for the day and boy is that toffee some kind of yummy!
(TREAT YOURSELF EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE) I want the below Limited Edition Golden Monogram Mug from Anthropologie so bad I can't take it! Over the weekend, I went by the store at SouthPark but they hadn't received the whole shipment yet so I plan on going back at the end of this week to see if they have one with an 'M' on it! Aren't they adorable? And for only $10, they are a must!
(ENJOY LIFE & LIVE FOR TODAY)Yesterday after work, our LifeGroup had a social night at The Wine Loft and I was very much excited because I was in need of a night that consisted of girl talk and a few glasses of wine :) We had so much fun just chatting away and I must say, I will defiantly be coming back to this little place. The Wine Loft is a quaint, and cozy upscale Wine Bar that offers over 40 different kinds of wine by the glass and over 100 by the about choices! Got a hungry stomach? No need to worry because they also have appetizers and desserts that go perfect with your wine. This place met all of my "standards" and more and I think it's the perfect spot to go to with a group of friends or before a romantic dinner with you significant other.

November 19, 2013

Favorite Breakfast Spots: Charlotte Edition

Biscuits, bacon, scrambled eggs, grits, french toast....I could go on! But I better stop before my mouth starts to water. For those that truly know me, breakfast is hands down my favorite meal of the day. I got to thinking of all the places I enjoy eating at that help jump start my mornings in the QC, when Abbey asked me what some of favorite places where that she should go and try out in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas and thought I would share a few of my favorites with you today :)

Located in Uptown Charlotte, Harvest Moon Grille is an authentic Farm-to-Table restaurant. Not only is the food great, but they are also located within the beautiful Dunhill Hotel! I can promise you that you will never get bored with the options on the menu because things are constantly changing and they prepare items that are only in season, all from different local farms. For this restaurant, I would highly recommend making a reservation before you go.

Oh my stars. This is by far my favorite breakfast spot. From the creamy grits, to the fluffy biscuits with cranberry apple butter, all the way down to my go-to choice of whole wheat bread french toast served with raspberry sauce and honey creme glaze, The Flying Biscuit never lets me down. Lucky for you, there are locations all over North Carolina, Florida and Georgia! If I get to choose where I go eat, it's always this little gem. There are even days when I want it for dinner so BFD it is :)

Zada Janes is hard to miss. From it's bright green exterior to it's shuffleboard courts out front, this cafe provides a warm and laid back environment. One of Will's coworkers told us we had to check this place out and I am so glad we did! We have only been there once, but I am itching to go back for the 'Amaretto French Toast' that had an orange butter I was unsure about at first, but ended up really enjoying! Located on Central Avenue, Zada Janes is a must try for breakfast or late lunch.

Toast is about the experience. This is a restaurant that provides a southern-at-home style meal. Instead of biscuits, you are greeted with corn bread before your meal comes out and oh how sweet it is! Will and I have been multiple times and each experience has been superb. In my opinion, I would say that Toast is a close second from my all time favorite, The Flying Biscuit.
Imagine this: Cinnamon Nut French Toast, grilled with toasted almonds, cinnamon sugar and topped with sliced bananas and whipped cream. I have no words, I'll just leave that up to you! "O-HOP" as I call it, is always busy so be sure to call ahead and make a reservation.

Cafe Monte is a precious french bakery and bistro that makes you feel like you are somewhere else besides Charlotte when inside. Although the food is good, the atmosphere is better. There is something about the decor, music softly playing in the background and the kindness of the staff that puts me at ease and really allows me to enjoy myself and take in all the goodness that surrounds me.

So those are just a handful of my top choices, but here are a few other local favorites that I am excited to one day try: Eddie's Place, Crispy Crepe, LePeep and LULU.

November 18, 2013

Weekend Shenanigans

Monday, you came to soon! I enjoyed a pretty close to perfect filled with nothing but relaxing and savoring every moment I got to lay around in my PJ's, nothing planned, and going about my days with whatever I felt up to do! To make my weekend even better, I received a surprise package in the mail from one of my dearest blogging friends turned real life friends, Chelsea!
Chelsea, if you are reading this, you are so kind and so special to me! I love you to pieces and thank God for putting you in my life. I can't thank you enough for my "Happy" package :) The nail polish is perfect to wear this fall/winter (and I don't have this color so I am happy I get to add it to my growing collection)! And that gold and black pouch is perfect! You know me to well and my love for all things GOLD! I have already filled it up with my lipsticks and carry it around in my big ole' purse! You guys...God is so amazing and will bless you with amazing friends if you let him. I don't deserve friends like Chelsea, but am so excited to see how God uses her in my life!
This might be a short post, but the only other things I did this weekend was a couples dinner on Saturday night at a place called Bricktop's and church on Sunday morning! Sometime's you just need to take it easy and go slowwww. Everyone is different. Some people like to go out, some people like to travel, and others like to just kick back and chill. Depending on how my week goes, I like to do all of those things! But that's why I am not bothered by the fact that I don't have much to report on today. I ENJOYED and needed a restful and calm weekend like the one I had. But even though I was pretty lazy, I was excited to catch up with you guys today :) So until tomorrow, have a great Monday sweet friends!

Sami's Shenanigans
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