August 27, 2014

Currently...

Thanks to my sweet friend, Mary-Katherine over at Gold-Hatted Lover for the inspiration behind today's post! You can view her past 'currently' post here and I hope you enjoy because I plan to start incorporating more types of these posts in the future. Any feedback is welcomed!

Obsessing...over this hot pink scalloped swimsuit from Everything But Water.
Excited...to be marrying my best friend come June 2015!
Listening...to every song by Sam Smith. Swooning over his voice in this song especially...
Loving...the fact that it's almost fall and I fill my house with fall scented candles.
Preparing...a care package I plan to send to one of my friends who needs a little pick-me-up!
Anticipating...Will and I flying out to Houston, TX this Thursday to look at apartments!
Buying...nothing and saving every penny I have to go towards wedding related items we need.
Watching...reruns of Live with Kelly and Michael.
Trying...healthier food options and trying to become less of a picky eater! Change is hard!
Located...in Charlotte, NC and more specifically curled up on my couch with Miller.
Needing...more hours in the day to get everything I want to completed.
Girl-Crushing...over Natalie Dormer AND Julie Roberts. Did you see them at The Emmy's? Gorg!
Reading...The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith
Behind...on reading all the blogs I follow daily.
Stressing...over the little things. Doesn't everyone?
Wanting...to go on a cruise. Will has never been on one!
Celebrating...the fact that today is a NEW day.

And before heading out this morning to start my day, I wanted to remind everyone to link-up to today's link-up party WYWW (see below)! Today I am featuring two posts. The first is from All Kinds of Things Blog on Toddler Chores and What That Looks Like and the second is from Seeking Lavender Lane Blog on How To Cover Thrift Store Books with Fabric!

And if you're like me at all and sometimes have a hard time trying to figure out what to blog about, then why not participate in The Blog-tember Challenge? Go check out my friend Bailey's blog over at Brave Love for more details!
Brave Love Blog


August 26, 2014

Road Trips & The Ice Bucket Challenge

So I started off my week by hitting the snooze button a few too many times, hence my late start to the day resulting in not having time before work to write a blog post yesterday. Whoops! But it's never to late to give a quick recap of my weekend...

Late in the week last week I made a last minute decision to leave Miller and Will behind in Charlotte (insert guys night) to go to Winston-Salem to visit Kate and her sweet new pup Raleigh! Not only was she the cutest little girl ever, but so well trained for only being 10 weeks old.

Late Friday night, Kate and I went to District Roof Top Bar and Grille for dinner were we caught up on life and then enjoyed yummy dessert at Sweet Potatoes before heading back to Kate's house to sip on some wine, curled up on the couch and enjoyed much needed girl time.
Early Saturday morning, I drove back to Charlotte and Will and I got brunch at Nan and Byron's. I highly recommend this place if you have never been before! Because Will and I have been traveling every single weekend, we decide to have a slow rest of the day and let's just say I thoroughly enjoyed it! Being able to lay on the couch, catching up on a few past episodes of Suits was just what we needed. Later that night we went to dinner at Noodle's and then went over to my coworker and friend Allison's new apartment which was beyond adorable. Allison feel free to come decorate my place anytime you want!

Sunday was pretty much like Saturday but more time was spent at home. Will had to go into work so I did some laundry and other household "chores" that needed to be done. Monday was here before I knew it, but I was excited for five o'clock to roll around so that Caitlin and I could head to Blo Charlotte, a blow dry bar on Selwyn Avenue. You can't miss them when trying to find their location because of their bright pink sign out front. But what were Caitlin and I doing here you might ask? We were not there just to get our hair done, but to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

I found out Blo Charlotte was offering free blowouts to anyone who took the challenge outside their salon, and not only that, but they too donated the cost of each blowout to the ALS foundation! Caitlin and I also contributed money to the foundation and even though we were nervous about the water being ice cold (which is was) we were extremely excited to help spread the word about ALS and it's deadliness. To see Caitlin and I do the Ice Bucket Challenge, you can view it here for the full video!

After completing the challenge, the wonderful ladies at Blo gave us the most wonderful blowouts! I selected the Pillow Talk style from the hair menu and Cait got the Holly Would look. We were in and out in under an hour so for those of you who would love to participate, give the girls over at Blo Charlotte a call and pick a time to make a visit. And if you give them a call by the end of the first week in September, you can take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge like we did.  

Later that day, I went home and made dinner and watched the Emmy's which was really good this year! Later this week I will do a post on all of my favorite looks from the Red Carpet. I'd be interested in knowing who you thought was best dressed this year so leave a comment and let me know!

To learn more about the Ice Bucket Challenge or to gain a better understanding of what the ALS Association is, visit their website for all the details and information one needs to know.

August 22, 2014

Friday Favorites

This weekend is the first weekend all month that Will and I are in Charlotte. Traveling every weekend seemed fun the first two weekends and has now become so tiring! I'm really looking forward to taking things slow over the next couple of days, doing nothing and can't wait to spend some much needed one on one time with my fiance! Ahh...fiance...I love saying that word.
On another note, lately I've been having a hard time staying focused and utilizing my time how I should. With so much going on, I need to find something to get me back on track. The Pomodoro Technique could possibly do the trick.
And have y'all seen this proposal video? It will make you pull out the tissues and smile so big it hurts. If you are a fan of love stories and gestures so thoughtful and sweet, then this one you'll be sure to enjoy.

Before I go and get ready to start the day, I just had to share this phone case that I ordered and can not wait for it to arrive! It reminds me of summer time and who doesn't love touches of gold? But my favorite aspect of the phone case are the pineapples! Did you know that pineapple's represents southern hospitality? You can learn more about the symbolism of the Pineapple here if you are interested!     
Lahaina Purple - from Sonix Cases 
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! After work I am headed to Winston-Salem for the night to visit one of my best friends Kate and I can't wait meet the sweet little girl Raleigh! She is the newest addition to the Reid clan and looks like the cutest little thing I've seen form her photos! And this will be the first time I will see their new home. Stay tuned for next week where I'll give a recap of what I did over the weekend!

August 20, 2014

A Dave Ramsey Experience

Happy Hump Day! Today I wanted to change things up a little bit and talk about something that has honestly changed my life for the better and has given me a new perspective on things...this would be Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class that I took a few last year. First off, let me tell you a little about who Dave Ramsey is. Dave is an American financial author, radio host, television personality, and motivational speaker. His shows and writing strongly focus on helping individuals get out of debt.

 
I first learned of who he was while I was reading Nancy Ray's blog post here on becoming debt free. I've never personally been in extreme debt, but do know of  individuals who have been, and it's just something I never want to face myself. After reading Nancy's blog post, I got to thinking that you can never be too prepared when it comes to the future and how you handle your money. My family was always fine financially, and had just enough to make ends meet. But when it came to having extra money to give back to the church or enough money to make those home repairs that were needed or to go on that vacation that was very much deserved, the money just wasn't always right there when they would need it.


Now that I'm older and look back over all the years that I lived at home, I see all the sacrifices my parents made for our family and for us to be financially stable, and I just want a future in which I can give back, not only to them, but in more ways then I can think of at this very moment.

Okay, so now that you have some background information, let me tell you about FPU! Financial Peace University is a plan for our money. "It's teaches God's way of handling money. Through video teaching, class discussions and interactive small group activities, FPU presents biblical, practical steps to get from where you are to where you've dreamed you could be. This plan will show you how to get rid of debt, manage your money, spend and save wisely, and much more". (I gathered all this information from Dave Ramsey's website.)

Right around the same time that I found out about Dave Ramsey, the church that I was attending had posted on their website about offering the FPU class. Was that a sign that I should sign up? I had no idea. I talked to Will about taking the class and he was in agreement that it would be worth my time and money. So I signed up for the nine week class that met on Tuesdays for about an hour each week and was ready to see all that I was going learn and be challenged by.

Now if I went into detail on everything I learned from the class, this post would turn into a short story, so I am not going to do that to you! :) I will share The Baby Steps and information on the chapters though and leave the rest up to you to discover!

Dave Ramsey has created a list of seven baby steps that he feels will help guide you towards getting out of debt and reaching financial peace one step at a time. There is no time frame for how quickly you must complete the baby steps, but he does recommend very strongly that you complete the baby steps IN ORDER. Below is the list of baby steps. At the time that I completed the class, I was at baby step number four but when I made the move to Charlotte, I was back down at number three but am strongly moving forward! And keep in mind, you don't have to be married, have kids or experiencing debt to do the baby steps! ANYONE and EVERYONE benefit at working through these steps and I personally feel it's never to early to prepare for your future. You can read more about each baby step here in more detail.

Seven Baby Steps
1.Take $1,000 and start an Emergency Fund
2. Pay off all debt using the Debt Snowball
3. Put 3-6 months of expenses into savings
4. Invest 15% of your household income into Roth IRAs and pretax retirement
5. College funding for children/future children
6. Pay off your home early
7. Build wealth and give!

Every week, our class would meet and go over one chapter from the video and book and then do a discussion towards the end. Some of the chapters were really easy to understand, while others seemed more difficult for me to grasp. I think the breakdown of each chapter was done really well and I have already revisited some of the topics from the book with Will since we've been in Charlotte.

 Chapters and Topics
1. Super Saving- Common Sense for Your Dollars and Cents
2. Relating with Money- Nerds and Free Spirits Unite!
3. Cash Flow Planning- The Nuts and Bolts of Budgeting
4. Dumping Debt- Breaking the Chains of Debt
5. Buyer Beware- The Power of Marketing on your Buying Decisions (This chapter was extremely helpful when preparing my move from Raleigh to Charlotte with Will and looking for a place for us to rent!)
6. The Role of Insurance- Protecting your Health, Family and Finances
7.Retirement and College Planning- Mastering the Alphabet Soup of Investing
8. Real Estate and Mortgages- Keeping the American Dream From Becoming a Nightmare
9. The Great Misunderstanding- Unleashing the Power of Generous Giving

I hope that this post wasn't a bore to you all! Preparing for the future is so important to me as I am a big planner and really think that Dave Ramsey is a wise man with a whole bunch of knowledge that he is willing to share. Visit his website to learn more and see if a church or organization near you is offering the FPU class. I couldn't give it more of a positive review then I already have!


August 18, 2014

Yes To The Dress

This past weekend was not only productive, but also a huge success. Friday morning I had three appointments in Raleigh and Cary to look at and try on wedding dresses so I decided it would make the most sense to head to Greensboro Thursday night where my parents live! I am a huge homebody so being back in the city that I grew up in always does my soul good. Because Friday was going to be such a busy day, I relaxed as much as possible and called it a night way before 9:00 PM.

Bright and early on Friday morning, Mom and I headed to Cary where we met Mary Lou (Will's mom) and my dear friend Amanda (one of my bridesmaids) at Lana Addison Bridal for my first bridal appointment. I loved that the boutique was a full-service bridal salon but on the smaller size so that I wasn't overwhelmed by all the things that caught my eye.
After handing out glasses of wine and bottles of water, we were taken back to the dressing room were I began trying on dresses. The few requirements that I had for a dress were that it was not strapless, was not bright white, had a sweetheart neckline, was lightweight, and made of lace. Michaela, the sweet girl who worked with me brought back a handful of dresses for me to try on, but told me that she had one particular dress in mind she wanted me to try on...but another girl had it in the other dressing room...so we waited for the opportunity to get it, and in the meantime, tried on two other dresses she had pulled.

Let's just say the first dress did not fit me in any of the right places and the fabric from the second dress made me itch really bad. Although the second dress was beautiful, I knew that being uncomfortable was something I just couldn't settle for. Moments passed by as I was getting out of the second dress when another girl brings in the third dress, one by Amy Kuschel. It's was a 1940's inspired number and one that is in my opinion gorgeous from head to toe. It exceeded all of my expectations and more and I couldn't wait to try it on.
After slipping on the dress and pinning it back to fit my body, it only took me seeing myself in the mirror and the reactions from my "support team" before saying YES to the dress. I spun around so many times in that beauty and felt like a true princess for the 30 or so minutes that it was mine. Oh and the Lord was on our side that morning because I got my veil for free too! At Lana Addison's, if you purchase your dress on your first visit, they give you a store credit (usually around $300) towards a veil, jewelry or something along those lines, but the veil I had on was way over $300 but went perfect with my dress that they said I could have it for free! Amen!!


After filling out paperwork and making the first payment, it was time to eat lunch and celebrate! Mom, Mary Lou, Amanda and I walked down to a cute little restaurant in Cary called Serendipityenjoyed deli sandwiches and talked in more detail about wedding plans.
Lucky for us, we didn't have to go dress shopping at the other two stores after lunch, so I called and cancelled the appointments I had previously made and decided instead of driving straight to Greensboro, to make a quick stop in Raleigh to surprise my old co-workers that I worked with before moving to Charlotte! I had a great time seeing familiar faces and showing off my engagement ring and our mini-road trip ended much too soon.

Mom and I made it back to Greensboro around 3:00 in the afternoon and were exhausted. I napped, and when I woke up it was time to head to Dinner. One of the many things I love about my family is that when we go out to eat, we usually get dessert afterwards, so I was excited when Dad took us to get ice cream at a new little ice cream shop down the road from their house after a delicious dinner at my favorite mexican restaurant called La Bamba.
Saturday rolled around and Mom and I got our nails done and spent the rest of the day painting mason jars, Cheerwine bottles and doing other miscellaneous DIY projects for the wedding. Since Will and I are moving to Houston AND planning a wedding at the same time, we are trying to be very cautious with how we spend our money so a little DIY crafts never hurt nobody. And I think using mason jars will help give off the rustic feel that I want our wedding to be based off of.
I hope you all had a great weekend too! Were you able to relax? Were you busy running errands or able to spend time with family and friends? Whatever you did, I hope you enjoyed it.

August 13, 2014

The Answer is YES: The Celebration

Happy Wednesday, y'all! Up to this point, you've heard about and have hopefully read my previous two posts on Will and I's recent engagement. If you are new to my blog or have not had the chance to read the previous two posts, you can do so here and here. But I know you must be itching to hear all of the final details from that sweet July 26th weekend so I won't make you wait any longer! Be sure to read the entire post though because I will be breaking the silence and letting you in on some news that Will and I have to share...and I mean BIG news...
...After driving around for about ten minutes, my stomach started to growl which was a good thing because we had finally arrived to where we were going for dinner. I never did find out where we were until after we had parked on the 6th floor of a parking deck, and got on an elevator and headed to the 27th floor when we were greeted by a sign that read Bentley's Restaurant on 27. I had never heard of the place but it looked AMAZING! 
After getting settled at our table, we received complimentary champagne and toasted to the start of the next chapter in our life together. Luckily, there were very few people in the restaurant, and it felt as if we were the "stars of the show" and received amazing service (which I think would be superb even if they were busy) and had the opportunity to walk around the whole restaurant and enjoy the many beautiful views of Charlotte as the sun began to settle down.
No celebratory meal of any kind should be without some sort of appetizer so we ordered the Grown-Up Macaroni and Cheese, and then got to talking about all the planning and behind-the-scene details that Will had been keeping on the down-low for weeks. But let me just say real quick that the appetizer was to-die-for and consisted of Maine Lobster, Black Truffles and three cheese sauce! Ahhhhmazing.

Okay, so as you can imagine I wanted to know every last detail and made sure Will left nothing out when he was recapping the whole planning process. It went something like this:
  • Will did in fact ask for my dad's permission and one of the comments my dad made to Will was something along the lines of "It would be a blessing from Heaven to have you officially part of the family". Yes, I am a daddy's girl and Will knew that I would say no if he didn't get my dad's permission first!
  • A picture is worth a thousand words right? Well I made sure that Will knew that I wanted someone to take photos on the day of the proposal so he made sure to find someone to do just that. The wonderfully sweet Caitlin was going to take all the photos that day but had to go out of town that weekend. Emily was going to be a part of the day one way or another so Will recruited her to be the photographer and person to get me out of the house, look decent and left as clueless as possible. Good job, you two. Oh and how could I forget to mention that Emily even came up with a hashtag for us to use. #MelandWillSealTheDeal ;-)
  • The now fiance also knew that I wouldn't want to be proposed to in front of a lot of people, but wanted to make it as special as possible so he went above and beyond what I would have even guessed and had my family in on the whole thing! Family is number one in my life besides God so this was literally the best part of the whole thing in my opinion.
  • Oh, if you didn't already know, I am extremely detail oriented and like to be organized and Will happens to be the same way to a certain degree and created an in-depth itineraries for my parents and Emily to utilize so that there was zero confusion on anything the day of. I may have laughed out loud who he told me that and asked him to show me the itineraries he created and I just had to share some of it with you...
    Melissa and I are going to go to breakfast and then the mall in the morning and will plan to get back by 1:45 pm.  I will say I  have to run into the office and then you can show up at 2:00 pm and take her to get her nails done and whatever else you think she would like to do, just make sure you keep her out of the house until at least 3:30 pm.  I’ll come back around 2:30 pm (after y’all leave and will set up some flowers and stuff, but will be gone by 3:30 pm).

    Schedule:
    2:00 pm – Emily arrives at apartment and takes Melissa to get nails done (and whatever else you think she would like to do).  Tell her that I texted you and felt bad I had to go into work and asked you to come hangout with her – doubt she will buy it but it’s worth a shot haha.

    [Keep her out of the apartment until at least 3:30]

    After 3:30 pm – Emily and Melissa return to the apartment and get ready for Dinner (I have told her we are meeting a colleague and his wife for dinner uptown tell her you are going to go meet a friend at the epicenter for drinks and you can just drive her up there since I will already be uptown at the office).

    5:40 pm – Emily and Melissa leave apartment and head to Marshall Park (address below). 
  • Will was defiantly thinking ahead and had visited the park prior to the day of to figure out the best area for him to hide, for Emily to take photos, for him to get down on one knee and to see what areas would look best in photos.
  • Remember how we were suppose to have a "dinner date" with Will's co-worker and his wife? Yeah, that was all part of the plan. Will had made all of that up! He never talked to his co-worker about going to dinner, he never went into work before "dinner" and everything was all made up.
Whew! Sorry for all the details...I didn't want to leave anything out though! After story time, we ate a delicious meal and then had to say our goodbyes to my family before they headed back home to Greensboro. Will and I finally had the chance to respond to the out pour of text messages we had and made phone calls to our family that we hadn't already talked to and told them the news. We even stopped by Menchie's for some frozen yogurt because what meal is complete without dessert? And plus, it's so good and hard to pass up. 

And that's pretty much how the story goes, y'all! Don't you think Will did an AMAZING job with everything?! I couldn't be more excited to be his fiance and future wife! We are having a ball planning for our wedding and i'm happy to say that we both agree that we want a marriage more beautiful than our wedding. I think we both realized that while we were completing PRE-ENGAGEMENT courses. Yeah, those do exist and if you're serious about your relationship, any and all the help you can get is worth it! But why would Will and I feel that we needed to take pre-engagement classes before pre-marital classes? Well...I'll tell you why. Part of the reason is because of our big announcement...

WE ARE MOVING TO HOUSTON, TEXAS!Houston Home Sweet Home! Plan to stay in my hometown when i have a family so my kids can grow up around their grandparents

Goodness, it feels so good to finally be able to say that out loud! Will and I have known for some time now, but wanted to make sure that we were not letting our excitement get the best of us! We will be moving down before we get married next June and are going to visit over Labor Day weekend to look at apartments and townhouses! We plan to look in the Galleria and Rice Village areas but will need to be pretty close to Post Oak Parkway where Will's office is located.

This leads me to letting you all know why Houston. Will currently works at a middle-market investment bank here in Charlotte as an Analyst, and typically an analyst is in that role for two years before they start applying for an associate level position. Well, Will completed his second year last year and his firm thought he had been doing so well that they offered him to stay on for a third year which is usually unheard of. Of course he accepted and has been excelling at what he does. All of the long hours and hard work paid off, but like any analyst, one must start applying and looking for associate positions since that is the next step if you plan to stay in this type of business. 

So a few months ago, Will traveled and interviewed with firms in multiple states, New York, Boston, and Washington DC to name only a few. We decided to take New York off the list pretty earlier on just because it wouldn't be an ideal place for us to live. Washington DC was next off the list since there weren't that many options that Will was interested in. But a great opportunity came around for Will and I to move down to Houston where his firm has another location that is in need of an associate. Yet again, Will has gone above and beyond in his current role and has proved how strong his work ethic truly is. And the rest is history!

I can't begin to explain to you all how happy I am with all that God has done in my life and I am beyond excited to see what kind of adventures God has in store for us in Houston. Even though I have never lived in a state other then North Carolina, yet alone more than two hours hours away from my parents, this move isn't our "final destination". An associate role generally goes for about two years and from there we will decide what we want to do.

In the coming weeks and months, I would love to hear from y'all on any recommendations you might have for places to go and things to do!
   

August 6, 2014

The Answer Is YES: Marshall Park

For those of you who missed my first post recapping my proposal, you can read all about it here! Okay...now that your caught up from the first post, it's finally time to move on to the second half of the story. Are you ready?
...Last week, I left off letting you know that Emily was going to be dropping me off for my "dinner date" with Will, his co-worker and his wife Uptown. So let's pick back up right as Emily and I are pulling out of the complex I live in, heading towards Uptown Charlotte. At this point, I was under the impression that Emily was going to be dropping me off at The Vue (an apartment complex) where I would be meeting Will in the lobby so that we could ride up in the elevator together to hangout with his co-worker and his wife before heading to dinner. Instead, Emily makes a "wrong turn" and we end up at Marshall Park. Can you spot Will in the photo below?
Fun fact: you might recognize this park from either living in Charlotte or from watching Homeland. Do you remember a scene shown in Season One (I think it was the 10th episode), when a suitcase explodes at a park that Carrie is at? Yep, that my friends was Marshall Park!
Okay, back to the story. All of a sudden after we are "turning around", Emily pulls into a parking spot and I confusingly ask her what she is doing, when all of a sudden I look out towards the park and see my Mom, Dad, and Uncle Perry. YEAHHH...you better believe I was beyond shocked and I might have got teary eyed and said "Shut up" and "Nu-uh" a hundred times before Emily told me to get out of the car!
I open the car door and for some reason my first thought was to crouch down and hide behind Emily's car...for whatever reason, I am not sure why I did that! After what seemed like hours hiding behind Emily's car, I walked towards my family, gave everyone a hug, and without even thinking (again), I blurt out "do y'all want to take a selfie?". Let's just say when I am extremely excited or confused I make no sense AT ALL! That and I can't control my laughter or giddiness. 
After asking my parents how the drive from Greensboro was and trying to figure out what was going on, my dad suggested that we go check out all the ducks playing in the water. To be honest, I wasn't interested in going to watch ducks swim, but wanted to try and get someone to answer all my questions...however this was all part of the plan to get me across the bridge to the other side of the park.
Fast forward to us crossing over the bridge, when I notice that Emily is no where in sight. I start to wonder where she had run off to when I spot Will's car in the distance. Let's just say it was parked in a semi-visible area and my short attention span (thanks ADD) was drawn to that and trying to figure out were he was. It was impossible...like trying to find Waldo with no luck of course. After a brief moment of awkwardly standing by myself, I spot Will walking down from one side of the park and it was right then and there that I knew that the moment I had been waiting for was about to happen any minute now...
After I got a few awkward laughs out, I gave Will a big hug (and kiss) and let him take it from there. All I remember is Will grabbing my hands and asking me if I knew how much he loved me. Of course Will said some other really sweet things, but I honestly can't even remember what he said! So yes, to all you gals who think you will remember what your beau says, don't bet on it! More then likely, you'll be on Cloud 9 and not able to fully concentrate. The next day I even ask Will if he remembered what he said and sure enough he didn't either!
But the story doesn't stop here, friends! After taking a handful of photos, showing off my beautiful bling to the family, and thanking Emily a thousand times for being a part of the surprise of a lifetime, it was time to go to dinner. And yes, I even asked if Will's co-worker and his wife were still coming...but sadly they were not! We will save that double date for another day. Will and I finally got in the car, and I just had to take another photo showing off the ring so that I could send it out to everyone in our phones (just kidding...it was mainly to family, friends and everyone I follow on Snapchat, ha!).  
At this point Will would still not tell me where we were going to dinner so I was faced with yet another surprise I had to wait for...and you'll have to come back again next Wednesday to find out where we ended up going, to hear all of the details on how Will planned the whole proposal and most importantly, to find out what the BIG NEWS we have to share is! For those of you who already know what i'm talking about, act like you don't, mmk? :) 
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