Charlotte Blogger Meetup at The Gallery South End

October 19, 2016

Long time, no see! A small hiatus on the blog followed by an amazing meet up with some of the best bloggers and influencers in Charlotte seems to be just the cure for my blogger blues.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to meet these lovely ladies (and gentlemen!) at The Gallery South End. To be honest I was extremely nervous going into it. What do I wear? Do I bring blogger business cards? Who is going to be there? All of that fear melted away when I saw Joey from Bliss Creative. I’ve known Joey for about four years now through the blogging world and had the chance to meet her in person a few months ago. People like Joey are few and far between. This woman is a rockstar and she encourages everyone she meets to find the inner rockstar within themselves. She is so stinkin’ supportive!

The Gallery was a gorgeous venue for our meetup. A cafe plus art gallery with beautiful paintings on top of white-painted brick walls and adorable furniture? It looked like it had jumped straight off of my screen from Pinterest and into the real. Ana, the owner of The Gallery, welcomed us with open arms and showered us with lots of delicious food and mimosas.

The other partner for the event was CLTivate. This non-profit was created by Zack, whose story is so inspiring. He moved to Charlotte a few years ago and his cause is close to my heart. I’m so happy to have met him! We all got CLTivate tees in our swag bags and I’ve worn mine so many times already. It reminds me just how awesome this city is and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Overall I’m just so happy to have finally found like-minded people in Charlotte. Being away from my Houston community has been harder than I thought it would be and I’ve missed connecting with these young creative minds. I hope it’s not the last time we all get together! (Photos by Rabi Majid)







Fall 2016 TV Preview

September 19, 2016

It’s finally here! New TV shows are premiering this week and I can’t wait to start watching them all. Historically I haven’t been great at picking winners (My picks for Fall 2014 included a few that have stuck around and a few that were canceled after just a few episodes.) so I try to watch at least the first episode of anything I think looks good. It’s going to be extra hard this year because GASP, we don’t currently have a DVR. Needless to say, some extra planning is totally necessary.

So, let’s check out what’s premiering this fall on the various networks. Note that this list is all kinds of biased/sarcastic and may not include everything you’re looking for! It’s just my take on things. If you’re looking for more straight info, visit TV Guide’s Fall Preview. Also note that I did not include midseason premieres due to length, but hope to share those in a few months!

Fall 2016 TV Preview
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How to Save Money at the Movies

September 7, 2016

Last year Nick and I saw 27 movies in theaters and this year we’ve seen 34 so far.

Just let that sink in for a second. Yes, I know we are insane.

A lot of people ask us how we see so many new releases, and we always tell them its about getting familiar with your local theater chain. Before we dive into the details, I wanted to explain exactly why we are so interested in movies. (You can read more about this challenge here.)

A few years ago Nick and I realized that we were very lacking in our movie knowledge. Growing up we tended to watch the same movies repeatedly and never really explored any of the classics. Plus, tons of movies were being released each month that just added to the list of movies we hadn’t seen. In February 2015, we noticed that our local Cinemark location was doing an Oscar Movie Week, with all eight Best Picture nominees being shown once or twice over one week. We decided to accept the challenge and saw every movie, finishing the last one (Birdman) just hours before it won Best Picture at the Oscars. As you might imagine, seeing eight movies in one week quickly turned trips to the movie theater into a habit. We started seeing movies more frequently and before we knew it, we were seeing one or two movies a week. I’m proud to call myself a movie junkie, but we still have a long way to go!

How to Save Money at the Movies

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September 2016 Goals

August 30, 2016

Making a post about my goals for August seems a little ridiculous , so I’m skipping July and going straight to September. Between my birthday, going to New York and work starting to pick up, blogging has fallen by the wayside. (And that’s okay!)

Before I elaborate on that, let’s revisit my goals from July…

Goal #1 – Finish reading “Outlander.” FAIL. So I didn’t finish reading “Outlander” because Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out. I’m a medium-speed reader but I can’t stand to sit still for longer than like 30 minutes at a time so while my friends finished it in just a couple of hours, it took me a few days. I also received the “Hamilton: An American Musical” annotated script (also known as Hamiltome) for my birthday and I’m almost finished with that. So I’ve read two books since July, and I’d call that a win.

Goal #2 – Plan our NYC itinerary and purchase tickets for any shows/tours we want to do. CHECK! I blogged about our NYC trip earlier this month. Although we didn’t get to everything on our list, we made quite a dent in it. Impressive for being there for only three full days!

Goal #3 – Organize my closet. I never got around to doing this to the extent that I wanted to, but I did clean it up and try to evaluate what I had available to me. To be honest I’ve started wearing fall pieces because I’m trying to will the cool weather into existence. We’ll see if it works. I’ll keep you posted.

Goal #4 – Blog at least twice a week. I didn’t exactly hit my goal of twice a week, but I did blog more frequently than I have in the past few months. I’d call that a win!

Goal #5 – Attempt our “month with no going out to eat.” Okay, well I thought this was something we were going to try but apparently I did not communicate that properly with my sweet hubby. Oops. Now since we are watching what we eat, we are eating out less during the week. (But the weekend is still an issue…)

september goals

Recently I’ve been spending more and more time thinking about the future. To me, I’d rather spend my time doing something that I love and not something I’m obligated to do. So what does that mean?

#1 – I’m blogging for me, not anyone else. I feel like I go through waves on the blog between really loving it and feeling like it’s a chore. But over five years, I feel like I’ve never “gotten it,” whatever that means.

Back in the day when blogging meant sharing weekend recaps and swapping sidebar ads and linking up for silly reasons any day of the week. The blog world as it is now is different. Last week I made a big decision to leave all blogger share groups on Facebook and Instagram pods. I’m not participating in follow or comment threads anymore. I don’t want it to seem like I don’t want to support fellow bloggers, but I don’t want it to be done in a superficial way. I want any comments I receive to be genuine and not influenced by an obligation to comment. In return, any likes or comments I leave are because I want to, not because I’m being forced to.

As for my blogging related goals, that’s just it. I’m not going to have any. Other than a reminder to myself to not get swept up in numbers and comments and followers and likes, I’m going to try my hardest to blog for myself and no one else. That’s not to say I won’t be sharing my favorite foods, products, places, etc. but I’m trying to be less influenced by the rat race of it all. That’s all I’ll say for now about this topic (as I could go on forever).

#2 – Continue to log food in my Fitbit app and work out. Last week I was on point. I was making clean meals, snacking on fairly healthy things, all while letting myself enjoy some things (namely Starbucks and movie theatre popcorn). I was also walking at least 3 miles a day. I had more energy, felt happier, and slept better. Over the weekend I slipped but I’m hoping to hop back on the wagon. Although I do have a goal weight in mind, I’m more concerned with changing my lifestyle and just doing better in general.

#3 – Say “yes” more. I know that we as women are encouraged to say “no” more, and I honestly think I’ve gotten to the point now where I say “no” to everything. Instead of making up excuses about why I shouldn’t do something, I want to start asking myself “why not?” For example, last week was the first preseason Panthers game. I haven’t been to a game in Charlotte before but decided I wanted to go and we bought tickets just a few hours before game time. It was spontaneous and we had a fantastic time. I want to start taking advantage of my surroundings and sit on my butt less.

I know these are very generic and not very measurable, but it’s what’s on my mind for this month! We’ll see how it goes.

What are your goals for September? Is there anything in your life you want to improve on?

Welcome to New York (Recap)

August 19, 2016

Even though we’ve been back for almost a week, I’m still getting used to life back in small town South Carolina after spending five days in New York City! To say things are different is an understatement.

The trip, spurred by an extremely lucky chance at two decently-priced “Hamilton” tickets, was meant to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and my 27th birthday, both of which had passed the two weeks prior to our trip. (In case you missed it, I recapped my thoughts on seeing Hamilton live yesterday on the blog.) If you can believe it, Nick and I haven’t flown together since 2014 when we visited DC, so going on a “proper” trip was long overdue.

The Hotel

NYLO NYC Hotel - New York City - Upper West Side

Nick and I spent a lot of time looking (and stressing) over where we were going to stay. I knew that NYC was pricey and the rooms were notoriously tiny. Not so great for a girl who’s claustrophobic an d on a limited budget. After lots of searching we eventually settled on the NYLO NYC hotel. We stayed at a NYLO location in Plano, TX a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience, so we knew the caliber of the hotel. The lobby of the hotel was absolutely gorgeous and our room was too. (It was very small, but we made it work. Plus the bed was insanely comfortable.) If you’re looking for a moderately priced hotel in NYC, we definitely recommend NYLO. It’s located in the Upper West Side on Broadway and 77th, so it was easy to walk to the subway and had lots of great food options within just a few blocks.

Tip: No matter what you’re planning to see in NYC, this hotel is a great location. It was just two blocks away from Central Park and the Museum of Natural History, both of which are great things to see!

The Food

Nice Matin - New York City - Brunch - Upper West Side

Speaking of food, it’s a pretty important thing to us when we are traveling! But because we did SO MUCH WALKING during the day that we stuck close to our hotel for dinner each night. Many of my recommendations came from blog friends (especially Betsy) and they did not disappoint. We didn’t really hit the ~hot spots~ (in Hell’s Kitchen or anywhere in lower Manhattan really) because we didn’t want to spend tons of money on food this trip. Favorites included Nice Matin for brunch, Luke’s Lobster for a quick dinner, and Celeste Pizza* for some yummy Italian. We also hit up Gray’s Papaya (Nick liked it more than I did) and Shake Shake (I liked it more than Nick did.) The star of the trip was absolutely Levain Bakery. If you go, you HAVE to get the chocolate cookies. They are divine and unlike anything I’ve had before.

Tip: Many places we went to only accepted cash. It’s probably a good idea to carry cash with you when visiting NYC. There are ATMs all over the place and since we bank with Bank of America there was always one nearby. (Not sponsored, just the truth)

The Sights

While we had a general idea of the kinds of things we wanted to see while in NYC, we tried not to schedule too much so that we could enjoy being on vacation! Two things we purchased prior to our trip was tickets for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island and The Tour at NBC Studios. Both of these attractions fill up early so you want to make sure to purchase them prior to your trip.

Since we waited to buy tickets until the week before our trip, we were only able to visit the grounds of the Statue of Liberty and weren’t able to go into the podium or crown, but it was the perfect amount of “playing tourist” for me. An audio tour is included in your ticket price so we took these and walked the perimeter of the island, which took about an hour. We knew it would be busy and very hot since we visited in August so we took the ferry that departed from Battery Park at 8:30 a.m. It was the perfect time to go, even if it did rain a little. Ellis Island was definitely worth checking out as well. Seeing the huge registry room took my breath away. You could feel the history on this entire island.

Manhattan - New York City - Statue of Liberty

Tip: Take travel sized umbrellas with you if there’s even a slight chance of rain in the forecast. We were saved by these twice on our trip.

After departing on the ferry from Ellis Island, we made the 10 minute walk to Trinity Church. Prior to my “Hamilton” obsession, I knew this church from a movie I watch more often than I might admit: National Treasure. (No lie, I watched it last night on HBO.) In addition to the historical nature of the church, I really wanted to see the graves of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler Church.

Alexander Hamilton grave - Trinity Church - New York City

Tip: In the last song in Hamilton, Eliza sings that Angelica is buried at Trinity Church near Hamilton. Well in this case, “near” is a relative term. In fact, she’s buried on the other side of the church towards the back of the graveyard. There’s an American flag and historical marker that indicates her plot.

Angelica Schuyler Church - Trinity Church - New York City

A short jaunt over a few blocks from Trinity Church is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. This was such a surreal experience, even though we didn’t enter the museum itself. The footprints of each tower is now a memorial fountain. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go (I’m not great at handling emotional things like that) but I’m glad we visited. I think the most heart-wrenching thing was seeing a construction worker just walking around and visiting the memorial on his lunch break. Even with him living in the city, he took time out of his day to visit and pay respect. It was really touching!

That afternoon we took The Tour at NBC Studios, which was a real treat! I’m a huge fan of the NBC network and its shows so it was so cool to be able to see the studios where things are done. Since the Olympics were going on, basically the entire NBC team is in Rio so we didn’t have any sightings. But because of that, Jimmy Fallon’s show was on a break and we were able to tour his studio. It’s much smaller than you might think! We also got to see the studio where they film SNL and it’s also much smaller than it looks. TV magic, I suppose.

NBC Studios - Rainbow Room - New York City

Friday we spent the morning out of the sun (it was BRUTAL, y’all) and inside at the Museum of Natural History. Yes, this is the one from Night at the Museum! Having visited many museums in DC and Houston, I was very impressed with the quality of the exhibits.

Tip: You should be wearing comfortable shoes through the whole trip but especially here at the Museum. It took us about three and a half hours to do the whole thing. I accidentally wore flats instead of my comfy sneakers and my feet were killing me! 

We continued our day of museums and visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) that afternoon. On Fridays beginning at 4 p.m. the museum is free admission so we took advantage of that! Unfortunately so did EVERYONE ELSE IN NEW YORK CITY. It was extremely packed. But the chance to see Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and and Monet’s “Water Lillies” up close was totally worth the crowd. This was one of my favorite things we did in NYC.

The Shows

Hamilton Musical - Richard Rogers Theatre - New York City

If you read my Hamilton post from earlier this week, you’ll know that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Being able to see a show on Broadway was such a cool experience. And for it to have been the reigning Tony Award winner for Best Musical? Even better. I won’t go into how much I loved it again, but I highly highly recommend it for anyone at all.

We ended our trip to NYC on Friday night with another Broadway show, The Color Purple. It also won a Tony this year for Best Revival of a Musical and its lead actress, Cynthia Erivo, won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical. Plus my girl Danielle Brooks (she’s from South Carolina!) from “Orange is the New Black” was also in the play. Having known nothing about the play before we saw it was a little challenging (sometimes it was hard to follow) but the music and performances by the cast were flawless. Cynthia brings tears to my eyes anytime she opened her mouth, and Danielle was the perfect comic relief. It was a great show!

The Color Purple - Jacobs Theatre - New York City

The Transportation

Getting from LaGuardia to the Upper West Side was fairly simple. We opted for a private taxi since there were two of us and the trip only took about 20-25 minutes. I believe we paid $35 plus tip for the ride. For me it was so much less of a hassle than the subway might have been.

However, we did take the subway for everything else on our trip. It’s easily the cheapest option and while it might not be the easiest or most glamorous, it is fairly quick and helps you save a few bucks. For our purposes we only ever took the “1” train (it’s the red line) that runs north to south. When we went to the Statue of Liberty we took it from the 79th street station to Battery Park which was right beside the ferry. Mostly we took in to the 50th street station which is just north of Times Square.

When leaving the hotel to get back to the airport the hotel offered a private car which was very nice. We encountered a little bit of traffic but nothing too bad. We had time to eat lunch before our flight (The Delta/American Airlines terminal in LaGuardia has some pretty good food!) and I even took a short nap while waiting to board our flight back to Charlotte.

Overall we really enjoyed our trip to New York and even though we didn’t do everything that we had hoped to do, it was both a relaxing trip and also full of excitement!

Have you ever been to NYC? Were you able to take a trip this summer?