Weekend Recap

We had a wonderful and relaxing weekend at our lakehouse.  Friday night, I arrived around 8 - just in time for dinner.  Laura made gorgeous macarons for dessert.  Since she and I have the same macaron recipe book (remember this post?), I'll definitely be recreating the blueberry cheesecake macarons below:

Saturday brought lots of treats, too -- like the afternoon cocktail we had with champagne and a few splashes of cranberry-raspberry juice.  Super tasty.

Drake had lots of fun adventures gallivanting around with our family's dog, Tipsy.  The two of them are a sight to see -- a large, old dog and a small, young dog ... but they are doggie BFFs.

Tipsy spent a good portion of the afternoon watching this swimming loon intently....

The weather was so warm that we all laid out on the dock in bathing suits.  (This is my sister Laura, and she's reading Water For Elephants, which I recently read and loved.)

Before leaving Sunday, I made sure to get some good clippings from the rosemary bushes on either side of the deck.  For dinner last night, I baked a few fillets of fish with artichoke hearts, lemon, herbes de provence, and rosemary sprigs.

Drake and I rolled down the windows on the way back to Charlotte and just enjoyed the breeze.

I came back early enough to drop Drake off at home and head down to Pewter Rose Bistro for brunch with the girls.  These girls' husbands/fiances were also at Ian's bachelor weekend in Snowshoe, WV.  I can now say that all guys came back with no broken bones ... thank goodness!

Brunch was fantastic.  Pewter Rose brings all tables their signature butterscotch scones, which are fantastic.  I had one mimosa and one Pom mimosa along with their quiche du jour and delicious home fries.  We girls had such a great time together, we already have another brunch scheduled for a few weeks out!


Dress Fitting & Weekend Plans

I mentioned yesterday that I had an appointment for my first dress fitting, and it couldn't have gone better!  The dress is just as beautiful as I imagined it {I'd seen too many Say Yes episodes where the bride's first exclamation was "Hmm - that's not how I remembered it looking!" or "That's not my dress!"}.  I was joined by my mother, my Aunt Karen, and Marsha, my future MIL.

Bride-to-be / Mother of the bride / Aunt of the bride / Mother of the groom

Of course I can't show you any pictures from yesterday, so you'll just have to wait until May!  But I will tell you one little clue:  It's a Watters dress.  Can you guess which one?  After the fitting we walked to a nearby restaurant and all sat down for a glass of wine and some good conversation.  It was a wonderful bonding time between my mother, aunt, and future mother-in-law.  They have so many similarities - for example, both Mom and Marsha's families had 4 children: 3 girls and a boy, and in the same birth order of girl/girl/boy/girl.  Marsha told some really endearing stories about Ian, and about what an "absolute joy" he was as a baby.  I found myself getting a little teary-eyed thinking about my handsome fiance being a sweet cooing and smiling joy of a baby.

The fun will continue this weekend as I head down to the lakehouse for a girls' weekend with Mom, Aunt Karen, and my youngest sister Laura.  We'll spend the weekend chatting, reading books, doing a lot of cooking, and drinking wine.  Our dog Drake will come down with me and he'll have a wonderful time frolicking around with Cooper (Aunt Karen's cocker spaniel) and Tipsy (our family's Jack Russell-ish dog).  Pictures to come!  Enjoy your weekend!

PS - You know your Friday is going to be a good one when you walk in to your office at 8:30 in the morning to find this on your desk waiting for you:

Please excuse the poor quality of my Blackberry camera, but that is a stack of 4 magazines (a co-worker and I do a mag swap), a Nutella cupcake, and my wedding invitations!


Ian's Bachelor Weekend

Ian hit the road last night with some buddies to head up to Snowshoe, WV for his bachelor party weekend.  There are a total of 17 (yes - you read that right, seventeen!) guys going this weekend to celebrate with him.  They've rented a big house and they'll spend the long weekend skiing, snowboarding, and having an adult beverage or two.

Of course I had to give him a little surprise to get the weekend started off for him:

Yes, my friends, that is an industrial-sized laundry basket filled to the brim with all sorts of goodies - 2 bags of Kettle Chips, some Cool Ranch Doritos, 3 boxes of Nutri-Grain bars, Nabs, Rice Krispies Treats, cheese balls, Snickers, Reeses, almonds, beef jerkey, Tom's Hot Fries, Star Crunches, some Powerade Zeros, and - of course - some Advil.  I swear, I've never bought so much junk food in any given year of my life as what I purchased in one store trip yesterday.

When he first got home from work I told him I had a surprise waiting for him on the counter and he was shocked to see this!  He was so happy and thankful and excited to show the other guys.

I know it won't come close to lasting them all weekend, but it should get them off to a good start.  This weekend while the boys are away I'll be getting together with my mom, my aunt, and my youngest sister (whose boyfriend is on the same ski trip) for a relaxing weekend at our lakehouse. 

By the way -- tonight is my first wedding dress fitting, and I'm ecstatic!


Nectar Of The {Hair} Gods

Today I got on an elevator with three women (and one unlucky man, being subjected to this conversation).

I heard one of the women in the group say to someone "Wow, you have really great hair!"

There was a pause of silence until I spun around to see that she was SPEAKING TO ME!  (Insert incredulous look, hand flying up to my chest while I say "Who, me?")

This never happens.  I never get hair compliments.  Recently Annie left a comment on one of my posts complimenting my hair.  I was kinda flabbergasted but utterly happy.

This elevator lady said "Oh yes.  It's so voluminous.  I was cursed with baby fine hair."  Well gals, I was too.  And so I began a quick run-down to these ladies of my hair secret -- all I could fit in from the 4th floor to the 1st floor lobby, where we parted ways.

Here's the hair secret.  Aveda Volumizing Tonic.  My hairstylist in Columbia introduced me to this amazing spritz a few months back.  I spray it at my roots and mist the rest of my hair, and then blow dry quickly.  If you don't blow dry quickly, it'll get tacky.  Trust me.  But do a little of the lift-at-the-roots with a round brush trick up top and you'll have lots of Shania-style lift.  It truly is the nectar of the {hair} gods. 


E-Readers: Hold My Hand

Attention all Kindle and Nook owners: I need some hand-holding.

Kindle vs. Nook

It's time for me to purchase my first e-reader!  On my trip to Seattle last week, I sat on the plane by a Kindle owner.  By the time we reached our first connection in Phoenix, I was sold.  Here I was with my big wonderful book that I'd just finished (prompting me to need to find a bookstore for another read for the trip home) and I saw how easy and effortless her e-reader was.  Had I owned one, I would already have another book ready for me to begin -- without the added bulk.  I asked her a million questions and knew I needed one ... and quick!

Don't get me wrong; I'm an old-school reader.  I love the feel of a good heavy book, the smell of an old book, and the turning of the pages.  I won't ever stop buying books, checking them out from the library, or borrowing one from a girlfriend.  But I can see the definite advantages of owning a slim and sleek e-reader for plane flights and vacations.

So what do you suggest?  Do you have a preference for either one?  Any tech-savvy readers out there with definite advantages/disadvantages of either?  I need you to hold my hand and show me the way!


A Little Shopping in Berkeley, CA

So my time here in Berkeley has been spent doing a little bit of work and a little bit of shopping!  Actually - scratch that - make that a lot of work and as much shopping as I could fit in.  With days beginning with a 3:30am wake-up call, I had to make sure I was getting plenty of rest at night.  All started out well with an upgrade at my hotel to a room with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Close to my hotel is Fourth Street, which is a really cute road with lots of great shops and restaurants.  I made my first stop at Paper Source, which we don't have close to where I live.  And I'm a stationery NUT.

So of course I walked away with a package.  :)  I bought 20 white circular flat notecards and some square envelopes to fit them in -- 10 in Curry, 10 in Pool.  The colors are a pretty golden yellow and an aqua.

Making my way down Fourth, I spotted a C&B outlet.  We're registered at C&B so I was curious to see if I could get any of our pieces at a discounted price and have them shipped down to us.  While they didn't have the specific glassware I was looking for {these, if you're curious}, I did fall in love with a leather chair with a dark green velvet cushion that I had to tear myself away from.  

Continuing down Fourth, I was in awe at some of the window displays.  Check out this one with life-sized chef mannequins and lots of whimsical details at Molly B ...

... and this one with gorgeous colors at Z Gallerie.  

I stopped in Z Gallerie to drool over this mirrored buffet {want to buy it for me? here ya go.}

It was getting dark and I was getting pretty hungry.  I'd heard great things from my client about Sabuy Sabuy II {and cross-referenced it with stellar reviews on Yelp} so I headed there for some Thai food.  Yes, I had Thai food for lunch the day prior in Portland -- but Ian's not crazy about curry, so I'm loading up on as much of it as I can handle on this trip before returning home today!

My green curry dish included chicken, tofu, red and yellow peppers, and broccoli.  It was great but so spicy that my nose kept running like crazy.  At least I was dining solo and not on a date!  Right as I was dying from the heat, they brought me a complimentary tasting of their homemade ice creams.  Can you guess the flavors?  Pistachio and grape?  Nahhh, keep guessing!

How about asparagus and mulberry raspberry?  Ding ding ding!  You guessed right!  The asparagus was my favorite -- it was fresh and green tasting.  Does that make sense?  It was so different than what I'm used to, and it was sooooooooo .... Berkeley.  :)  I think that's why I liked it.

Time for me to head to the airport for my trip home today - I'll get home around 7:15 tonight and not a moment too soon!  TGIF!


A Bit Of Portland

I wrapped up a day of work in Portland and had just 3 hours to spare before my flight to Oakland and short drive to Berkeley.  A few days earlier I'd contacted my freshman and sophomore year roomate, Lauren, who has been living in Portland for about 6 years.  She was free to get together, and she did a fantastic job of showing me around.

After a great lunch at a Thai restaurant, we drove around the downtown area.  I knew I needed a good book for my next few flights since I'd finished Water For Elephants so quickly.  I picked up Incendiary by Chris Cleave, the same author of Little Bee

This book didn't come from any ol' bookstore, it came from Powell's Books ... a true Portland landmark.  The store takes up an entire city block and has more than a million books in stock.  They even have a special room entitled "Rare Books" that seems pretty magical.

With my new book tucked away in my purse, we decided a cocktail was in order.  We went a block over to Clyde Common and arrived right in time for happy hour.  And from the look of this menu, can you guess what I just had to order?

Yep, one good Heavy Petting!  And it was perfection.

Drinks in hand, we walked next door to the adjacent Ace Hotel -- a very hip boutique hotel.  The decor and philosophy is a mash-up of vintage and eco-friendly.  Very cool. 

Right in the lobby is a photobooth where we snapped these pics and then laughed about them back at Clyde Common's bar while we sipped the last bit of our cocktails.

It was a lovely and quick 3-hour tour of Portland, and there's nothing like connecting with an old friend.  Portland, I bid you adieu, but I'll be back.  Ta-ta for now!


Exploring Seattle

Yesterday after I finished working in Seattle, I ventured out to explore a bit.  My hotel shuttle driver dropped me off right in the heart of downtown at Pike Place Market.  It was a grey and dreary day, but I didn't mind one bit.  I mean, it's Seattle for goodness sakes!

Of course at the market there was a lot of great fish and seafood available.  If I lived locally, you better believe I would have picked up some of those beautiful big crabs.

There were lots of stands in the market with colorful produce.  The purple Peruvian potatoes also would have headed home in my grocery bag.  Probably some of those veggie chips too!

Fried chicken livers and chicken hearts?  No thanks!  I'll pass on those.  Kinda made me feel like I was back in the South again!

For lunch I headed right across the street to Beecher's, where I got a fantastic sandwich.  They come wrapped in thick white paper with a Beecher's sticker right on top.

My grilled sandwich had thick slices of smoked turkey along with tomato slices and lots of good cheese.  It was perfectly gooey. 

I sat on an old milk jug stool at a countertop and looked right through the glass to watch them making the cheese in front of me.  And yes, those are huge blocks of cheese in the foreground of the picture!

Their cheese selection in the store was just insane.

After checking out the market and having lunch, I headed to Nordstrom Rack.  I tried on lots of cute dresses and almost ended up taking a pretty and colorful Tory Burch blouse home with me, but at the last minute decided to pass on it.  I have a little bit of non-buyer's remorse today, not gonna lie.

And I ended the afternoon with some hot blackberry tea and lemon and vanilla bean macarons at a great French bakery, Le Panier.  This place is just wonderful.  I sat on a wooden stool looking out the front window to the goings-on at the market and just enjoyed the time to people watch.

So now my Portland adventure begins, and then Berkeley will get a visit on Thursday.  Friday is my day to travel back home.  While this has all been a lot of fun and a nice adventure, it will be so nice to have a low-key evening with the boy and the dog back in North Carolina. 


Hello from Rainy Seattle!

I'm here in Seattle and need to tell you to please walk, no - RUN (!) out and get your hands on Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen.  This book is amazing.  I was only a few dozen pages in before my plane flights yesterday, and I finished it completely on the flight.  Couldn't put it down.

{image from}
And I'm sure you already know, but it will be coming out soon as a film with an amazing cast - Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson ... think they'll have good chemistry? 

My vote is a resounding YES.
I liked this one almost as much -- if not equally -- as the book I posted about in this post.


Love Love Love

Valentines Day: love it or hate it?
Me -- I LOVE IT.

I'm such a gosh darn hopeless romantic.  To Ian's credit, he does a great job of realizing my needs & wants even though he's not as mushy by nature as I am.  We don't do gifts per se, but we always do cards.  Last night we went out to dinner at Lulu in Charlotte to celebrate, and we had a really tasty meal.  I fly out today for the West coast, so he'll probably celebrate V-day tonight with buffalo wings and various sports channels.  :)

This morning before he left for work, we traded Valentines cards.  He also had a card for me that Mom secretly slipped him when we saw her this weekend.  It was a perfect start to the morning.  Mom always mails me a Valentines Day card, and it hit me the other day that she doesn't know my present address (we're still staying with friends while we are waiting to find and close on a house).  I assumed at that point that I wouldn't be getting a card from her.  It was an awesome surprise when I realized she'd outsmarted me!

Ian's card was very sweet and mentioned that he can't wait to marry me this May.  Our wedding date is getting closer and closer!  Okay, all of you married folks -- lay it on me.  What's your secret for a blissful marriage?


Hopsy's Pink Swap & Giveaways

When I saw Hopsy's blog post about the Pink Swap, I knew I wanted to join!

Basic premise: Pick out at least 4 things with a max budget of $30 that are pink (or green!) and something really special that you'd like to receive, box it all up, and send to your assigned partner.

Lucky me - I was assigned cute Megan of the blog Small Apartment Big Life!  Do you know Megan?  Click on over and pay her a visit.

So when our company mailroom man came to my office door with a big brown box, I was thrilled!

And then I noticed that all of the gifts were individually wrapped -- too cute.  (I individually wrapped my gifts to Megan in pink tissue paper, too ... kindred souls!)

So my first treat was this Rosebud Salve - which I love.  I have the strawberry flavor/scent so was SO thrilled to get an original scented one.

And did I mention that the box smelled diviiiiiiine when I opened it?  I quickly found why when I opened this package next -

... to find this!

A completely delicious-smelling bath bomb.  Ya'll, I can't even do this thing justice trying to describe the heavenly scent.  So onto my next gift, Trader Joe's Lovey Gummy Tummies.  OMG, they are filled with a cherry gel that squirts into your mouth.  Insanity.  (The bag is almost gone, by the way.)

And as if that weren't enough, then I opened these cute pink earbuds:

Too fabulous!  And I already know how I'm going to use them - they'll live in my gym bag so that when I jump on the treadmill, I can plug them into my matching pink phone (!!!) and listen to my favorite Pandora stations!  Look at this perfect match:

I'll be the flyest gal at the gym.  :)  So then I opened this beauty, a Kate Spade green and white striped bowl -- perfect for a bowl of granola cereal, fresh fruit, or pasta!  Or should I keep it on a table by the door as a catch-all?  Decisions, decisions.

And lastly, the strangest gift of all:

Why strange, you ask?  Well -- get this.  I received this box from Megan around 2pm on Wednesday.  At approximately 7pm the night before, my youngest sister Laura sent me this pic from her iPhone along with the message "Look what I got today!" and I responded back to her "Ahhhhhh jealous!"

Ya'll.  YA'LL.  How wierd is that?  I just couldn't believe that within 24 hours I had the very book that I was coveting of Laura's.  And this book is amazing.  All types of macarons, which I am absolutely in love with.  Laura's going to try to make them soon and I'll have to join her. Check out the rose water and green tea macarons below ... how great do those sound?

So all in all, the Pink Swap was amazing and I was happy to be paired up with Megan.  Curious about what I got her?  Check out this post.

Speaking of pink, have you entered the giveaway at Shasta Anne for the Clarisonic Mia? Click here and enjoy her sweet blog while you're there.  Tons of great fashion inspiration, and just a really fun read in general!

Also, another favorite blog of mine, Let The Tide Pull Your Dreams Ashore, is doing a giveaway for a $50 gift card to CSN stores.  Click here and introduce yourself!

Hope you all have a great weekend ahead of you.  Ian and I have lots of househunting to do along with a meeting with the officiant for our wedding and a taste-testing with a caterer.  And what I'm looking forward to most of all - a Valentines dinner date on Sunday night at a very special place, Lulu
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