Thursday, October 28, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.28.21

My berneMOOdle

Howl-O-Ween is right around the corner and sadly, my kiddos are past costumes and dressing up this year. Thankfully, I have Ben to entertain myself with. I saw a shark version of this crocheted "hood" while scrolling through Instagram and toggled right over to Google to start my search. It didn't take long to find several choices and landed on ZooSnoods on Etsy. After much deliberation (Dinosaur!, Shark!, Rhino! and Yoda!), I decided on this COW design because it went so well with his handsome coat already! Doesn't he look ready for tricks and treats?

Surprise Visit

We got to do the most fun thing last weekend: surprise Piper with a visit from her sleep-away camp bestie! The two met during the summer between 2nd and 3rd grades --now they are both in high school. Merritt and her sisters travel to camp from Colorado every summer and we've always talked about making plans for a visit between summers. Finally that day came. Greg and I picked Merritt up on Friday evening while Piper was at a football game. Once I got her inside, I texted for Piper to come check in with me quickly. I wish I had my camera ready to capture the look on her face when she saw her camp bestie! The two were off and over the next few days, we delighted in their shared company when they weren't busy thrifting, eating, exploring, shopping, baking, and soaking up one another's company. Such fun!

Spoonflower Cocktail Napkins

I finally decided to be grownup enough for cotton-fabric, everyday napkins that can be pulled out as coasters, used for small casual gatherings, or family meals. What I love most about these are the size. I have plenty of cloth dinner-sized napkins and they never feel quite "right" (unless the occasion is more formal). With these new 10x10 cuties, grabbing them feels festive and simple. The best part is knowing how much softer they will become over time from multiple washings. I chose two sets of four napkins to make a mixed set --the choices are endless! (These were so tempting. As was this collection --you can't go wrong with mudcloth. And the cranes and swans in this collection too!) Spoonflower is a sustainable manufacturing company in Durham, North Carolina. Every order is custom cut and stitched and made from the design of an independent artist from around the world. Pretty cool. They do fabrics, wallpapers, bedding, decor and more! Follow them on Instagram here.

Marc Jacobs Lip

I just noticed that one of my absolute favorite lip "glosses" is on sale. I love the creamy texture and shimmer of this lip gloss stick by Marc Jacobs. It feels like a lip balm but has a lovely tint and shine that elevates it beyond your average chap stick. Supplies are limited across the board... for a neutral shade, try "One Mauve Time" direct from the website at half price. A fresh pink hue "Wet Your Lips - Apricot" is available at Sephora as is a clear version called, "Enamored (With Pride)"

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Embrace Justice Mural

Our neighborhood got a legitimate "glow up" last week when Shepard Fairey of Obey Giant graced Queens University's Gambrell Center for the Arts & Civic Engagement building with his gorgeous "Embrace Justice" mural. I must admit, the first step of this huge project was painting the red-bricked building a BRIGHT turquoise blue. I was a little confused about what the university was thinking... Very quickly though, it began to take shape and WOW. Come have a look and pop over for a sip on the porch!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.21.21


Meggie Sullivan owns and operates this cleverly-named service here in Charlotte. I've blogged about her before (a gift certificate would make a lovely gift) and had the pleasure of serving one of her gorgeous and delicious spreads this last week when some friends (and generous volunteers) joined me to help wrap gifts for The Children's Theatre's annual gift-giving experience for children, Winter Wonderland (formerly known as Santa's Bag). Meggie and I had a brief exchange of ideas and she executed to perfection on this brunch-themed board. Not only was everything delightful to look at --the quiche was the best I've ever tasted and the details were amazing! Even if you're not in the Charlotte area, give her a follow on Instagram and enjoy her creations for eye-candy and inspiration!

Gillian Stevens Art

Gillian Stevens is the designer and artisan behind Dewdrop Designs, a female owned, local-to-Charlotte, enterprise that offers original canvas art, leather accessories and jewelry, and wonderfully textured pieces made of wood, clay, beads, and glazed ceramics. I fell in love with The Last Drop. This leather knot wristlet is made from reclaimed leather and is a perfect little day or evening bag. I had a hard time choosing --but came away with the creme-colored bag.

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Walking Ben Letting Ben Just Walk

Confession time. Ben has been through some rigorous training. Knowing he was going to be a huge dog, it was important to us that he have nice manners. For a 9 month puppy, he's doing pretty well. Even though we were told in advance, we were unprepared for how much work it would be on a daily basis to reinforce and support all of the formal training he had (when we sent him to "boarding school" at 5 months). For sure, he is still sleeping in his crate --though, that was certainly the biggest battle. He is excellent when asked to stay on "place" and his recall is strong (as long as he's not distracted by something he finds interesting LOL). Having said all that, I must confess that we have stopped insisting he be held to a very high (or any real) standard on walks. Honestly, it just wasn't all that relaxing or enjoyable to have to constantly work through his multiple walks a day. Now we give him the lead to sniff, explore, (PULL), and frolic. He's still required to move aside and stay in a "sit" when other people and dogs pass us on the sidewalk --but otherwise, he just puppies around. It's so nice to be able to listen to an audio book, sip a coffee, or enjoy a conversation with whoever is walking with us --now that correcting him is not a full-time job. 

Home Bartenders

There's little I love more than a delicious cocktail that has been made with friendship and care. My friend, Anne, is famous for this. She loves mixology and has an impressive array of ingredients (and ideas) for serving her guests amazing sips. Don't get me wrong, I love a simple glass of wine or an ice-cold beer (from time to time) --but there's something extra special about the thoughtfulness that often goes into mixing a featured cocktail for an in-home evening of celebration or socializing. Enter my friend Amy. Amy hosted our neighborhood "Foodie Night" group (formed during quarantine 2020 to share recipes, inspiration, and support --and still going strong) for appetizers and drinks last week. To toast this first indoor gathering of five, she mixed fresh-squeezed juices and secret* ingredients to create perfectly refreshing margaritas and palomas. Can't you almost taste the citrus just by looking at this picture?! Cheers to that! (*Maybe the ingredients weren't necessarily a secret --but I wasn't paying enough attention to share what they were.)

Chilly Fall Evenings

We are currently experiencing "I Left My Jacket at School" weather here in Charlotte. Mornings begin in the low to mid 40ºs and as the day continues, temps rise to the high 70ºs/low 80ºs. However, for a brief evening last week, it stayed chilly enough to talk ourselves into a festive little fire pit. We ate dinner "camping style" in our laps and then enjoyed some toasted marshmallows afterward. It is such a little thing that brings us all so much happiness. I look forward to many more fire pit evenings this season!

Jane Harper

I just finished my second audio book by Jane Harper. Have you read anything from this author? Her stories are set in Australia and she writes murder/mystery. The first of her books I read was, The Lost Man --about the death of a seemingly successful and happy man in the remote Australian Outback. He is survived by two brothers, and his wife and kids. Family secrets, unexplained circumstances, and suspicion give rise to a slow-burning and suspenseful story that I didn't want to put down. The novel I just finished, The Dry, unravels the mystery surrounding the brutal murder/suicide of a family man in a small Outback town facing great hardship and draught. His childhood friend, Aaron Falk (now a federal agent), reluctantly returns to attend the funeral and gets caught up in an unofficial investigation. Again, a fairly gripping plot that kept me guessing until the end. I found both books incredibly entertaining and very well done! Listening to Steven Shanahan perform The Dry with an Aussie accent just adds another enjoyable layer to the experience. The character, Aaron Falk, from The Dry is featured in what's sure to be my next book by Jane Harper, Force of Nature. Eventually, I'll get around to reading her latest novel, The Survivors.

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.14.21

Celebrating Lulu

My mother-in-law, Linda (who we call "Lulu"), moved to Charlotte from California in March. We are so lucky to have her near after all these years on separate coasts. Her new place is less than a mile from our house and visits are often. She comes to soccer and volleyball games to watch the girls, takes care of them when we are out of town, invites us over for brunch, happy hour, and dinner... it's just really lovely to be able to take her out to celebrate her birthday. Cheers to another fabulous trip around the sun!

Pocketed Long Skirts

I just bought two new skirts from Amazon. They are light-weight, elastic banded, and a great length. I love the (faux) tie at the waist and the large pocket details. I've already worn them a few times and they are easy to pair with a t-shirt, a french-tucked button down, or a light sweater. I bought one in black and one in sunflower yellow. (They definitely needed to be steamed when they arrived.) You will also need to wear a slip with them, as the fabric is a thin blend with a light linen texture. I have no idea how well they will wash but I have no intentions of putting them through the dryer! I though the slight difference in hem (from front to back) might be a little weird --but it's not at all. My rear end manages to make a nice shelf that balances everything out. LOL The thing that's weird is the name of the company! What the heck??

Travel Steamer

To get my skirts looking great in just a few minutes, I busted out my new travel steamer. This little iSteam is awesome! We own a big Jiffy J-2000 (worth every penny) that we've had for a decade; however, our current house has no laundry room and the washer and dryer are two floors away from the bedrooms. Our big steamer is supposed to live in the guest bedroom closet but every time I pull it out to use it, it ends up living in my master bathroom (right in front of the door) or on the second-floor landing outside all of our bedrooms for literally MONTHS (possibly 8-9 in a row). So I decided that, because we could use a travel steamer anyway, this smaller one could serve double duty: travel and small jobs. In other good news, it fits nicely on the shelf in our under-sized master closet! I can't believe I waited 8+ years to buy one this size. (p.s. I don't know why there are towels in this ad. Please don't be a person who steams your bath towels. If you have that much free time, pick up a good book.) 

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Clog Sandals

To go with my new steamed skirts, I bought some cute clog sandals. I have a difficult time with the traditional mule style, as my arches are too high. I saw this peep-toed pair of Swedish-made Mia "Greta" Mules last weekend when I was out shopping with Staci and fell in love. Unfortunately, the boutique did not have my size --which was probably for the best because I didn't really need another pair of heeled, neutral, peep-toed sandals. But THEN... Ben chewed one of my favorite shoes that very night! I took it as a sign from the universe and set about trying to find the boutique shoe online (at the time, I didn't know what brand they were). It wasn't too hard to find the exact pair --but it was really tricky to locate my size in the color I wanted --sold out everywhere. And then I checked Amazon. Yahoo! While poking around there, I saw THESE Sandgrens in a soft gray "stone" color. #willpower

sandals, shirt, pants, sunnies

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

There is something so intimate and enjoyable about listening to an author read their memoir --unless it's Matthew McConaughey reading Greenlights, which I just could not get into. (But perhaps that's a story I'll save for the day I start cataloguing Things I Hate Monday.) Anyhoo... this wonderful book, Crying in H Mart, was published in April of this year and has received a fair share of attention. Zauner, singer and guitarist of the indie rock band Japanese Breakfast, is a Korean-American who grew up in rural Oregon. She writes of grief, family, food, and identity with unflinching honesty that is somehow both brutal and tender. I loved it!

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This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 10.7.21

Old Friends Making New Memories

It's always the best when you get to spend time with the peeps who've known you since "way back when..." Staci and Greg go back to elementary school and attended the same schools through college. Rusty and Greg go back to junior high (remember who we used to call it that?) and also went to college together. Fun fact: Rusty and Staci have been together for 30 years. I actually met Rusty in a college class a couple years before I met Greg. I have a thousand stories about our friendship and if you searched the archives on this blog, you'd have a chance to read about a lot of them! We were lucky enough to have them out last weekend for the member-guest golf tournament. The weather was perfect, the food was indulgent, the drinks were delicious, and the shopping was successful. I don't think the golfing was nearly as positive, overall --but I heard it was a great time anyway and the betting outcomes made up for some of the (Greg's) shortcomings on the course.

Please be as delighted by our photo-bomber as we were!
I edited this live pic to capture the best moment of his little hop into the frame. :)

Pistola Pants

While shopping, I found a new pair of pants that I (mostly) love so much! These Archer Crossover Joggers from Pistola are a terrific fit. I love the belted waist, the flattering pleating, the length, and gathered ankle. They are so stinking cute... when you're standing (or dancing like Janet Jackson in her Rhythm Nation video). However, because of the "crossover" button-fly, they pucker out in a weird way when you sit down --like, I can slide my left hand into the opening and pull my tucked shirt down (kinda handy --but not completely awesome). So I guess I would say that they are perfect for standing occasions, sitting with your legs under a table, or dancing like "Miss Jackson, if you're nasty" --but I would not recommend them for barstools or lounge chairs --unless your photographer is far away and he captures you at the right angle (above).

Healthy Ben

Ben has finally gotten the all-clear from his vet to be off leash in the yard to enjoy running, jumping, playing, digging, destroying the monkey grass, and generally spazzing out (though, I wish he'd just skip the last three). His friend, Sarah (of the amazing panzanella salad), gave him a new toy that makes a fun noise --so wow... he's in heaven.

Children's Theatre of Charlotte

I've been volunteering at the Children's Theatre of Charlotte for about 8 years. Again, if you searched the archives around here you'd get an eyeful. The Theatre productions would seriously blow your socks off. We've seen tons of shows, ushered performances, attended fundraising galas, and visited the wonderful (attached) library on many occasions. This week, as a volunteer perk, I had the distinct pleasure of a "behind the curtain" look at the process that brings a show from concept to stage. To say it was impressive would be a huge understatement. If ever you have an opportunity to experience this level of children's theatre with a child --I would encourage you to do so. To see them experience the wonder of this art form live, will surely have you falling in love (again) with live theatre. If you're in our near Charlotte and would like to find out more about volunteer opportunities, click here (or get in touch with me).

On the set of My Wonderful Birthday Suit

The Arts in Charlotte

Speaking of fantastic arts in Charlotte, I was able to attend a great luncheon with my mother-in-law this week to hear from a panel representing several of the prominent art and cultural organizations in town. We heard about surviving the early stages of the pandemic and how these teams made creative and interesting pivots to sustain audiences and talent through the past 18 months. Moving forward, many of the organizations are keeping some of these new program features that allow virtual and modified experiences. The decision to continue offering some streaming, outdoor, and socially-distanced ways to engage with their offerings was easy to make --as many patrons have expressed their appreciation for alternative ways to enjoy the content --not to mention the organizations' ability to reach wider audiences through some of these formats and more accessible/interesting venues. 

"Hands on hips, Ladies!"

Coming soon from The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, I'm particularly interested in viewing the Annemarie Schwarzenback: Departure Without Destination exhibit (running April 2 - June 19, 2022). The brief summary of this work that was shared at the luncheon was fascinating. Visit the link to read just a snippet about Annemarie Schwarzenback --a real trail-blazer!

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We just missed Charlotte Ballet's 50th Anniversary Celebration (which closed last weekend); however, Nutcracker opens on December 3rd and tickets are on sale now. In fact, one of Piper's best friends is dancing the role of Clara this year and we couldn't be more excited to watch her shine! 

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We also heard about a ton of offerings from JazzArts Charlotte, a nonprofit organization that celebrates community enrichment through education, live performances, and musician support. In addition to youth education in the form of JazzArts Academy, summer music camps, and in-school programing, they also offer adult workshops online in partnership with UNC Charlotte. Join them in The Jazz Room --a monthly jazz concert series in uptown (with a full bar) or catch a session of The Set from home. This online, live performance happens every 4th Thursday. 

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Blumenthal Performing Arts has an absolutely incredible season lineup with something for everyone! On the theater end of things, Wicked just closed; however I'm looking forward to (the 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour of) RENT!, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Mean Girls. They're also bring Stacey Abrams and Neil deGrasse Tyson to the stage... plus a ton of music and comedy too! And if you're like me and haven't made it out to Camp North End for the immersive Van Gogh exhibit, you still have time! Additionally, I've just learned of some very cool (free and outdoor) things happening in and around our city RIGHT NOW: Intrude: Bunnies at the Park is back and will remain installed at First Ward Field through October 12th. I'm told you should see it (at least) twice; once during the day and once at night. Of Earth and Sky is a large-scale installation of poetry, ideas, and statements (from Charlotte locals) curated and installed across multiple locations through uptown forming a temporary sculpture trail through center city. This exhibit runs through October 31st. WOW... I can't wait to do it ALL! Join me?

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This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)