Painting girl (and boy)

Robert owns and lives in a house in North Carolina. He bought it years ago (before we started dating) and decided to fix-it-up into a cute mountainy home. Once Robert and I started dating, fixing up his house went on the back burner. He was traveling to Atlanta most every weekend and when we weren’t in Atlanta, we were scooting around the southeast together. Since we’ve gotten engaged, Robert has made it a priority to finish the final touches on his abode. I’m all for it. I can’t wait to see the finished product- I know it will be great.

The past two weekends, I’ve traveled up to rainy NC to help Robert paint rooms, closets, doors and trim. I was gung-ho the first weekend. I knocked out a few doors and helped with some trim while Robert painted his bathroom a pretty, light yellow. We were really proud of what we accomplished in a little less than 2 days.

This past weekend, I wasn’t as gung ho. Mid-way through Saturday, as I was painting one of his spare bedroom’s closets, I broke down. I think it was a mix of tiredness, crappy weather and the fact that I was literally standing inside of a closet painting a random shelf that upset me. Robert walked in and asked me to stop painting. We talked for a while and he said, “Not painting for one day isn’t going to make or break this house. Let’s get ready and spend the afternoon together in Asheville. Let’s have fun.” It didn’t take but 3 seconds for me to agree to his proposal. 🙂

We headed into Asheville’s Biltmore Park,  shopped around, grabbed lunch at Hickory Tavern, watched the Kentucky Derby, and drank margaritas (in celebration of Cinco de Mayo) with his sister and brother later that night.

I know that Robert’s house will be finished at some point. He’s dedicated, and he’s a hell of a hard worker.

Life lately.

Last weekend, I went home to Greenville to wedding dress shop with my mom and sister. After three stores and about twenty dresses, we sill didn’t find “the dress.” Even though the final dress decision wasn’t made, we had a great time breaking down the dresses and picking out what we liked/disliked about each one. I tried on dresses of every size, shape and material, so now I have a better understanding of what I want The One to look like. The best part about dress shopping was spending the whole day with my mom and sister laughing and chatting and sharing opinions.

The rest of last weekend was filled with listening to bands online, looking at photographers’ websites and vegging out with my family and Robert.

This week, I went to San Francisco for work and fell in love with the city.

I’m currently in Hendersonville helping Robert insert a sump pump into his basement. By help, I mean I’m sitting in the sun, listening to country music, watching my handy man saw and break up concrete, and blogging.

Here are pics detailing my life lately according to my iPhone:

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Outstanding October & L’s Engagement!

October and November FLEW by and I can’t believe we’ve already into December. October consisted of many activities including a 10K run, a Ben Taylor concert, the YES!Atlanta Night of Lights 2013, a beautiful weekend in Asheville, N.C., a home concert at Robert’s family’s house, golf and dinner at the Grove Park Inn, and Halloween celebrations at work. A few pictures to depict the major parts of my month:

After our Run10Feed10 10K

After our Run10Feed10 10K

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Met John Forte at the Ben Taylor Concert

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My beautiful roommates at the YES!Atlanta Night of Lights

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After dinner at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville

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View during our golf day at the Grove Park Inn

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Ben Taylor!

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Family and Robert before NOL

Dad, Madison, Mom at Night of Lights 2012!

Dad, Madison, Mom at Night of Lights 2012!

One of the most exciting parts of the month was that my roommate, Lauren, and her boyfriend (now fiance), Brandon got engaged! L&B have been together since college at Penn State and both ended up in Atlanta. Nittany Lion Sweethearts. 🙂  Brandon took Lauren to Penn State for a football game and proposed to her in front of the school sign as they drove into the city.  She was completely surprised, and she of course said YES!

Lauren asked me to be a bridesmaid in their wedding a couple of weeks and I’m honored that I’ve been asked to take part in their special day.  I’m so lucky that God placed Lauren, and incidentally Brandon, in my life.  They’re amazing people and I know that their life together is going to be filled with fun, laughs and lots of love.  Since their wedding won’t take place until Spring 2014, our apartment will be filled with wedding magazines, wedding talk and wedding excitement until the big day. 🙂

Brandon proposing to my roommate, Lauren at Penn State!

Mountain Weekend in Asheville

A few weeks ago, my roommates, sister, Brandon, Parks and Sam joined Robert and me for a mountain weekend in North Carolina.  It was a great way to kick-start the Fall season and spend a little bit of time OTP (outside the perimeter).

On Friday, Robert grilled out ribs and Merr and Sam made shish kabobs for the group at Robert’s house in Hendersonville. It was such a crisp, cool night and my pyro-man, Robert, built a big bonfire for us. I love seeing him drag limbs/wood to feed the fire- he always seems totally in his element. We blared music, danced and screamed lyrics to 90’s songs all night while dressed in sweatshirts, jeans and boots. (I love Fall.)  Good thing Robert doesn’t have close neighbors because the singing (screaming) voices of Margo, Merr, Lauren and myself would probably drive them nutso.

Bonfire + Dancing

We woke up at a fairly decent hour on Saturday and everyone quickly (and surprisingly) got ready to head into Asheville for the day/night.  I rocked my side braid, new little brown booties, side purse and hippie printed skirt to walk around the city. I fit right in. We stopped at Biltmore Park to grab lunch (and blue moons, obvi) at Hickory Tavern and then continued into the downtown area.

While the guys shot pool and watched football at an Asheville bar, Merr and I took Lauren and Margo to the cute boutique dress shops around town.  There is a major difference between boutiques in A-ville and boutiques in the ATL. While most boutiques in ATL show dresses appropriate for cocktail parties and college football gamedays, most Asheville boutiques show dresses appropriate for attending outdoor concerts and festivals.

Girls in Asheville!

Mountain Man and Madison

We met up with the guys and then all headed to the hotel to check in and get ready for the night. By 8:30, we were ready to go again. We headed to a Cuban restaurant for a little fiesta and then to Scully’s for drinks. After we chilled on the back porch for a while, everyone got the itch to dance, so we headed to Mags for the live band and watched a bachelorette dance a pretty planned out routine to “Billy Jean”.  One of my favorite things to do when we go out is dance with Robert. He constantly twirls me, we make up random moves and rarely leave the dance floor. 🙂

On Sunday morning, we all woke up, packed up our stuff and headed to Cracker Barrel. After breakfast, I’m pretty sure two thoughts were running through everyone’s  heads: “Why don’t we go to Cracker Barrel more often?” and “I’m tired.” I’m so thankful that Branny drove the ATL girls back to the big city.  But I’m even more thankful that Branny and Lauren kept the “Jackson 5” Pandora station on a low volume so that the two princesses could sleep in the backseat.

Do you think you could live there?

Every time that I travel to a new city for a work event (NYC, San Diego,Tampa, Orlando, Las Vegas and now Nashville), my mom inevitably asks the question, “Well, do you think you could live there?”  Most of the time, I explain that in my book, the area doesn’t compare to the things that I love about Atlanta.  However, the one place that I would literally pick up and move to tomorrow (if Robert and my family would move along with me)  is San Diego. It’s clean, fun and the weather always seems to be gorgeous.

I say that to explain that my trip to Nashville is the first time that I truly do not have an opinion on possible future residency one way or the other.  All of my friends who have visited Nashville absolutely love this place.  Because I’ve been attending a work event, I’ve spent almost my entire trip at the Gaylord Opryland.  On my next trip here (hopefully soon!) I hope to explore the whole city a bit more, listen to the wannabe country stars on the sidewalks and buy some new cowboy boots. 🙂

When I arrived at the Gaylord Opryland, I found out that my room was upgraded to a balcony room.

We took a boat ride on the General Jackson on Tuesday night and experienced an awards banquet, a country music show and the Nashville skyline at night.

Nashville Skyline

This weekend, I’m heading to Asheville for a mountain weekend with Robert, my sister, Sam, Brittney, Derrick, Margo, Lauren, Brandon and Parks.  I see a bonfire, a cookout, warm clothes, micro-brews, shopping, football watching, dancing, singing and laughter in our futures for this weekend. Just call me Ms. Cleo.

Amazing August

Summer seriously flew right by me. I feel like the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day was gone before I even had the chance to get a solid summer tan.  My roommates and I talk about the issue of time flying by all the time, but our overall feeling is that we have so many things going on that it’s hard to not focus on “what’s next.” This summer, and especially August, I tried to slow it down and focus on the present as opposed to looking towards the next week or weekend. Below is a quick recap of my August.

Asheville: During the second weekend of August, I visited Hendersonville and coincidentally, my sister was on her med-school summer break, so she and Sam joined.  On Friday night, we ventured into downtown Hendersonville to play pool and somehow wound up in the middle of an after-party of a rehearsal dinner.  This was a new experience for me because the soon-to-be newlyweds were two men. We mingled with the guests, well-wished the grooms and headed back home.

Merr and me in Hendo.

Instead of sticking around Hendo on Saturday, Robert and I decided to spend the day/night in Asheville. We headed up in the Jeep and checked-in to the Crown Plaza (za za za za) before exploring Asheville in the daylight.  We went into all of the cute shops, listened to the street singers and admired the street performers.  Merrick and Sam met us for lunch/drinks at LAB and then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.  After a drink at the downstairs bar, Robert and I got all dressed up and headed back to downtown Asheville for a nice Italian dinner.  I love our quiet dinners because it gives us both a chance to relax and talk about random things.  After dinner, we went to a few bars and walked around the lit city. It was a beautiful night and I don’t think that we could have asked for better one-on-one time. 🙂

Date night in Asheville!

Big 10 Pub Crawl- My roommate, Lauren, went to Penn State.  When she moved to Atlanta, she became part of the Big Ten Alumni Association and recruited us to celebrate the Fall football season kick-off with a The Big Ten Pub Crawl in Buckhead.  Now, it’s become a tradition for us. The Big Ten Pub Crawl always benefits a charity and is filled with football spirit, excited fans and wonderful beer/food specials.

This year, Lauren chose to co-chair the Big Ten Pub Crawl and started working on it in February.  When she was searching for a charity to serve as the recipient of the funds raised at the pub crawl, Lauren asked me if YES!Atlanta would be interested.  I immediately said YES! 🙂 I serve on as the public relations chair on YES!Atlanta’s board.  YES!Atlanta is a non-profit organization that seeks to enhance the lives of at-risk teenagers through mentorships.  One of its main goals is to lower the drop-out rate of inner-city high school teens.

So, this year’s Big Ten Pub Crawl benefitted YES!Atlanta.  It was held in midtown and raised more than $17,000. Lauren did a great job and I’m so proud of the amount of money that she and her co-chair were able to raise!

Group of girlfriends at the Big Ten Pub Crawl

YES!Atlanta + Big Ten

Company offsite– On Friday, Aug. 24, my company held our off-site retreat at Dad’s Garage where we attended “Spy School.”  At the offsite, I was able to get to know my colleagues better and use my creativity.  Afterwards, we went to Barcelona Wine Bar for drinks and appies and I got the chance to talk to my colleagues in a different, more relaxed type of setting.  Robbie and I will definitely be going back to BWB in the Fall to sit by the outdoor fire and drink wine. Oh la laaaaa.  The offsite was such a nice and fun way to spend my Friday.

What’s been going on?

In the past few weeks, my journey as an almost 24-year-old has taken me to NYC, Hendersonville, Asheville, Atlanta,  Hiawassee, San Diego and finally back to Atlanta.

I went to NYC the weekend before Father’s Day for work and had some time to walk around the city after work. I saw some cool sites, did a little bit of shopping and came to the realization that I’m not sure that I could live in the Big Apple. I like to have my car, an affordable living space and my family close by. That’s not saying that I’ll never live there. Who knows? 🙂  On my flight back, I traded my seat with a man so that he could sit with his family, and, in turn, he gave me his business class ticket. I was treated like a queen, feed shrimp and chicken, sat in a reclined chair that massaged my back and had a great conversation with my seatmate.  I felt like a pampered brat, and I loved every second of it.  I really need to work on my Delta Medallion status so that I can fly business class for all of my trips.

Times Square in NYC

For Father’s Day, my parents spent the weekend in a condo on a beautiful golf course in Hendersonville. It was perfect because I was able to travel to one place to see my family and Robert at the same time.  We met for drinks on Friday in Hendersonville, I played golf with Robert on Saturday and we met my family for dinner and drinks on Saturday night in Asheville. It was such a nice weekend in the mountains and I hated leaving my family and Robert.

Two weekends ago, Robert invited me up to the lake that his family frequents throughout the summer, Lake Chatuge.  It’s a gorgeous lake surrounded by North Georgia/North Carolina mountains in Hiawassee, Georgia.  I took a flex day on Friday and met Robert at the lake since it was a ½ way meeting point for us both.  Robbie pulled up in his new sleek new Jeep and I immediately asked if I could have his car… then I remembered that it’s a manual. At some point, I’ll learn how to drive a stick shift and feel comfortable enough to drive it down Peachtree. 🙂

On Lake Chatuge

We went to the marina on Friday night and ate/drank at the Tiki bar (not to be confused with the Lake Keowee Tiki Hut), listened to a country music from an “up-and-coming star” and met a couple of the locals. One local brought his dog, Kona, to the bar and showed Robert and me all of the dog’s tricks.  Kona was our friend for the whole night and the rest of the weekend. I accidentally fed him a whole chicken wing when his owner wasn’t looking, but I think he was alright. Whoops.  On Saturday, we took the boat out, Robert showed me around the lake, and we lounged in the cool, mountain water under the blazing sun. We got ready and took the boat back to the Tiki for dinner where we listened to the country music star and played with Kona again.  On Sunday, Robert took me for a boat ride and then I packed up my stuff and headed back to ATL to catch a flight to San Diego.

Robert and Kona

My flight to San Diego was easy-breezy, and I arrived at my hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter around 7 p.m. PST. Since it was beautiful out, I decided to go for a run along the bay. It was one of the most peaceful, relaxing runs that I think I’ve ever experienced.  The weather was a cool 75 degrees and it didn’t take me long to get in the zone. I was in meetings all day Monday and went to dinner on Monday night with my co-workers. We grabbed sushi, and I stepped out of my box and tried a few new dishes…which I loved! I fell in love with everything about San Diego (weather, shopping, dining, people,etc.) in my short 36-hour trip.  I hope that I’ll get to visit again soon.

View from my run in San Diego

Last weekend was a total ATL weekend. A bunch of us met up at my friend Maggie’s gorgeous 14th story apartment in midtown and then headed to Ri Ra.  I’d never been to Ri Ra, and it was so much fun! On Saturday, Robert and I went to the pool with our friends Danielle and Jessica and then went on a date night in Decatur. We weren’t too thrilled with Decatur.  It’s not that it was bad, but I was comparing it to Virginia Highlands (my obsession) and it just didn’t have the same feel, the same cute shops or the same kind of hipster-esque people.  We ate at a cute, cute, cute restaurant called No. 246 and I felt as though I was Emily Schuman from Cupcakes and Cashmere (partly because I was wearing flowy maxi dress and partly because the restaurant was so quaint and simple).  We loved our waiter and went home with smiles on our faces.

For the Fourth of July holiday, we tried our best (kind of) to go to the Braves game, but it started DOWNPOURING 15 minutes into our tailgate sesh. So, instead, we skirted on back to Buckhead and ended up at Pool Hall.  Is this scenario surprising anyone? Yeah, I didn’t think so. At Pool Hall, we danced, pretended to be DJ’s and did the wobble.  On the 4th, I spent the day with Laurs, Branny and Josh. We swam all day, ate Fat Matt’s BBQ for dinner and watched the Lenox fireworks while shouting out the shapes that each explosion made: “STAR!”, “SHAMROCK!”, “SMILEYFACE!”.

Out the night before the 4th

These past few weeks have been a blur with travel and activities, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I was going to apologize for rambling on about my past few weeks in such a long blog post, but I realized… this is my platform, right?

So sorry, I’m not sorry.