Friday 5: 2 Part Edition

Because I ended up having to be up at 6:30 and off to work some Weight Watchers meetings last Friday morning, I completely forgot to do a Friday 5 post, so this week is the special Friday 10 edition to make up for it.

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Wedding Rings

Erik picked out a wedding ring! After repeatedly telling him he doesn’t have an option when it comes to wearing one (business man who wants to be traveling every week?  Come on..I’m no dummy..) We went back to a high end jeweler we visited once before and after a lot of back and forth, trying different rings on, he narrowed it down to two.  It took me taking one away and saying “what if I told you this was your ring?” to discover that the one I hid was really the one he wanted.  The smile on his face gave away that he was actually excited by the idea of having a ring, and as the bride-to-be, it’s nice to see the occasional bit of excitement show through, even when he’s not putting forth the effort to show it.  It’s those moments that mean the most.

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Rekindling a LUSH-ious Love

My face has been terribly unkind to me lately, so being on my last nerve I decided to make the 30 minute drive to a different mall that contained one of my favorite beauty stores, LUSH, to get my skin some TLC.  I haven’t gone in quite some time because it is a tad pricy, but after making two trips (in one week…I get bored on my days off sometimes) I quickly remembered that it was worth the money, and have found myself falling back in love with a brand that I had ignored for almost a year.  The fresh face masks work wonders on the skin, and my Fresh Pharmacy face soap is trying to rescue my face from disaster.  I picked up a good haul from there, but I will be writing about the products later.  I’m just glad that I rediscovered this cult favorite.  Thank goodness my birthday is coming..

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The Perks of Being A Wallflower

I am a Bath and Body Works addict, and have been since age 11 or so.  I have a strong loyalty to this brand, always have, always will.  That being said, I really disliked their wall flowers for the longest time.  I just felt like they didn’t work. Well, something this time around inspired me to get a fall themed one (Halloween wasn’t out yet) and a few scents I knew I loved just to add a little something to my bedroom.  10 minutes after plugging this baby in my room smelled like their Leaves fragrance like you wouldn’t believe (or maybe you would, if you’re smart unlike me and have been using the wall flowers).  I don’t know why I haven’t been using these, but I promise you this: I will become a collector of seasonal wall flowers to use year round.  These are WONDERFUL.  I’m sorry that I ever doubted you, Bath and Body Works.  It won’t happen again.

Two Week’s Notice

I gave my two week’s notice to Kohls on Tuesday!  It has gotten to the point that going to work for them 4 or 8 hours a week has turned into one of the less productive things i could be doing with my time.  With my studio and Weight Watchers picking up I have really lost the ability to take time to enjoy things like working out, cooking healthy things and blogging.  They have all turned into a chore because of this lack of time, and when the things you do for fun start to not be fun, something has to go.  I’m willing to take the rather tiny hit to my bank account (which won’t be a hit at all if work picks up like it has been) to increase the quality of my day.  Happiness is more important. Bye Bye retail, God willing, forever!

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Saturday at a Dairy Farm

Last Saturday the MBA program had a nice evening planned for the students and their families at a dairy farm about 25 minutes away.  We got to go on a hayride around the farm, where the tour guide stopped along the way and told us about how things work.  They have about 350 cows on the farm, each of which eats 100lbs of food a day!  Craziness.  We even got to see a cow who was expected to have her baby by morning and all of the little newborns.  Major cow cuteness.  Pictured above is a ring of pregnant cows.  The mamas must feel the need to support each other.

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Real Southern Pig Picking BBQ

Guess what else was at this farm??  A real Southern style BBQ, complete with the whole pig on the grill.  I must admit, this is some of the most delicious meat I have ever eaten.  Down South I guess the thing is a vinegar based sauce that gets injected right in.  This meant was tender, juicy, and unlike any BBQ I’ve ever had before. Take a look at that plate: The pig picked pulled pork, mac n cheese, a sweet potato casserole that was decadently delicious, green bean and 3 bean salads and southern potato salad.  Needless to say, I was NOT counting PointsPlus that night.  SO good!

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0 Calorie Cake?!

Product find: Limited edition Chapstick in Velvet Cake and Cake batter flavors.  Surprisingly I like the cake batter one better than the velvet one (shocker, I know!), but they both taste yummy.  I got mine for under $1 at Wal-Mart.  Look for them in the check out line. I will be going to get more.

Mod 1 Finals!

Yesterday Erik finished up his last final of his first module of business school!  Translation: total chaos is part way over.  I refuse to believe it gets better until next year, but many have said once he makes it past interviews for his internship in January he will have more time and more of a life (to spend with his new wife, maybe??).  Finals here are odd, as they all take place in the evening.  All week he has gotten up to go to a review session, most of which he left early, and then came back home only to go take his exam from 6:30-9:30pm!  By the end of the day I would not be motivated to take exams at all.  I give props to you UNC MBA students.  Congrats on getting through Mod 1.  Added bonus: Erik has a day completely off today, which means we get to spend the whole day together shopping, cleaning, making dinner together, and watching a movie.  I think I’m going to make him sit through Hunger Games 😉

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Trader Joe’s Find: BODY Butter??

Yup, you read that right.  There’s this little section in Trader Joe’s that had bath and body products.  I read they had pumpkin body butter and had to check it out.  Turns out this stuff is pretty awesome.  Made with shea butter, coconut oil and pumpkin seed oil, this a nice moisturizing  butter, and the scent is very subtle.  It’s a barely there pumpkin smell so I still get the gratification of wearing a pumpkin flavored product while not having to worry about carrying around an overwhelming scent of food.  The best part: it’s only $4.99 for a big container.  Way to go, Trader Joe’s!

Epic Turtle Jump

Make the most of your small accomplishments.

Happy Friday!

The Next Chapter Pt 3: Life in Chapel Hill

I feel like the whole moving story deserved at least one more post that lets me tell you a bit about the area I now call home.

The weekend that Erik’s parents were with us (my parents stayed until Tuesday), his Dad took it upon himself to show us some of the sites.  That started Saturday morning with a trip to Franklin Street.  Franklin street is the main drag for Chapel Hill.  It’s covered in cute shops, bars all over, and it’s a foodie’s dream.  There’s everything there.  You can find chains like Chipotle and Noodles and Company, as well as delicious sweet treats including several frozen yogurt shops (Sweet Frog seems to be the main chain around here) and Krispie Kreme Doughnuts (they took ours back home away), and little shops and bars all over this street.  There is this bakery/ice cream parlor that Erik and I walked by one night when we were out for a stroll that has cupcakes (my favorite!) and gelato, but what’s unique about this place is they make adult gelato treats.  You can get vodka and other liquor based gelato creations served in a martini glass right along with your cupcake.  We haven’t gone there yet, but you better believe we will!

Anyway, Saturday morning:  We were taken to Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe on Franklin Street.  It’s this narrow little place (much like most of the shops along Franklin) with the best breakfast food ever.  We walked in and god smacked in the face with the scent of syrup, bacon, and sweet, sweet pancake and waffle batter.  I was in Heaven and we weren’t even seated yet.  We managed to get countertop seating, which was awesome because we got to sit and watch the pro breakfast cooks work their magic.  I had a cinnamon apple waffle with bacon and Egg Beaters and sugar free syrup (while enjoying a food I still I have to feel like I made at least one Weight Watchers conscious decision..) and it was lovely.  I feel compelled to go back and try their signature M&M pancakes.  Just the sound of those words makes my taste buds giddy.  After an amazing breakfast with super friendly service we were ready to face our day of unpacking.

(My parents, Erik, and I enjoying breakfast at Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe.  His parents are behind the camera)

As we were walking up Franklin St I noticed that everyone, and I mean everyone had something Tar Heels related on (UNC mascot).  I have never lived in a University town before, so I never realized how much of a “thing” showing your university’s colors was.  I knew that Erik and I had to hop on the Tar Heels bandwagon when I saw this little old man walking down the street in a Tar Heels baseball cap.  I expressed my desire to get “in” with the Chapel Hill way of life, and Erik’s mom wasted no time leading us a few stores down to “The Shrunken Head” which is one of the best known shops for all things Tar Heel (although I later learn that Kohls, Walmart, Target and basically anywhere I go will have Tar Heels gear for purchase).  After some browsing and trying things on I managed to walk out of there with a cute long sleeved shirt (thanks to the clearance rack), some super soft sweatpants and a windbreaker jacket with hood, thanks to my parents, and an amazingly cute hoodie thanks to Erik’s parents.  As we were talking to the store owners (it’s been a family owned business for years) they learned of our move and our engagement so as a little housewarming gift they threw in these big plastic cups, one in Tar Heels blue and a pink one for me.  I was now satisfied with owning some Tar Heels gear.  I was officially a Chapel Hill resident, and now I could look the part 🙂

(In the Shrunken Head, me sporting my new sweatshirt, and Erik being a real man and not being afraid to hold my purse;-)  )

Saturday night the group of us (Erik and I plus all parents) went out to an epic dinner at the Carolina Inn.  Built in 1924 by a UNC alum, this place is actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  When you walk in you can just stand in awe at it’s elegance.  It’s very classy with an eclectic collection of furniture making the visual experience truly unique.  There are long halls and many rooms, and that’s just on the main floor.  Never mind the fact that somewhere there are actual hotel rooms that probably cost several hundred dollars a night to stay in.   We walked into the dining room which was very quiet and had brightly colored upholstery on the chairs. The menu reminded me of something you would see on a cruise ship; there weren’t a whole lot of choices, but each choice was unique and decadent.  We started with some bread (as always) and they brought us a cold beet soup in a little cylindrical glass, meant to be sipped.  It was an interesting flavor which I happily tried a few sips of before my tummy decided it wasn’t for me.  That’s fine, onto the main course: steak.  We are talking enough steak for 3 meals for me sitting on top of delicious mashed potatoes.  I ate the top piece, and ended up taking the bigger piece home along with the leftovers from a parent who had the same thing.  Then we looked at the dessert menu… Oh. my. goodness!   We each ordered something different: peanut butter/pretzel/chocolate mousse pie, berry cobbler, pecan bread pudding, chai creme brûlée, and for me: red velvet mousse cake.  We all played pass the plate, as we wanted to get our hands on all of dessert awesomeness spread out in front of us.  The meal was amazing, we were all in good company, Saturday was a success.

(My steak and red velvet dessert)

Erik’s parents left on Sunday.  The adventure of unpacking continued with target runs and working through things box by box.  I met up with my parents one morning at a local cafe called Cafe Carolina.  They have great french toast, yummy sandwiches (Erik and I learned that later) and yummy baked goods, including Tar Heel colored cupcakes.  I would expect nothing less from a Chapel Hill eatery 🙂

(The Cafe Carolina Cupcakes)

My last adventure with my mom was to David’s Bridal, seeing how on top of everything I have a wedding to plan.  We figured we should at least start looking for a dress, as I had no idea what I wanted.  Looking at them all hanging there was totally overwhelming, so I decided maybe I should just try some on for fun.  5 dresses and one awesome consultant later, I actually bought my wedding dress.  Say What?!?!?  Yup!  Done and done!  Obviously no pictures or details will be posted until Erik has seen me.  It was an awesome impromptu adventure.

Since our parents left Erik and I have discovered other places as well.  The first MBA event took place at a bar called “Top of the Hill” where the main area is actually 3 floors up at the top of the building and you can look out over Franklin street.  It’s another local landmark.   I also was taken over to the business school one day for a BBQ and Erik gave me the grand tour of the place he will be spending so much of his time.  I found several local Weight Watchers stores and all of the stores I’m used to having access to back in Illinois.  There is even a really decent mall only 15 minutes away, compete with a Sephora and with an Ulta across the street. Win! Erik and I have spent Saturdays registering for our wedding at Bed Bath and Beyond and Macys, so we got to explore the mall together.  We really know how to spend an entire day out shopping..  I also have a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods right by the music school I am teaching at, which is great, except I don’t have the money to shop there.  Still, it’s nice to know they’re around as well.

It has been and continues to be quite an adventure discovering places around my new home.  I know there have been more places we’ve explored over the last month or so, but I don’t need this post to go on forever.  Chapel Hill is a nice place full of kind people.  I keep hearing I am going to love the winters since I’m from Chicagoland, so I am actually looking forward (at least a little bit) to winter this year.

There’s still a lot to work on and a lot of things to accomplish and the craziness of the fall season has yet to start for either of us, but getting the chance to settle in over the summer was a great choice.  Life is good 🙂

Chapel Hill 101

I’m currently sitting in Cafe Carolina a mere 2 minute drive from my apartment to use their internet, as I don’t get internet at my place until tomorrow.  Around me are southern accents of a group of women discussing life issues or something (I overheard a few seconds of “it really changed me” as I tried to find a table with an outlet) and a family with small children talking about sweet tea.

As I want to take more time and be in the comfort of my own home before writing out my moving saga, I figured I’d start you all off with a few things I’ve learned about my new home.

-I have noticed a few things already.  I was warned about this by Dan from my church.  People are a lot slower here.  I notice this in terms of communication. Back in Des Plaines I send emails to my employers and if I don’t get a response within a few hours they are either on vacation or their devices are broken.  Here everyone takes their sweet southern time to get back to you.  I really wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t for the fact I’m trying to get my jobs rolling.  I sort of need to get an income flowing to my bank account..

-The second thing I’ve noticed is NC drivers are insane.  no regard for those around them, flying around corners at any speed they please, etc.  Perhaps I only notice this because I’m a born and raised Chicagoland driver, but really people…slow down and pay attention.  My father commented on how he’s never seen so many random fender benders pulled over on the side of the road.  I’m not surprised..

-After spending time waking around town (and having breakfast at an amazing waffle place) with Erik, my parents, and the future in-laws (the meeting of the parents went great, by the way, and I am very thankful for that) I also learned of the almost cultish feel of an actual University town.  Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, walks around in Tar Heels blue up and down Franklin St.  I noted that being gear-less was a problem when this little old man walking down the street was even wearing a Tar Heels baseball cap.  Something had to be done(it required shopping, so of course something had to be done).  Becky (Erik’s mom) took us to the most popular Tar Heels gear store in town, the Shrunken Head,  where Erik and I both solved the issue of not fitting in with the crowd.  Thanks to his parents for buying me an adorable Tar Heels hoodie and to my mom for the comfy sweatpants and windbreaker jacket emblazoned with the UNC logo. Throwing in the cute shirt I bought for myself I can now rest peacefully knowing I can fit in to the big university way of life, wearing Tar Heels blue proudly as Erik and I live in Chapel Hill for the next two years.

-Bugs… lots of bugs.  Erik has killed several for me already, although my dad had the honor of taking out our first spider.  The scenery with all of the trees in our complex is amazing, but with all of the trees comes bugs.  *sigh*

-You can listen to the frogs at night. 🙂

– My new grocery store (Harris Teeter) has double coupons: EVERY DAY!  I have never experienced the joy of double coupons.  I can’t wait to plan ahead and play “how much can I actually save?”  No, I will NOT become an extreme couponer, but I will put forth my best effort to save when I can.

-Thanks to UNC MBA social event and the MBA partners program (a club exclusively for the spouses/significant others of MBA students) meeting new people and making friends won’t be a problem.  We’ve been out to two socials already, one of which was at the pool located right by my apartment building.  Last night we also ended up with our first house guests: a couple who we were swapping engagement stories with and decided to take the conversation inside before the bugs attacked.  Not bad for only being moved in a few days.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what I can think of off of the top of my head.  As I said, the moving story will come soon, complete with pictures. I’m excited to be on this adventure.  I’m not sure that it has sunk in that Erik and I won’t be separating anymore.  Ill give it another week or two before that hits us, but I will say this: even though it hasn’t hit us yet, I’m getting a huge amount of comfort knowing that fact.  We don’t feel pressured to fit in all of this time together or various activities like we usually do on our visits.  We have all the time in the world.  It is a wonderful thing. 🙂