Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Look for Less: Goodwill Fall Outfit Challenge, the Details

A month ago I got a crazy idea, stemming from my dreams about cool crisp weather and fall clothing. The more I dreamed, the more I realized that my bank account was not going to be able to keep up with those dreams. But that did not discourage me, instead it encouraged me to get creative.

During the brainstorming session I remembered my favorite show while I was a student at UNCC, The Look for Less! After running my idea by a couple of friends, the Goodwill Fall Outfit Challenge was born! Not only do you get an awesome fall outfit for less but you also help out your own community. Shopping for a good cause = win win for all!

The criteria is as follows:
* Find one (or more) fall/winter 2012 runway or magazine looks that you would like to re-create
* Your budget is $25 (or less) per outfit
* 75% of the outfit must be from Goodwill
* Smart phone + Twitter account to share your journey as you participate in the challenge

So how are we going to track this and how long do you have to accomplish this challenge?
1) Tweet me @inthequeencity,email me your inspiration picture (, or send me a link to your Pin of the outfit or look you want to re-create
2) Use the #goodwillchallenge hashtag anytime you tweet (for example, if you find something that's not your size but will look great on somebody else, tweet it and the location!)
3) Email or tweet your final outfit to me so we can compile everyone's finds!

You have from today till next Monday, September 17th to complete the challenge.

Why a week instead of a day?
After speaking to couple of Goodwill experts, one day is not enough! Everyone has their own theories such as "Mondays are the best days" and "you need to have the option to go to several locations because each one is so different."

Also, now that the DNC is over, there should be no issues getting around town and hitting up several Goodwills in the area.

Resources: for runway looks
Pinterest (search for fall 2012 looks)
GoodwillSP locations

Happy shopping and I look forward to seeing what everyone finds!

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Look for Less: Goodwill Fall Outfit Challenge

picture via

Do you remember that show, "The Look for Less" that was on the Style channel many many moons ago? You know, the show where the "contestant" is presented with two looks, $150 and one hour to re-create one of those looks? I LOVED that show. You know why? Because I was a broke college student who had enough time on her hands to care about fashion.

Well, that college student became a still broke but a very busy young career person and hasn't had a moment to breathe to care much about fashion. If it fits, kind of matches, and looks ok then not much time is spent looking well put together in the mornings. Now I understand how people end up on make over shows.

I'm trying not to become one of those people.

Unfortunately, running out to the mall and purchasing a whole new wardrobe for the fall is out of the question. Life threw us some curve balls in the most recent past (both good and bad) so we're running a tight ship at the moment. It's a good skill to have no matter where you are financially.

So, I set myself a goal. This year majority of my fall wardrobe will come from Goodwill, not only because I'll be saving money but also because it's for a great cause. You see, Goodwill of Southern Piedmont does great things in our community and I want to support them. Money from retail sales goes to fund programs that help individuals in the Queen City thrive.

Now you may be wondering why I'm telling you all this. Well, you see, two nights ago I had an epiphany! Why don't we take the concept behind "The Look for Less" and localize it?!

I'm currently coming up with the logistics and would love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, or if you'd like to participate. Shoot me an e-mail ( or comment below!

Here is the criteria that I've come up with so far:

* Find one (or more) fall/winter 2012 runway or magazine looks that you would like to re-create
* Your budget is $25 (or less) per outfit
* One day time limit to re-create the look(s)
* Smart phone + Twitter account to share your journey as you participate in the challenge

The winner of this contest is Goodwill and our community.

Is there anything else that you think we should add to the criteria? Would love to hear your thoughts!!

You can shoot me an e-mail ( or comment below!

The date for the Challenge will be announced soon!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

DIY: Refurbished Antique Mantle

Our bedroom is pretty bare so finding a beautiful piece of furniture that can serve multiple purposes is key. I’ve seen several homes with either fake or existing fireplaces with the mantle painted and used as a place to display fun finds, family photos, etc. I think the obsession to find a mantle really started around Christmas time… when the one real fireplace mantle that we have in the house was not big enough to hold all the tchotchkes.

It’s not too difficult to find a mantle, however, when you have $100 or less to spend it can be very challenging. Buying a new one could set you back a minimum of $500 and it will be bare bones and boring. Anything that resembles a gorgeous antique also starts at $500 and goes up from there.

A friend of mine in Richmond found hers on the side of a swanky residential street in Raleigh and squeezed it in the back of her compact SUV. It’s free standing, large, and gorgeous and I wish I had picture of it to post. I drove around the Meyers Park area recently and had no such luck.

When my sis-in-law was in town a few weeks ago, we went to Sleepy Poet and mantles were on my shopping list. The first hour and a half was discouraging… $550…$790…$975!! Then, in the back of the store, I found one!! It was perfect and came with all the accessories for $90. Score! However, it was too big to fit in my car so I had to reach out to my husband for his muscles and his truck. We went back on Sunday of the same week to pick it up. In the back of my head I was worried that someone has scooped it up during the week. Luckily, it was still there and the owner of the booth was there too, ready to wheel and deal. He knocked the price down to $75 so after taxes it was a few cents over $80, which made me super happy. We loaded it up and brought it home.

mantle coming home

My wonderful husband wasted no time in tearing it apart so that it can be sanded, painted and turned into something even more beautiful. After a relaxing Fourth of July picnic at our officiating minister’s home and a round of disc golf, we got to work on the mantle. Luckily, Lowe’s was open and I picked up pre-mixed seasonal paint samples along with other necessary supplies (paint brushes, wood putty, nails, etc.). We squeezed every bit of daylight that we could and finally gave up around 10 o’clock at night.

Valspar's Lincoln Cottage Black #4009-2 & Autumn Fog #4007-1B

We continued with the project Friday night into Saturday morning and after several glorious hours working on a project together (something we haven’t really done since we planned our wedding) the mantle was done! Isn’t it gorgeous?!

the finished mantle!

The total cost of the project was about $100, which is not bad at all!

Now I’m on the lookout for more furniture for us to refurbish and modernize…

Friday, July 6, 2012

change is good: logo

For the past couple of months I have been dreaming up a new look for this blog and I'm finally turning the sketches into reality. It's going to be a slow transition but it gives me time to concentrate on what's important (both on and offline).

The first change comes in the form of a logo. I'm sure you guys have enjoyed starring at my backside for the past two years...

...but here's the new logo. What do you guys think?

Monday, July 2, 2012

#instaGOOD: Monday, June 25th

As I mentioned in my last post, here is the first post in a series titled #instaGOOD.

Monday, June 25th – Day off.

My sister-in-law and I took it easy in the morning, recovering from the amazing Brothers of the Sun concert from the night before. We decided to check out Sleepy Poet Antique Mall, an antique market here in Charlotte that has been a hideaway and a happy place for me for many years. I could get lost in there for hours!

beautiful ring and bracelet,
located in the cases in the first row after you walk in, on the right.

purple bottles,
located not far from the jewelry cases above

The rest of the pictures from our trip were taken with my point-and-shoot and I will share those at a later time.

After three hours and two growling stomachs later, my SIL and I met up with my husband for dinner at Paco’s Taco in SouthPark. This place, no lie, has the best fajitas in town. I would know, I’ve had a lot of fajitas in this town!

Firestarter Margarita & Tres Leches!

And that, my friends, was last Monday.


I’ve been teetering back and forth on whether or not to do a week in review through photographs, or may be just select days. So I’ve decided to give it a shot!

I’ve got to be honest with you, I check instagram more often than any other mobile social media platform. You could say that I’m addicted and when it went down for 14 hours this past weekend, well, I didn’t eat breakfast, my dog behaved, and the world was out of whack. Thank goodness it’s back!

So up next, last Monday through the filters of my instagram account.

For now, I leave you with this instagram meme:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Couch to 5k: The Color Run #C25K

Sometimes I make silly decisions when my blood sugar drops and lunch is still another 30 minutes away. So what did I do this time? Well, I signed up for my first ever 5k. And by first ever I mean there are no 10k or half marathons in my past. I can’t run half a mile in the shape that I’m in now let alone 3.1 miles.

But it’s a 5k unlike any other and I’ve had friends in other cities participate that had a blast. It’s called the Color Run and it is all kinds of fun! More information can be found on their website and to see if they’re coming to a city near you.

picture via the The Color Run website

So what does this mean for me, the big ol’ couch potato that likes to take the elevator one floor up at work and only walks her dog a quarter of a mile every morning? It means it’s time to train! Four and a half months seems like a long time to train but judging by the not so distant past it will fly. Can you believe it’s almost July?! Yeah, me neither.

Last night I started Googling and Pinning anything I could get my hands on that was in anyway related to going from couch potato (me now) to a 5k runner (future me). There are a lot of resources out there and even apps! My goal is to have my plan laid out by the end of this weekend. Shouldn’t be too difficult because I’m planning on spending Saturday wearing as little as possible and sitting in front of the AC vent… the weatherman said something about it being 106 degrees.

Below are some of the resources that I found. Do you have any that you could suggest? Thanks!

- apps: Couch-to-5k (brought to you by and Get Running to name a few. Mashable has a list of 10 Essential iPhone Apps for Runners.
- podcasts & playlists: Running into Shape
- list/note keeping sites: Evernote
- twitter hashtag: #C25K

Very much looking forward to November 17th!

P.S. I celebrated signing up for my first 5k by eating a gorgeous Champagne cupcake from Gigi’s and washing it down with Acqua Panna. Perfection!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wedding in the Queen City: Finding the Right Venue

In honor of Wedding Wednesday and our wedding getting published in Charlotte Wedding Magazine, I will begin to tell the story of how our big day come together and offer advice along the way… I won’t sit around and call myself an expert; however, I do handle large events for my day job so I know a thing or two about planning these things. ;)

photo by JJ Horton Photography

The first two steps (that usually happen simultaneously) are setting the date and finding the perfect location. We became engaged in late October of 2010 (the same day as the first annual Panther Purrsuit) and made the decision to put off any real wedding planning until the new year. Of course, like any excited bride to be, I began the search for the perfect location.

We were on a fairly tight budget so several locations were marked off the list right away, the rest went through a vigorous spreadsheet cost analysis, features and benefits, pros and cons, and most importantly the people that work there. I’ve worked in the hospitality sector as well as sales and customer service so little red flags popped up about several locations. The quickness of response to emails, the tone of the communication, etc. are very important to me. For example, we had scheduled a site visit with a venue that shall remain unnamed… We drove the 45 minutes down to Fort Mill to be greeted with a locked gate. We called all the numbers listed on the gate as well as the numbers provided in the email and no one answered the phone. What followed were several nastygrams stating that we were at fault, not the venue. Another venue’s initial response was snappy and laced with arrogance. They were both crossed off the list fairly quickly. Several others took forever to respond, if at all.

By January we were down to three locations: The Depot, CenterStage @ NoDa, and Big Chill. We’ve had great experiences with all of them (and highly recommend them to all) but CenterStage took the cake. Their willingness to go the extra mile before we were even clients was amazing! And once we became clients they were even more amazing!

If you’re a bride on a budget I highly recommend creating a spreadsheet for each venue that you’re considering. Just because the base rental price is low (let’s say, oh, $500 for four hours) you may end up spending a whole lot more on chair rentals and time extensions than if you rented a space and spend $3000-6000 as a base (which looks like a large number) but end up saving money when it’s all said and done. Look at what each venue offers in the base, look at all the rentals that you’ll need, etc. It all adds up!

So why did we chose CenterStage? The biggest reason was the staff. They’re amazing. That is all you need to know. The other reasons? We could bring in our own alcohol (you need to get a license from the state to do so and our caterer allowed it) so we saved a ton of money on one of the most expensive parts of any wedding, we had a clean slate to do anything we wanted to to decorate the space, they are an event space so they’re set up to do weddings and dealing with nervous brides (& grooms!), and did I mention that they’re amazing? We were also able to divide the large space into three parts using their drapes that made the space feel more intimate, as well as stage the different parts of the wedding (the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner/dancing). The final set up was more than I ever imagined that space could be.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Motivation Monday: I Don't Know the Way

via revelment

All roads have been leading to change and it must first come from within.
There's a right turn waiting for me but I must first find it.

I will get there, soon.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wedding in the Queen City: Published!

I’ve got some exciting news… are you ready for it?

Our wedding was published in the Fall/Winter 2012 issue of Charlotte Wedding Magazine!

I have to admit, we’re pretty giddy about it. We found out this spring that the mag wanted to publish the amazing work of our awesome photographer Jessica and in May Sarah interviewed me for the article. We only told our closest friends because part of us couldn’t believe that it was real.

On June 6th (which happens to be my birthday) Aleigh, the editor of the mag, posted a picture of the magazine on instagram. Best birthday present ever! However, the magazine was not yet on stands so we had to be patient and wait just a little longer.

Then yesterday came. I was selected to be part of a focus group for a local restaurant and when I walked in and introduced myself the host said that she saw someone with the same name in the Charlotte Wedding magazine. That someone was me and that wedding was our wedding! Knowing that our issue has hit stands made it difficult to focus during the focus group so as soon as it was over I ran straight to Barnes & Noble in South Park to pick up a few copies.

My favorite quote of the night came from the lady checking me out, “Page 42 took all the copies of the Charlotte Wedding Magazine!” I didn’t! I grabbed most copies, leaving a few for other fellow brides that are featured (Andi of My Beautiful Adventures is in the issue too).

You can see our article on the magazine’s website, purchase it online or find a copy at a local retailer in Charlotte.

A lot went into planning our wedding last year and I hope to share it with you all. It was a fun project coming together into one unforgettable day.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Best Friends

photoshoot on the roof with Miss E in NYC earlier this month

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mac & Cheese Cupcakes

The other day my husband complained that I 1) haven't blogged in forever and 2) need to blog and blog more often. And he has a valid point. I'm happy when I blog, take pictures, and share my thoughts with the world wide... world. However, I (and we) have been traveling quite a bit so whatever free time we have is spent catching up on our home life, or family, and our friends. Blogging is almost last on the priority list, which is unfortunate. This is why I now have three tumblr accounts, one of which is updated almost daily.

Thankfully, I had a little bit of time tonight so I wanted to share with you something amazing... a recipe for mac & cheese cupcakes! Yes, you heard me, mac & cheese cupcakes! They were a hit our friends' cookout this past weekend.

The following ingredients will make two dozen cupcakes:

  • 14-16 oz of elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups of shredded cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 5 slices of bacon
  • 24 cupcake liners
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • I also added cayenne pepper because I like my food to have a little bite. :)

    1) Cook pasta according to the instructions on the box
    2) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
    3) Bake bacon until crispy, let it cool and then crumble into small pieces
    4) Line your cupcake pans with paper lines (you'll have a huge mess on your hands if you don't!)
    5) Beat eggs and combine with milk, mix in spices (salt, pepper, etc.), set aside
    6) Drain pasta and put it back in the pot, add the cheese and stir until it melts
    7) Add the egg and milk mixture and the bacon
    8) Portion the mixture into the cupcake pan
    9) Bake for 20 minutes
    10) Enjoy!

    The recipe was inspired by Framed Cooks that I found via Punchfork.

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    Motivation Monday: Good Things

    via Pinterest

    good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Inspiration for Monday

    via Take Me for a Twirl

    A good reminder on a Monday to strive to be better than I was yesterday.

    Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Project365: are you in?

    Day 15

    There once was a time where I blogged everyday... it was early 2000s and LiveJournal was "da bomb." Or some such.

    Since then, my dedication wavered and I wanted to get back into logging my daily life. I've seen many bloggers and twitter and instagram friends participate in some version of Project365. The goal is to take a picture everyday and then to look back once you're done and see what you have accomplished that year (or how you've grown or changed, etc). There are many versions. I freestyle, no daily or monthly themes, just whatever moment I happen to capture that day. Some follow daily theme lists. It's really up to the individual participating.

    I wish I did this last year. It was amazing and scary all at the same time... and an absolute blur! Going into surgery for the third time last year, I made a promise to myself: take a picture every day and blog it. I haven't failed yet. Although, I am a little behind in blogging the photos. :)

    You can check them out on my tumblr account:

    Do you participate in the 365 challenge? If so, please post your links! Would love to check them out. How do you do it? Following a theme or free style? What platform do you use to share your photos?

    Monday, February 6, 2012


    I’ve been pretty absent from this blog, or any other for that matter. Life happens, both good and bad. To quote a friend, “in the grand scheme of things, no matter how crappy, life is pretty impressive.” And there’s so much truth to it. Last year was amazing, I married my best friend and the process took over my life temporarily. But I also had three surgeries, one minor and two pretty major ones that slowed me down to a complete stop. I’m still healing from the one in December but the doctors think this one was the last in the series. Now we’re trying to figure out how to pay for all these surgeries, along with other financial demons.

    I’ve also been faced with learning the same lesson I’m forced to learn every year, that there are people out there that are two faced and I shouldn’t trust everyone that comes along. But my Pollyanna self believes the best in people and sometimes ignores the worst. One day.

    On the brighter side, I met some amazing people that I am proud to call my friends. I got to travel some, both for business and pleasure. My father was able to walk me down the aisle and I finally have a picture of both my parents and myself for the first time in my life. I’ve recently got a promotion at work and am more than excited about the new challenges ahead. And most recently, I spoke in front of a crowd of about 100 people without puking (a win in my book).

    I’m so so so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life, for all the things that happened to me (both good and bad), and most importantly for my amazing family.

    Thanks for reading. Not sure what direction I’m going to take this blog in next. There are no more excuses in not updating.