12/10/13

Chicago Girls Weekend

Another item to cross off my list of 25 things to do before I turn 25Plan and pay for a trip on my own!

Several months back some of my best college friends decided it was time for our first big girls weekend trip and we decided on Chicago! I had only visited Chicago once before when I was much younger with my family, so I knew this would be a completely different trip filled with shopping and fun-touristy things!


I have to say, Chicago is now one of my favorite cities! There is so much to do and I love getting to walk almost everywhere! There was tons of shopping (obviously), beautiful architecture and works of art to see. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, which was in a great location and I would definitely recommend it, plus we found a great deal on it!


Another recommendation I would have is this awesome app my friends told me about and we used on this trip, it's called "PhotoCircle." It's free and we used it the entire weekend! You can upload pictures to it, similar to other social media apps, but you can invite your friends and share you pictures through it. It makes it a lot easier and faster than texting pictures to your entire group, especially for a weekend full of pictures! Plus you can share all of your pictures with one another without having to post them for everyone to see, just your friends!



Friday

My roommate, Juliann and I both had to work half-days so we met up with the other girls in Chicago Friday night. 



We went to this delicious asian restaurant for dinner called Sunda, I ordered pad thai with chicken (It was a lot of food, I definitely could have split with someone!). Our friend knew the chef and he brought us some delicious appetizers to try, the crispy brussels sprouts and some kind of delicious sushi rolls which were to die for! 


After dinner, we walked across the street to Paris Club, which was a really fun Chicago bar! To make it even more fun we met up with one of our sorority sisters we hadn't seen in several years and loved getting to catch up with her! Lastly, a few of the Chicago Bulls players showed up to this bar too, so we felt pretty famous to be hanging out where the celebs go!




Oh, and we took a limo home, it seemed more efficient than 3 separate taxis! :)


Saturday
Saturday morning we woke up early and grabbed ourselves some Starbucks, it wasn't as chilly as we were expecting but still cold! We grabbed some brunch at a place called Sweetwater Tavern that was pretty good. Then we went to the famous artwork in Millennium Park at The Bean for pictures, which as it turns out it is actually called Cloud Gate. It was such a beautiful, fall day! We got lucky to have such great weather while we were visiting, we ended up just sitting in the park for almost an hour just people watching and taking pictures!





Then we headed to the Magnificent Mile to do some shopping! Some of us got the famous popcorn from Garret's. We thought about doing the riverboat cruise, but they were already closed so we headed back to the hotel to freshen up.

We attempted to walk to the John Hancock building, but walked too many blocks in the wrong direction and so we gave up and called Uber to come get us. If you haven't used Uber before, I highly recommend it! They are growing quickly and are in several major US cities already including Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, LA, NYC and many others! It's nice because they charge you based on distance, not time - so if you know you might be sitting in a lot of traffic (umm Atlanta) you only pay a set fee. They pick you up in a sleek black SUV or town car and you put your credit card information in the app so you don't even need to worry about having cash!

One last app suggestion I have for a trip with friends, is Venmo. It makes it really easy to split tabs like cab fares and dinners when you're traveling (or even when you're home) with friends! For example, Juliann paid for our Uber ride and we could all pay her back through Venmo immediately so she didn't have to worry about asking each of us for a few dollars, because it definitely adds up quickly! My roommate and I also use it monthly to repay each other for bills, it's so easy! And it doesn't charge you any kind of fee unless you use a credit card (3%), but if it's linked to your bank account or debit card, it's totally free!

After waiting in line we finally got to take the elevator up to the Signature Lounge at the top of the John Hancock building, on the 96th floor to get a drink together. Of course the drinks are pricy, but it is totally worth that incredible view!! There is also a restaurant and observatory you can go to, but the observatory is $18 so we opted to get a glass of wine for $12 instead and get the view!




Then we split up, two of the girls went to see Wicked while the rest of us went to a delicious Italian restaurant Volare for dinner. I ordered the most amazing pasta, the Spaghetti Neri al Pesce, which was black spaghetti tossed with shrimp, lump crab, scallops and sage. If you love seafood, I highly recommend it! All of their pastas (and maybe all of their entrees) come in half portions. My half portion was still huge!

We were so exhausted after a long day of walking around and sightseeing we called it an early night to rest up for our final day of adventure!


Sunday

We tried this place for breakfast the morning before but it was too packed, so Sunday we woke up earlier and walked to the Wildberry Cafe, which was incredible! We waited an hour but I think it was definitely worth the wait! I could have split this too, but I ordered their signature Wildberry Pancakes, if you love sweet things you'd LOVE these like I did! 



After that, we did the Wendella Chicago River Architecture Tour which was so fascinating! It was freezing for us southern ladies! I would highly recommend anyone visiting Chicago to do one of the river tours!




We finished up our trip with some necessary deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. We quickly ran back to the hotel to get our bags and headed to the airport. 



The trip went fast, but I felt like we got to do everything we all wanted to! We all hugged goodbye at the airport and went our separate ways Juliann and I went back to Atlanta and the others jumped our their planes back to Birmingham. Glad we had Homecoming to look forward to the next weekend, so it wouldn't be too long before we would be reunited again!


Any suggestions for our next girls weekend trip next year??
A

12/9/13

New phone & Kate Spade iPhone case

My parents were so sweet to get me a new phone today, Merry early Christmas present! I have had the iPhone 4S for over 2 years and have had so many problems just because I was always running out of space (so I like to take a lot of pictures, okay?!). And with Houston and I getting married in just a few months (110 days eeeek!) I know I'll be wanting to take many more pictures in 2014, so it is so so sweet of my parents to get me a new phone!

Obviously getting a new phone, I'm terrified of the day that I'll drop it so I definitely wanted to buy a nice case for it to keep it safe from harm. I was so excited when I saw that the Apple store was carrying this adorable Kate Spade case… Merry early Christmas to myself!



(Similar here)

I think it is adorable and matches quite nicely with my new gold phone :)

What is your favorite case for your phone? Does anyone have this case know if it's sturdy?


PS - Kate Spade also has a one day sale that ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. Use the code GREEN30 for 30% off at checkout. Hurry up, only about an hour left!!

11/19/13

#16 Get a blowout

I finally got to get a hair blowout with my mom and sister when they were in town! As you might remember, getting a blowout was on my list of things to do before I turn 25.

Houston's parents threw a beautiful engagement for us a few weeks ago 1 thought it would be an appropriate time to get our hair done.

Picture from: www.myglowdry.com

Mom, Betsy and I went to GlowDry here in Atlanta to get pampered before the engagement party.


Houston and I with our sweet parents. It was such a gorgeous party, Houston and I felt so loved!

My handsome groom :)

I would definitely recommend trying a blowout bar! There are several all over the country, GlowDry's only location is here in Atlanta but there are many others you can try. I loved getting my hair done there for a special occasion. DryBar is another popular hair blowout bar, I'd love to try that one soon too!

Have you tried a blowout bar before? Will you go back? 

11/3/13

Sneak Peek at Our Engagement Pictures

Houston and I recently went home to take care of several exciting wedding appointments with our fabulous wedding planner Brandee of Blush by Brandee. Our favorite one was being able to take our engagement pictures with the amazingly talented, Kristen Weaver.

We went to a beautiful neighborhood in Winter Park to take our pictures and it was so much fun! Here's a few of the pictures Kristen sent us!








Kristen even let us come back the next day to take a few pictures with the hats that were on the table when Houston proposed to me at my apartment April 20! We had wanted to take some engagement pictures with them and totally forgot the day before!


Thank you for such a fun day Kristen! We cannot wait to see you in March for our wedding!
Only 146 days!

xoxo,
A


10/1/13

My first job!

So today marked a very large milestone in the history of… my life.

Last week as I was approaching the end of my three month internship, I was given an offer letter to become a full-time, full benefits, indefinite employee!!!! 

I cannot tell you what a blessing this company has already been to me and I am so humbled and honored to get to stick around with the awesome people (seriously, the people are my favorite part!) that work at my public relations firm.

My sweet, big sister sent me gorgeous sunflowers last week when I told my family the great news and my fiancé and I made a yummy dinner together to celebrate too! It is such a joyful relief to know that I have my first job!

photo from instagram

Today, the first of the month, marked the first day of my job! I already get to check an item off my list of 25 things to do before I'm 25! You can see the entire list here.

xo,
A

9/26/13

25 before 25

So thanks to some inspiration from some of my favorite bloggers Mackenzie and Carly, I have decided to come up with my own "25 before 25" list.

I've always been a goal-oriented person (I definitely get that from my dad!) and love having something written down so I can know how I'm doing in my progress of accomplishing those goals, so here we go...

1. Write a list of 25 goals and inspire others to do so. (Please comment me a link to your own list!)
2. Get married (hurry up March 29, 2014!)
3. Take a girls trip to Napa Valley.
4. Start my own company.
5. Get a full-time job.
6. RUN an entire half marathon (I've ran/walked two before with my sister, it's time I actually run the whole thing!)
7. Attend a blogging conference.
8. Make an address book with contact information for my friends and family. (Already on my way using Postable.com!)
9. Send out Christmas cards.
10. Take a cooking class.
11. Actually make ten of the recipes from my Pinterest board and blog about them.
12. Send my mom flowers out of the blue.
13. Learn calligraphy. (You can use my link to get $10 off your class if you want to take it with me!)
14. Find glasses I'll actually wear.
15. Have a picnic with Houston in Piedmont Park.
16. Get a blowout at DryBar.
17. Plan and pay for a trip on my own.
18. Open an Etsy shop.
19. Be featured on another blog.
20. Return to Samford for Homecoming.
21. Get a credit card not connected to my parents' bank account.
22. Attend a Chi Omega alumni event.
23. Create a budget and stick to it!
24. Go to the gym 3 times a week for a month.
25. Read 5 books cover to cover. (Might not sound hard for some of you, but I don't think I've read an entire book since high school... I'm more of a movie girl, okay?)

Well there's my list and I can't wait to start crossing things off! I'll keep you all posted here on how my goals are coming! :)

Do you like to set time-sensitive goals? What are some of them?

-A

9/12/13

Recruitment Week!!!


Recruitment Week is one of the most stressful, wonderful, life-changing weeks you will ever experience in college. With Recruitment beginning at Samford (my alma mater) today, I thought I'd post some advice for any women that might be going through this experience this week!

I just wanted to give you a few pieces of advice that were given to me when I came through recruitment and wanted to pass them along. I haven't been able to share them before since I was a student and couldn't talk to PNMs, but now that I've graduated I can say whatever I want :) haha

1HAVE FUN!! Recruitment is such a rare week where you get to meet so many new people and hopefully start new friendships too! Take advantage of this time to learn new faces and make new friends!

2Be yourself :) You want to end up in a house that loves you for you, so pretending to be anyone other than yourself will cheat yourself of finding a place where you feel at home.

3Listen to your Rho Gamma, but also stick with your gut! Rho Gammas do a really great job at being unbiased but that is just plain hard to do when you love your sorority! Besides, I'm biased. I love my sorority! But you need to be in whichever house YOU want to be in! Rho Gammas are there to answer any questions you have, but only you can make your own decision as to which house you want to vote for. Stick with your gut, you'll know where you feel most at home, and vote accordingly!

4You can't make a wrong choice. I ended up being really torn on pref night between two houses, I ended up ranking the other house above my sorority and ended up in my house - I know with every ounce of my being that was Divine. Stay prayerful all week, pray that whatever God wants will happen, and it will! It might not be the house you think you want, but I promise you everything will turn out! Every house at Samford is awesome! I had friends in every house and just trust in the fact that what is meant to happen, will happen! 

5. Lastly, come prepared. It's inevitable that you might have some awkward conversations. Haha some girls you talk to, might just be uncomfortable talking to people they haven't met before, sooo I was given the advice to come with just a few of my own questions in mind if conversations got quiet and I didn't know what else to say! Ask something that can give you insight into what their interests are, as well as what they love most about being a ADPi, AOPi, Chi O, Phi Mu or Zeta! And if their answers sound like something you want to be a part of, it might be a good fit for you! 


I hope this gets you even more excited about Rush! Don't be nervous, I guarantee you the girls "rushing" you are even more nervous!!!

Have a GREAT week and I hope you have a great experience with Recruitment!

#GoGreek
-A

4/27/13

4.20.13 - Best Day Ever!!!

Last weekend was the greatest weekend I've ever had! Houston proposed to me at my apartment last Saturday and he made it so very special for me!

We had quite the weekend, to say the least...

Thursday, I drove over to Atlanta after class for the Taylor Swift concert, he had given me tickets for Christmas and it was the perfect present! The concert was incredible! (Although looking back he did seem a little protective of his phone when I kept trying to steal it to take pictures and video since my phone had run out of space!)



Friday, we drove back to Birmingham for my semi formal for Chi O with friends! As a senior, it was my last sorority event so it was very special to have Houston there with our friends.



Saturday, we didn't have much planned (or so I thought!). He came over and we made breakfast and by coincidence watched The Wedding Planner that was on TV. Then we made a picnic and headed over to the Botanical Gardens in Mountain Brook to eat our picnic, it was the most beautiful, spring day outside! 




Then we went for a walk through Mountain Brook and sat by the stream and talked. We made a plan for the rest of the evening to go see a movie, so we drove back to my apartment so that I could change clothes - but Houston had something very different in mind…

I opened up the door to see stunning flowers and candles covering Juliann's and my apartment and I immediately knew today was the day!!! Houston sat me down and shared some of the most beautiful words he's ever shared with me. He reached under the hats and opened a box, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I SAID YES!!! Overwhelmed with such joy to get to marry my very best friend! We danced to the music that was playing in the background for a few minutes and got to take in these incredible moments together. He then sat me down and asked me to read a letter he had written me about the first time he knew he loved me, two years before.












We started calling family and friends to share the wonderful news with them! After a little time had passed, Houston told me that his parents, as an engagement present were treating us to a very special meal together and that I needed to get changed for our special date, our first dinner together alone as an engaged couple!

We pulled up and walked around the building, I didn't think anything weird about it, but when Houston opened the door and our families and friends were there to surprise me and surround us with love and support! What an incredible day!!














It meant so much to me to get to celebrate with our families and friends right away!! It was so much fun and I just kept staring at the beautiful ring on my hand!

I cannot believe I get to marry Houston!!!! Houston is the most wonderful, godly man. He treats me like a princess and always makes me laugh! He knows how to help me relax when I get stressed or worked up. He supports me in all of my crazy ideas. He is my better half and makes me a better person every single day. I had no idea my love for someone could continue to grow every day like it does for him and I'm so blessed God placed him in my life!

I cannot wait to be his wife!!!

xoxo,
A