Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Yard Befores

Who wants to place bets on how long it will take me to post the afters?

I like our yard and I think it looks on par with others in our neighborhood. There is definitely room for improvement though and I'm on a mission to make it look good. I know it will evolve over the years and may take a few years for everything to mature and really get how I want them to be but Dad's helping me make a plan and I hope to execute the start of my plans soon. For now, here are some before pictures.

Looks way better from far away. If you get up close the bushes and weeds are out of control.

Dead grassy patches courtesy of the trashcans. 

My goals for the yard includes adding color, creating a bed around the mailbox so it's easier to mow, and changing the birdbath area. That big tree next to the sidewalk makes it hard to get out of a car right there and I think the birdbath is just gross....it just holds stagnant water. I'd really like to replace it with a solar powered lamp post. I also have seen a purple flowering tree in some of my neighbors yards that I absolutely love so I'm hoping to determine exactly what it is and put one in our yard!

Monday, March 30, 2015

CB Awards

I was invited to the 2014 Awards of Excellence awards hosted by my company and the event was last night. It was a huge honor to be invited! You have to reach certain production standards to be invited so needless to say I was surprised and excited to get the invitation in my work mailbox a few weeks ago.

The event was held at the Angus Barn Pavillion in Raleigh and it was gorgeous! My only wish was that Derrick could have been there with me. Unfortunately, due to budget reasons, they don't allow significant others to come so I was on my own.

When I got there they checked my coat and had me pose on the "red carpet" and this this crazy red lady on stilts!

The venue was gorgeous!

We had hor d'oerves for the first hour and then a delicious dinner followed by the award ceremony. I was given the Sterling Society award with about 20 other agents who met those production requirements. There were a lot larger awards and honors given out afterwards so now I have my sights set on those!

It was a fun night and I'm hoping to be invited again next year!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring is Here!

Derrick and I have been keeping up with our Insanity workouts for a week and a half now! Doesn't sound like much but we typically don't stick with workouts this long. I think we're both realizing that our college Frisbee metabolisms have been carrying us for the last couple years and now it's finally starting to slow down. It's nice to keep each other accountable and really sweat again....although there are definitely days when I don't want to do it. I'm already feeling better, stronger, and thinner though so I'm definitely planning on keeping it up!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to jump headfirst into spring! I am loving the longer days and warmer weather. Derrick and I seeded the lawn about a week and a half ago and so far it looks like it didn't do a thing. Not sure how long it's supposed to take to see little baby grassies but so far nada. I am starting to make other plans for our yard though and luckily my dad is a landscaping pro and is only a call away!

Today I made a quick trip to Michaels to update an old wreath for the front yard. Nikki gave us this wreath right after we got married and it stayed on our front door for the next two years. It was looking great for the first year but then we started finding flowers around the breezeway the second year and by the end it was just plain sad.

I definitely wanted to re-use the wreath. Nikki's mom made it out of branches from their mountain house and I love it! So, I stripped it down and started over!

Here's where we ended up!

I think it's really cute with our little hello. and I love that I was able to re-use the M. I was thinking about re-painting it but I think the green still works. I started out by wrapping wire around the M to keep it on the wreath but I didn't like that look so I ended up stapling three staples halfway into the back of the M and weaving the wire through those and around the wreath. Worked like a charm! For now, the flowers are just stuck in through the twigs of the wreath and staying well but I may need to go back and wire them into place if they start blowing away. I don't want to hot glue them because I'd like to be able to use the wreath as long as possible!

I also got some fresh flowers for our kitchen table!

It's gross and rainy today but this is making it feel a little more cheerful! Tonight my friend Peggy is coming into town to stay with us and cheer on the Wolfpack. I'm excited! I haven't seen Peggy in years!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bean Time!

Saturday in Chicago was touristy day so prepare yourself for picture overload! Mom, Dad, and I caught a cab to Jay's apartment and we grabbed breakfast at Yolk before heading up to tour his apartment. Yolk was delicious but the portions were huge!

This is about the time Jay asked me where I got my Stalin jacket...

This is Jay's building! He lives on the very top floor overlooking the city skyline!

Looking outside Jay's window. Isn't it amazing? I could lay on his couch and look down at the street for hours. It was very cool.

Sears Tower from Jay's apartment!

After breakfast Jay took us to his hostel. Before he started living in Chicago full time he would stay in a hostel not far from the business school. He made a huge impact there revamping their marketing and eventually introduced the hostel idea to about 10 other Booth students who came in just for weekends also.

After the hostel we headed to find the outside art pieces in Chicago which meant we were heading to the bean!!! On the way we passed these very cool head sculptures. They looked full and huge from the side but from straight on they were actually very narrow. It was a very cool effect.

Then we headed to the Bean! It was top on my site seeing Chicago list and it did not disappoint. I loved it!! It's funny because after I got home I kept talking about it and a lot of my friends had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently it's not as well known as I thought but it was the only thing on my list to see for some reason.

I think the skyline reflection in it is just amazing!

After the family peeled me away from the bean we headed to the river to take an architecture cruise. I wasn't sure what to think about it at first. I'm not a huge history buff so I wasn't sure if it would keep my attention or not. It turned out to be amazing. One of the favorite things that we did. Our guide was fantastic. She was funny, and quirky, and extremely intelligent. If you go, ask for Sarah! It was nice to get off our feet for an hour and soak in all the sights along the river that we would have missed otherwise.

Those bottom layers are a parking deck and the whole building is nicknamed the corncob.

Gleacher Center! This is where Jay had most of his classes!

We ended the day with a tour of Gleacher center and then cheering the wolfpack on to a victory over Villanova. Because of our victory over Villanova Derrick is threatening to put me on a plane back to Chicago so we can all be in the same place for this weeks game.

After the game we capped of our night and our Chicago trip with a long trip down memory lane. My Dad went to podiatry school in Chicago. Coincidently, his first year he lived in a dorm that was directly across the street from Jay's hostel. Pretty cool! On the last night, Jay wanted to drive us around outside the city to see parts of Chicago that we hadn't seen yet so the mission was to find the two places that dad lived, besides to dorm his first year.

For the first house, Dad could remember the street name and that it was behind Wrigley field. Seriously...he lived right behind left field. That one we found with very little problem!

The next one took a lot more of a hunt. It was years and years ago and the city has changed so much! My Dad hasn't been back there for 30 years so I'm impressed we found it at all! I rely so much on my GPS I find it hard to go anywhere without it so color me impressed when we pulled up to the Wyndham Apartments!


We were able to follow a resident in and see the lobby. It was as extravagant and odd as Mom had described :)

It was very cool to see where Dad was pre-kids. I'm sure most people are like this but it's hard to imagine your parents before they had kids. They had a whole life before we came along! It's funny to think that our kids won't know anything about the life Derrick and I have now and our lives are going to change so much when we have kids. Maybe we'll be taking our kids down memory lane like this one day....though we might avoid Derrick's college apartment...safety first! :) 
Chicago was awesome! I'd love to go back with Derrick and spend a little more time seeing the sights and getting some shopping in. Jay isn't sure how much longer he'll be there but I think he'll soak up the city life while he's there!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jay Conquers Chicago Booth

You probably remember when I bragged on my older brother for winning the Chicago Booth Commuter Award. Jay has been balancing a full time job and a weekend MBA program for the last 3 years. The first two years he was flying from Richmond to Chicago every Friday and then back again on Sunday evening. I don't know how he did it! This last and final year his company found a position for him in Chicago so he's been able to live in Chicago, work M-F and then go to school on the weekends. Still strenuous but a lot easier then dealing with the exhaustion of travel on top of everything else. 
Mom, Dad, and I were able to fly up for his graduation last weekend and I am so happy that I got to be there. We had an amazing time celebrating Jay and this tremendous accomplishment. We arrived early Friday morning and graduation was that afternoon so Jay took us to University of Chicago's main campus. It is beautiful! 

Isn't this stunning? It opened up into a huge courtyard.

We grabbed lunch inside the university before heading off to get ready for graduation.


This was the cathedral where graduation was held. It started at 3:00 and we were in line just after 2:00. It was already stretched down to the street and around the corner.

Once inside, we were able to grab the last three seats together. We got lucky because there was still a huge line filing in behind us. A lot of the people after us had to stand because they ran out of seats. The cathedral was so big they had to set up TV monitors so that you could see the graduates accept their diploma.

We did manage to grab a pictures of Jay as he walked in!

I thought the ceiling was amazing!

Officially a graduate of Chicago Booth and a Master of Business Administration!

I was obsessed with these vines growing up all of the buildings. Apparently they are amazing in the spring and summer when they are blooming and covered in leaves.

After graduation Jay had to head to his last final exam so Dad, Mom, and I headed to the hotel where we watched the Duke game and crashed for the night. I'll post next time about our touristy adventures on the next day!