Monday, August 31, 2009


Our weekend was low key and perfect.

We got up Saturday and went to the flea market at the fairgrounds. Now, I'm not usually one to frequent flea markets, yard sales, or anything of the like, but I actually requested we go to the flea market and was pretty excited about it. I've been inspired by some trash-to-treasure posts I've been reading recently and was looking for some materials.

It was ridiculously fun to look through all the flea market goodies. There are TONS of vendors at the Raleigh flea market, selling everything from antiques to books to brand new sunglasses and pet supplies. I got lots of inspiration from the antiques tables, and almost bought a few pieces, but wound up deciding against each of them. I definitely wished I had brought my camera -- a post about flea market oddities will have to wait 'til another time.

We DID walk away with two exciting purchases though (even though neither were what we had gone to the flea market for).

The first was a rain barrel. We've been thinking about buying a rain barrel for some time now and have been keeping our eye out for a good (and convenient) deal. We do a LOT of watering around here...lawn, garden, flowers...and our water bill this summer has definitely seen the effects. Hopefully our shiny new rain barrel will help us keep our yard quenched and our water bill low:

We just hooked up the barrel yesterday and after a day of rain today, it's completely overflowing. We can't wait to start watering and try 'er out.

Our second purchase was at the used book table. All hardback books were $1. That's right, ONE DOLLAR for nice, fairly recent hardback books. We bought five. Lee picked out a Tom Clancy book (that he may or may not ever read). I picked out the rest. I am not ashamed to say that my criteria for choosing books was whether or not the spine and cover were pretty (once the book jacket was removed) so that they'd look pretty on a bookshelf. I got:

1. The Bridges of Madison County
2. The Devil Wears Prada
3. The Lovely Bones
4. The Brethren by John Grisham

I haven't read any of these books except The Brethren (and you can never go wrong with adding a John Grisham to your collection, plus the blue and silver spine was pretty) so I'm excited to read each of them.

And the best part was getting to put my "From the Library Of" stamp from Chrissy to good use:

I like used books because they come with a story. When I took the book jacket off of The Bridges of Madison County, three cards fell out. One was a generic Get Well Soon card. One was a shower invitation with a dual purpose -- it included a handwritten message that said "We are praying for you daily - Suzin and Joe told us about your horrible accident!" The last card simply said "Denise and Family, My best wishes to everybody - I hope everything turns out alright." Being the nosy person that I am, this more than intrigued me. Wherever Denise and family are today, I hope they're doing okay.

As for the rest of the weekend, Chrissy and Mike came over on Saturday night. We went to Bass Lake Draft House in Holly Springs for dinner and drinks and then came back and hung out at our house. It was great to be able to catch up with them and enjoy a fun but relaxing night together.

Sunday was a lazy day. It consisted of sleeping in, furniture shopping (but not buying), naps, grocery shopping, and Chinese takeout for dinner. 

All-in-all, a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This past weekend we went to the beach and I did something I've always wanted to do: parasailing.

Our neighbors at the beach, Roland and Susan, were celebrating their anniversary and Susan wanted to give Roland a parasailing trip. So my sister-in-law Teresa and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and tag along.

We were all a little nervous the morning of, but it turned out to be SO. MUCH. FUN. 

Here are Roland and Susan getting strapped in:

And here they are in the air. The clouds look a little ominous in this picture, but it was really a perfect day.

Me and Teresa ready to take off (note the hottie parasailing guy):

And us in the air. This was taken from the back of the boat by Hottie.

In shadow:

And in sunlight:

Getting dipped in the water:

And again:

The next pictures were all taken from the rest of the gang, who followed us around on Lee's boat. I'm so glad we were able to get all of these awesome pictures, from a variety of angles.

I love this crooked shot for some reason:

Taking off:

In the clouds:

Sugar watchin' her mama:

It really was an awesome experience. Not scary at all. In fact, it was incredibly relaxing, because it's so quiet and peaceful when you're up in the air like that.

So, that's one thing to cross off my "life list." Now only about 387 more to go.

P.S. - Teresa just sent me this link today. Check out the Photos tab -- hundreds of sharks were photographed swimming between Shackleford Banks and Fort Macon. That's right where we were dipped into the water, and just four days earlier! I'm glad that's not the sight we saw when we were up in the air.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lake Norman Real Estate

Last post about our vacation, I promise.

But I couldn't talk about Lake Norman without mentioning all of the beautiful, humongous houses. They're everywhere at LKN. Very different from what we're used to on the Pamlico river. Here are a few of the many pics I took.

One giant house, after another, after another:

This one was my absolute favorite. I think because it looks the most like a beach house:

This one was definitely the biggest we saw. Dad said it looked like Disney World. I think it looks more like a cathedral than a house:

And this house was right next door to the house we stayed at. It's for sale. For a cool $2.1 million it can be yours.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Bizarre, How Bizarre

So, I have to tell you about the most bizzare-o thing that happened on our vacation.

The lake house that we were staying at was in a town called Troutman, NC, and we had to drive a ways into town to get to the grocery store. The area is beautiful: houses spread far apart, lots of green pastures and pretty scenery. On our first night, mom, Erin and I made the trek to the grocery store. On the way back, it was starting to get dark and I was in the backseat of the car lost in my thoughts, gazing out the window at the farm houses when I saw something.

It took a few seconds to click in my head that I had seen something out of the ordinary. Then I was speechless, I couldn't get my words out. 

Finally, my mind started chugging along enough to move my mouth: "Uh...uh...I think I just saw some zebras!" I blurted out.

My sister, who was driving, said "yeah, I think I did too." Mom didn't know what in the world we were talking about. "Seriously, I think I just saw two zebra butts. You have to turn around!"

My sister wouldn't turn around. We still hadn't eaten dinner and she was ready to get home. I was NOT happy.

I tell Lee and Dad about it when we get back to the house and they of course think I'm nuts.

Me: There's nothing really that looks like a zebra besides a zebra...what else could it be?

Lee: It was probably a horse or a donkey, that somebody painted like a zebra. Which did it look more like, a horse or a donkey?

Me: Ummmm ... it looked like a ZEBRA.

They tease me about the zebras I thought I saw for two days until finally, we're all in the truck headed to Mooresville for shopping and dinner. As we get close to the house/field with the alleged zebras, Dad slows down. We're all looking for them. We round the corner and THERE THEY ARE.

No denying it. They are bona fide z-e-b-r-a-s:

Of course I had my camera ready and jumped out to take a bunch of pics. There were two of them:

This is pretty much what I saw that first night. Big 'ole zebra butt:

He's actually quite beautiful, huh?

Here's Lee, looking a little bewildered as he points to the ZEBRA in the background:

We pretty much talked about zebras all week. It was the running joke. Somehow, Dad and Lee managed to find a zebra skin display at Ikea to joke on me further:

When we ate at Talley House restaurant a few nights later, I asked the waitress "So what's the deal with the zebras?" "Which ones?" she asks. "There are more than one set of zebras in Troutman, North Carolina?!" "Yep." "Well we were talking about the ones on Talley Rd." "Oh, yeah, those have been there forever."

Ummm, ok? Because that's not weird at all. To have ZEBRAS in your pasture instead of something like, oh, maybe cows? Or horses? What a strange little town.

At least it gave us some excitement for the week.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Week at the Lake

Our week at Lake Norman was both fun and relaxing. On days when we didn't venture out, we spent our time laying out on the dock, reading, swimming, riding on the boat, and just generally being lazy. We did find a cool little restaurant joint on the lake where we could drive up with the boat and have lunch and some beers. It was called River City Grill and Dad and Lee loved it. We had to go there two different days, and Dad would have gone every day if we had let  them.

Here's Dad and Lee enjoying some Thirsty Thursday dollar drafts on the deck:

And here's a shot of Lee, full and happy as we drove away from the restaurant:

On Tuesday, we went to Concord Mills and, my favorite, IKEA! Our main stop at Concord Mills was Bass Pro Shops for Dad and Lee. They spent hours browsing around in there. Then we had fun with the little shooting range they have set up in the store:

And Erin tested out some ATV/Mule type things. She would LOVE to take one of these bad boys home to park under her new carport:

I was excited to take Lee to Ikea. I think he was a little overwhelmed. I didn't take any pictures, since we were too busy shopping like crazy. We saw lots of things we wanted but didn't buy because of either indecision or space constraints in the truck, but we ended up with lots of little accessories and some pictures for a living room project we're excited about.

After shopping, we had dinner at the Talley House restaurant in Troutman. We had driven by it a few times on the way to our house and knew we wanted to try it out. The restaurant was in this big beautiful old house:

The "family style" southern food was right up our alley. We had: fried chicken, country style steak, biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, beets, baked apples, corn and green beans. It was DELICIOUS! Dessert was the most delicious peach cobbler I had ever eaten and the most delicious banana pudding that Lee and Erin say they have ever eaten. I loved this place so much that I even bought a T-shirt.

On Wednesday, we went to Carowinds. Lee convinced me to ride two of the big coasters -- the Carolina Cobra and Afterburn. Once I got over my terrible nerves, they were both awesome! It was REALLY hot that day, so we made our way over to the water park. But it was crowded and after two turns on the lazy river and a bit of the wave pool, we were ready to call it a day.

This was the only pic I got at Carowinds, taken from the Carolina Skytower:

Be sure to tune back in tomorrow for my bizarre Lake Norman sighting!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lake Norman Vacation

We just got back from an awesome week-long vacation at Lake Norman, near Charlotte, NC, with my mom, dad, sister and Lee.

Earlier this year we were trying to decide on a family vacation to take this summer. We were tired of the beach thing, but wanted to go somewhere nice and relaxing. My sister suggested Lake Norman, and we thought it was a great idea since we could enjoy the water and quiet atmosphere, but also be close to good shopping and restaurants. 

I searched online and found a house for us to rent in Troutman, NC. Before I get onto the details of the trip later in the week, I wanted to start by sharing some pics of the house with you. 

The house was big and spacious and had awesome lake views from almost every room. But it definitely had some quirks. It was probably top-of-the-line when it was built back in the 80s, and the owners had done some renovations, but some of the fabulously 80s details remained.

For example, the first master bath:

You probably can't see it, but back in the right corner is the shower. Yep, no doors or curtain or even raised floor, just a shower head in the wall and a drain in the floor. Weird, huh? And you gotta love the fabulous matching toilet and bidet: 

The sauna, however, was awesome and definitely not from the 80s :-)

This was the second master bedroom that Lee and I stayed in. There were three things in abundance in this house: mirrors, vertical blinds and track lighting. They were EVERYWHERE!

And here's our shower/tub. Yet again, no curtain/door to be found. Weird.

We definitely enjoyed the top-floor deck overlooking the lake:

The kitchen had been updated:

And we got a sweet welcome basket, with Ghirardelli chocolates, wine, crackers, and yummy cheeses:

Downstairs rec room with pool and foosball.

This is where Lee and Dad stayed the whole week: out on the boat and pier.

The house was situated on a huge wooded lot with awesome landscaping and two nice decks for laying out:

Another quirky feature of the house: the sounds it made. The doorbell rang the tune of "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad." And the house was equipped with an alarm system, so that anytime anyone opened an outside door, it made a dinging sound. And there was a door to the outside from EVERY room in the house. So, you'd be sitting in the living room and there'd be dings from people coming in from all different doors: downstairs, front door, side patio. My sister took to saying "Welcome to Wal-Mart!" anytime a door dinged. She'd switch it up and say K-mart every once in a while. It was pretty hilarious.

Ok, that's all for now. I'll be back later with details from what we did on our trip, pictures of some of the fabulous houses on Lake Norman, and a post about the most bizarre part of our trip.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Show Us Your Life: Wedding Reception and Honeymoon

It's time for the last wedding installment of the Show Us Your Life Series over on Kelly's Korner. (Sorry it's a little late, but we're just getting back from vacation...more on that later this week.) This week's topic is: your wedding reception and honeymoon.

I've had an awesome response to the first two posts in this series (you can find them here and here). But before I go on to dish the juicy reception details, I have to address one very important issue. The elephant in the room, if you will. Lots of times we bloggers are guilty of only focusing on the good things in life, and sort of skimping over the negative parts. Well, I can't share all of my lovely wedding details with you without painting the whole picture of our wedding day.

You see, IT RAINED. I know you're thinking, 'what's the big deal? it rains on lots of people's wedding days.' Well, it was a huge deal. Seeing as we had planned An Outdoor Ceremony. At The Beach. Overlooking The Water.

For months, I had pictured our wedding ceremony in my head to look a little something like this. The idea of the waterfront ceremony was the reason we wanted to get married at the beach. The reason we asked most of our guests to drive 2+ hours to our wedding.

Oh, we had a back up plan of course. A tent that the ceremony could be held under in case of rain.

We cancelled the tent 3 days before the wedding.

We knew that some rain was coming through but were assured that it would be gone long before the wedding. Well, instead of passing through, the storm system decided to descend upon coastal NC and SIT. For DAYS. It was the most bizarre thing you'd ever seen. Even the weathermen were bumfuzzled.

People kept telling me, "oh, it's good luck if it rains on your wedding day." What? That's the biggest bunch of crap I've ever heard. That's something someone dreamed up to tell rainy-day brides TO KEEP THEM FROM JUMPING OFF THE NEAREST TALL BUILDING. 

I tried very hard to keep it together. On the morning of the wedding, our wedding planner at the country club called to discuss the situation. Luckily, the country club had a pretty large covered porch (that still overlooked the water) where we could have the ceremony. It would be a tight squeeze to fit the "altar" and bridal party, and we wouldn't be able to have chairs for all 200 of our guests, but she assured me that some guests could stand and everyone would fit. I was disappointed. Scratch that. I was devastated. But it would all work out. I was ok with the plan. And still keeping it together at this point.

She calls me back about two hours later. Not only is it raining, she says, but the wind is blowing really hard. It's blowing the rain onto the porch. I'm afraid some of your guests might get wet. And you and Lee and your bridal party, since you'll be closest to the outside. Ok, I say, what do you suggest? Is there another option? By this point my voice is cracking. I'm about to sob. I should be upstairs, getting ready with my bridesmaids in this fabulous beach house my family has rented for the week. I should be laughing and joking and doing my makeup. Instead I'm downstairs holed up in a bedroom, talking on the phone to the wedding planner, listening to the rain, with my mom and sister peeking in and out of the room, wanting to be supportive, but not wanting to say the wrong thing.

Well, says the wedding planner, we can set you, Lee, the pastor and the bridal party up inside on the dance floor. The guests can watch the ceremony from their tables we have set up for the reception.

This is the point where I lose it. I'm thinking, as if Plan B isn't bad enough, now we've gotta resort to Plan-FREAKIN-C?? Ok, I sob, let me think about it and call you back. My mom says, I don't think that's such a bad idea, that might be what we have to do. WHAT?? By this point I'm ready to scream. So I do. "I DID NOT SPEND A YEAR PLANNING THIS WEDDING TO GET MARRIED ON THE DANCE FLOOR OF A COUNTRY CLUB!!"

Ok, ok, says my poor mother. And now Lee is on the phone. Someone asks, "do you want to talk to him?" Yes. I have to talk to him. To hell with all the 'no seeing or talking to the groom before the wedding' -- he's the only one that can make this better.

"Baby, what do you want to do?" By this point he's at the country club with his groomsmen. I say, "I don't want to get married on the dance floor. I don't think I can do it." "Ok then, it's done, we'll do it on the porch. I'll take care of it." And I realize, he doesn't give a shit that it's raining. He's just worried because he knows I'm upset.

And it hits me: I don't care where we get married or how. All that matters is that I'm married to this man at the end of the day. This man who knows exactly what I'm feeling and why. This man who puts my happiness before his own, who will do anything to keep me from being upset. That's. All. That. Matters.

So I take a deep breath. Put on my big girl panties. Dry my tears as best as possible. And go upstairs to be with my bridesmaids and get dressed.

Yes, the rain was a nuisance, but the next thing you know, I'm standing next to my dad.

And he's walking me down the aisle.

Down to the man who cares so much about me.

"Are you ok?" he whispers when I get there. I smile and nod. And then we can begin, once he knows that I'm ok.

It wasn't what I had envisioned. No one could see or hear the string quartet I was so excited about hiring. Some of our guests got wet. Some of the outdoor pictures I had planned were no longer possible. But you know what? Our ceremony was incredibly INTIMATE. We were literally surrounded by our family and friends. Our 175+ guests were so close it seemed like we could reach out and touch them.

Here's a you-may-now-kiss-the-bride shot to demonstrate the intimacy of the ceremony :-)

And, I have to say, I think the drama of the ceremony made the reception all the more amazing. It was such a relief to have the ceremony done and be out of the rain that I wasn't going to allow ANYTHING else to get me down. So now, onto the reception details!

Starfish escort cards led everyone to their table:

And placecards hung from the back of each person's chair:

For our favors we did a candy buffet, with purple and green themed clear chinese takeout containers. This was a HUGE hit with the kids and kids-at-heart.

This is technically a ceremony detail, but I worked so hard on the handmade programs that I had to include them:

Loved, loved, LOVED our wonderful cake. It was five tiers of flawless cake perfection.

Here's a feeding-the-cake shot:

In lieu of a traditional guestbook, we did a polaroid guestbook, where we asked guests to take a picture of themselves or their group, and leave it in the guestbook along with a little note. This was probably one of my favorite details of the wedding, because we will treasure that guestbook forever. It is so sweet and ridiculously hilarious all at the same time.

However, all of these details pale in comparison to the sheer fun that we had at our reception. I still have people who randomly come up to us to tell us was an amazingly fun wedding it was.

Remember when I was telling you about the relief we felt once the ceremony was taken care of? Well, it looked a little something like this:

And this:

And this:

Then there was this guy:

And the cupid shuffle. Our DJ said it was the largest crowd he's ever had on the dance floor for the cupid shuffle. This may or may not have been due to the fact that we practiced ahead of time.

I love this one of Lee and his sister:

And this is one of my favorites from the night:

And before you know it, it's time for the last dance. The DJ plays "New York, New York."

Huh? Not exactly what I pictured as the last dance song. But everyone forms a chorus line and starts kicking their legs and getting really into it. And what happens next is like something out of a movie. All of a sudden Lee is up in the air.

Everyone's cheering and laughing and I think it's the greatest thing ever. Until all of a sudden I'm up in the air myself.

And for the next 30 seconds or so there we are, in the air, swaying and laughing. And the reality of this wonderful night hits me. All the months of planning have paid off. Here we are, surrounded by the people that love us the most, soaking it all in. That, my friends, is a pretty darn good way to start the rest of your life.

Of course, we still had to do the exit:

And here we are in the limo, sweaty and tired, but amazingly happy:

Oh, and there was a honeymoon as well. That was just as amazing. We spent a week at the Excellence Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. It was fabulous, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for an awesome vacation. The accommodations were great, the unlimited meals and beverages were amazing, and we were literally waited on hand and foot. You can see pictures here, in the photobook of our honeymoon that I recently created. (If you need it, Book ID is S2581144 and Password is 2692601.)
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