we’ll live while we’re young

lyrics from Johnnyswim’s song, Live While We’re Young

Can I just say HOW in the WORLD is January practically over? I mean, honestly, these last few weeks have simultaneously flown by and dragged on. But, I still really feel like just yesterday we were celebrating NYE in NYC.

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would really give a lot to be back on vacay

Anyway, this has been a pretty busy January, and it’s been a FULL one. I’ve enjoyed time spent with best friends and time spent with new friends, early mornings at work and delays due to ice/snow, 72-degree days and 16-degree days, meals at Charlotte favorites and meals at new Charlotte favorites, and so much more.

The Friday after my birthday, a group of some of the best women I know came out to my favorite Charlotte restaurant, Paco’s Tacos, to celebrate my birthday. It was the night it was forecasted to snow, so not as many people could come as originally planned. But, it was still so much fun! I’m so thankful for these sweet women, how they invest in me, and how they push me closer and closer to Christ.

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seriously love these ladies (plus others not pictured) so much

It snowed the next day, and while there wasn’t that much where I live in Charlotte, it was pretty. I did enjoy just curling up for most of the day, lying in my bed reading. The next day was by far the coldest day we’ve had here this year, but it was also one of the prettiest. I happened to be on the third floor at church that afternoon, and it was too pretty to not take a picture!

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Beautiful OBC!

The next weekend was MLK weekend, and my friends from college and I had a weekend planned to the LITERAL middle of nowhere, North Carolina. It was absolutely wonderful, but we were in the woods, no doubt. I don’t think any of us had planned that we would be so far from civilization (okay, real life, we had people not that far from us), but it was honestly just what this tired kindergarten teacher needed.

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Two of our other friends ended up not being able to come, but it really was a good weekend with the four of us (plus Scout). 

We spent the time sleeping in, making big breakfasts and excellent dinners, riding around the mountains, watching movies, playing games, and just catching up. It was really a sweet time of laughing with my bestie at the antics of the guys. Just knowing I could roll out of bed in my pajamas and not be judged is so nice. I mean that literally and figuratively. These are the friends of no judgment, and that is really such a sweet gift in friendship. Oh, and we watched Scout a lot of the time. I mean, how cute is she?

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Here she is thinking, “Aunt Ashton is my favorite.”

On my way there, I stopped in my beloved Black Mountain and got a treat from my favorite, The Dripolator (a place you should go to if you’re ever in Black Mountain). I got a little teary-eyed when I passed the camp exit (you can see some of camp from I-40 in the winter). I’m so thankful for where I am now, but I do really miss the sweet community that was formed in those summers.

BUT, NO FEAR, dear blog readers (a.k.a Mom, Dad, and Kaila), I got to see my sweet camp-turned-real-life friend, Kasey, on my way home. We met in Spartanburg (which I used to think had nothing until I traveled to Graham County, North Carolina) at The Farmer’s Table (another recommendation if you ever find yourself in Spartanburg). We talked about life and plans and dreams and goals. We laughed like we always do, and I’m so thankful for camp and friendships born from there.

I’ve been getting back in the groove, slowly but surely, and I’m really, really, really thankful for a few months that seem slow/unplanned. Last year will definitely go down as one of the best albeit busy, but there’s got to be something said of restful years, which is what this one, Lord willing, will be. While enjoying a slower pace of life these days, I’ve been able to check out some music I’ve wanted to and watch a few movies that have been on my list for a while. I’m not reading as much, but I have at least one recommendation so far. Hope you’re enjoying your spring-like January (for the record, we don’t have the heat on as I write this #cheap #broke #hotwinter).

January Media Recommendations:

  • 13 Hours: WOW. Incredible. Despite your political views and how they affect this story, this movie is incredible. Definitely one of my favorite “based on a real story” movies.
  • Johnnyswim – Diamonds: WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN ALL MY LIFE? Seriously. So good. I’m a little mad at myself for not listening to them earlier.
  • Finding Dory: We watched this when we were in Robbinsville, because, well, there wasn’t much else to do. And we wanted to see it. It was really good! Better than I expected, honestly.
  • “Find You Here” by Ellie Holcomb: Man, her songs always wreck me. Her new album, “Red Sea Road”, comes out next week, but until then, listen to this single. I have listened to it approximately 100 times in the 2.5 days I’ve owned it (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but still, it’s SO good).
  • How I Built This : NPR: I heard about this podcast from another podcast, and I listened to a couple of the episodes on my way back from Robbinsville. It’s a podcast about entrepreneurs, innovators, etc. The one with the Airbnb founder is really interesting, and I have added this to my go-to list for road trips.
  • New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp: My friend Kelly gave me this for my birthday, and WOW. I’ve had it six days, and I like it so much. It’s convicting, points you back to Christ, and is perfect for those mornings where I don’t have a lot of time. I feel like I’ve been wanting something like this for a while, and I’m thankful for it!

NYE in NYC (#pamcaketakesnyc)

A group of seven of us, all mutual friends of Patrick and Kaila, hit the Big Apple during Christmas break. We were there for NYE, and while we didn’t do Times Square (because, really), it was such a fun trip!

We stayed in Jersey City, and the only issue I had staying there was that we didn’t leave from Newark. It would’ve made everything so much easier. When you go to NYC, you’re literally in your room to sleep and shower. It’s not like this is the place you’re spending all of your time, because…well, you’re in NEW YORK CITY. All that to say, I’d advise to go the cheaper, still safe, route. But, if money isn’t an issue, then by all means stay in the city. When we stayed with my cousin in the summer, she lives in Manhattan, and that really was nice/convenient.

Anyway.

We flew into Hartford, CT, because one of our friends lives there, and we stayed there the first night. It was super fun to see where Cole lives, as well as be on the look out for Richard and Emily (#GilmoreGirlsForevaaaaa). We didn’t get a ton of time there, but we did manage to go to a real L.L. Bean store AND explore Yale. Super fun.

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After exploring Yale/New Haven, we hopped on the train for a pretty scenic route to NYC. We got off at Grand Central Station, and I just need to tell a little story right now. When Kaila and I went to NYC this summer, we were exploring near Grand Central and knew we could take the subway from Grand Central to the World Trade Center. We were super excited to see the iconic Grand Central, and we came in on a side entrance. We never saw what is in all the movies and pictures. We were so confused. My cousin, Lydia, who we stayed with, promised us that we came in on the wrong side, so we were super excited when Cole told us we could take the train to Grand Central (and actually see the right thing). And we did!

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After meeting up with K + P’s friend, Max, we headed to Jersey City and checked into our place. We grabbed a quick/late lunch then went to check out the city. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we hung out in Jersey for a little while, then we got to the Big Apple. That night, we saw the tree at Rockefeller, Trump Tower, Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and ended in Times Square. We had dinner at Junior’s, and while I’m glad we went there, it wasn’t my favorite. But, the cheesecake was delicious!

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Our friend Addison got to Jersey City while we were at Junior’s, so we were able to start the next day fully as #PAMCAKE (all of our first initials, for those who were wondering). The guys headed to the city the next morning to get tickets for Broadway, then we met them in Central Park. We actually spent less time there then I planned, but it was just the right amount of time for the perfect photo op! 

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After lunch, we went to Broadway where we saw one of the last shows of Fiddler on the Roof. It was probably not my first choice for a show, but it was really fun, and I’m glad we got the opportunity to go. From there, we headed to the MET, and let me just say it was everything and then some. Also, it snowed as we drove there, and I don’t think I could’ve asked for a more perfect experience. We went to Lombardi’s, in Little Italy, that night for dinner, and that is definitely a place I’d recommend!

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 On NYE, we spent most of the morning doing the Statue of Liberty/Liberty Island. We took the ferry in Jersey, saw Lady Liberty, then hopped back on the boat to head to Manhattan. Our original plan was to go up in it, but we didn’t get tickets in time. No worries. It was incredibly cold and windy, so it was kind of nice to zip over there and zip back to the city. 

 After seeing Ground Zero, we split up for a bit. The guys + Elizabeth headed to the Museum of Natural History while Kaila and I went to Macy’s and on a bit of a dessert adventure. For the record, they all said the Museum of Natural History was super great. Kaila and I had fun, too, and we managed to find the place we ended up eating dinner at on NYE. Which, also, let me just insert right here–everything worked out fine for us on NYE, but if you go to NYC on NYE and don’t do Times Square, be prepared to spend some money. Or eat in a place not near that area. Which is what we did. We managed to find a place to eat in Stone Street, the cutest literal stone street, near Wall Street. Beckett’s was a great choice, and I’d go there again in a heartbeat. Probably the best meal I had the whole time we were there. After that, we ended up near Times Square, but not in it, to watch the ball drop. It was really fun to be IN the city at that time! 

We all had flights and had to check out the next morning, so we only had time to grab brunch before we had to separate. We ended up at this cute pancake (ha) house near our AirBnB, and it was also maybe the best meal I had on the trip. Nutella + strawberry pancakes and bacon and coffee? A perfect start to my next year of life. 

All in all, it was a great trip. I’d wished I’d been able to have another week to recover before heading back to work, but it was so worth it. Pretty positive I want to take a NYE trip every year. 

2017 goals

Okay, I know, I know. We’re already about 1/12th of the way into the year, and I’m just now getting to this post. BUT, if you’d had the last 2-3 weeks I’ve had, you’d understand.

I told my friend Kelly at church on Wednesday that “I have no plans! No plans. I might see my parents. I might go home. I might not. No plans! For the rest of the year. No weddings. No showers. Nothing!” [Mom and Dad, I will see you.] Literally, the only thing on my calendar for the next six weeks (besides normal church activities) is to babysit one Friday night. That’s it! 

It’s bliss. 

After a really busy year, I’m honestly super pumped to head into 2017 not having tons of plans. It’s quite refreshing. And it gives me a chance to do all of the things I’ve been wanting to do in Charlotte that I never have before/didn’t get to last year. So, without much more rambling, here are my 2017 goals (because the planner in me can’t have zero plans). 

  • Go to the gym 3-4 times per week. If you’ve ever had the privilege of meeting my dad, you’ve had the privilege of meeting one of the most disciplined people in the world. I have so much respect for him in many regards, but especially that one. You know what I’m disciplined in? Reading a book in a day. Going to Gap when they have a sale. Eating a lemon about once a week. NOT going to the gym. I’m not good at it. I don’t like it, but I want to. So, here’s to hoping that happens in 2017. 
  • Go to the Mint Museum. A goal from last summer that never happened. So, let’s make it happen this year!
  • Write more. I honestly don’t think I have the emotional space to really do this, but I want to try harder to cultivate some time and space to do this. Another area where I need to be more disciplined. 
  • Budget well. Now I sound like a full-grown adult, eh? Well, it’s about time that I really try and manage this better, so here’s to hoping in happens in 2017. 
  • Make strawberry jam. Another one from the 2016 summer goals list (actually, this is at least from 2013 or 2014) that never happened. 
  • Read all of the Little House on the Prairie books. I have a whole lot of classics I’ve never read but have always wanted to. 2016 was the Anne of Green Gables year, so I’m claiming 2017 to be the year Laura Ingalls Wilder blows me away! 
  • Deep clean my condo. Something that just really needs to be done. And well. 
  • Go somewhere new. Where? With whom? Who knows? (This is super vague so that it can actually get done!)
  • Visit my people. I sure do love my CLT community, but I also really love my friends of yore. (Remember that Friends episode where Rachel only knows two time periods? Yesteryear and yore? I digress.) Anyway, I do love them all, and at some point in 2017, I’d like to visit them all. They would be: Kaila + Patrick, Kasey + Aaron + other Greenville people, my cousins, Chelsea, and Casie, Graham, Jack, and Joe. 
  • Grow in CLT relationships. I sure do love my church body. My friends here are incredible. I pray this year will only strengthen those relationships! 

2016 recap

Here are my top moments of 2016 in chronological order (since I obviously love a good recap post, why not?):

January: Turning 24; starting to host my girls’ small group at my house; weathering the winter storm with Mom in CLT; taking pottery

February: Celebrating Mme’s life in Aiken; starting young girls’ events at OBC with sweet friends (I was off social media for this month and can legitimately not remember what happened then.)

March: Becoming a member at OBC; having Kaila up for the weekend; celebrating Dad’s birthday; visiting Kasey, Aaron, and Abby in Greenville; taking Jack and Joe out for an afternoon for their birthday; my friend Maddie moving in; working the Drew Holcomb merch table with my friend Michelle

April: EK coming up for the night/our painting session with Evelyn Henson; Kaila’s bridal shower in Appling; seeing The Oh Hellos with Aaron and Kasey at the USNWC

May: Road trip to DC with Aubrey, Katie, and Maddie; Mom coming up for Mother’s Day; being on the Giddy Up, Eunice book team; Kaila’s bachelorette weekend (this month felt so busy, but I literally have no idea why)

June: Finishing my FIRST YEAR OF TEACHING; #SurpriseBestFriendTrip; surprising Dad for Father’s Day; SLEEPING IN

July: Fourth of July weekend in Atlanta; Kaila and Patrick’s wedding; spending two weeks in Augusta/Atlanta/Hilton Head; Elizabeth’s visit to CLT; SLEEPING IN SOME MORE

August: Olympics party at my condo; my friend Rachel moving in; starting my second year of teaching; Kasey’s visit to CLT

September: Visit home for Casie’s birthday/to hang out with the boys; visiting EK in Greenville; camp reunion at Look Up Lodge

October: Starting to teach Sunday School at OBC; EK’s visit to CLT; lots of time spent with family; Anthony and Kristen’s wedding

November: OBC’s The Table for women; OBC girls trip to Boone; Thanksgiving with Jordan/Sofia and kiddos in Augusta; time spent with college friend in Augusta

December: Christmas pajama party at my condo; Christmas at Oakhurst; CHRISTMAS BREAK; gingerbread house making with the boys/time spent with them plus Casie; Christmas with the fam; NYC trip

2016bestnine: TV Shows/Movies/YouTube Videos

One of my favorite things to do when I can stay up late, so usually on Friday nights only, is to catch up on Jimmy Fallon. I always manage to find some of the most hilarious videos there. Most of these will probably be those. Not all, but most.

  1. This Is Us–If you haven’t seen this TV show, you are literally missing out. It’s really well done. I rarely think that about NBC shows, but this one is definitely one of the best. I’m really looking forward to watching this in 2017.
  2. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life–Regardless of how you feel about the ending, it was good to watch these. It was fun to have the Gilmore Girls back for a little bit.
  3. Homeland–I binge watched this one week in the summer, and I will be honest. It’s intense. But, I did find it really interesting. If you’re looking for something lighthearted, this isn’t it.
  4. Below Deck Mediterranean–My friend Elizabeth told me about this show when she came up to visit me this summer, and in about three days, I’d watched all the episodes. Ridiculous, but that’s just what happens in the summer. It’s a reality show about the crew of a yacht, and I thought it was really good!

2016bestnine: CLT faves edition

Charlotte has so many great places to eat, to dessert, to relax, etc. This is mainly going to be restaurants in the CLT area that I have grown to really enjoy!

  1. Paco’s Tacos: Located in the South Park area of Charlotte, this fun Tex-Mex restaurant is one of the best in Charlotte. It’s a great place to get chips and salsa, as well as guacamole (if that’s your thing) or tacos. My mom’s a fan of their soup, and I always get their chicken nachos.
  2. Duck Donuts: This isn’t a Charlotte only kind of place, but it’s not a chain, either. They have locations all up the East Coast, but the one in Dilworth is the only one I’ve been to. SO good. Different than Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts because they are more like old fashioned donuts. Honestly, I’ve started to really like these better!
  3. Whiskey Warehouse: They claim to have the best rooftop patio in Charlotte, and I think they do. Their food is good, but it’s really the location that sells this restaurant. It’s in the Plaza Midwood area of CLT, and the views from the rooftop patio are out of this world.
  4. Zada Jane’s: Also located in Plaza Midwood, this restaurant is a classic twist on something different. There are plenty of veggie/organic options as well as plenty of meat lover options. It’s so good!
  5. Crepe Cellar: This is in NODA, a really cool area near Plaza Midwood. We went here for a birthday celebration, and the French lover in me enjoyed this place so much. Definitely one to check out if you’re visiting CLT.
  6. The Peculiar Rabbit: Okay, so clearly I like to hang out in the Plaza Midwood area. This is a great place for all meals, but I’m a personal fan of their brunch. It’s also three stories, so there are lots of great seating options!
  7. Midwood Smokehouse: Obama came here, so if going to places where the President went is your thing, then this is your place. But really, it’s a great BBQ place, and I really like it. Of course, it’s also in the Plaza Midwood area.
  8. The King’s Kitchen: While Paco’s is more than likely my favorite place on this list, The King’s Kitchen is the one that I want you to visit the most. It’s classic Southern food with a mission. They work with The Dream Center in Charlotte to employ homeless/those in poverty, 100% of the proceeds go to feed the homeless in Charlotte, and all of the food is local. Definitely worth your money.
  9. Dandelion Market: Emma Kate and I randomly came upon this place when she was in town, and it was the best stumble upon ever. It was so good. It’s like a little Irish pub. You don’t even feel like you’re in CLT when you’re there. It’s really so great.

Honorable Mentions: