Ready, Set, Weekend

This week has been one of the easiest I’ve had since moving to Charlotte, thanks to having my sister and brother-in-law in town. Every night this week, I got to come home to a spotless apartment, a home cooked meal and a bathed, clothed and fed little boy, bubbling with infectious joy over having some of his favorite people in the world in the same room. As effortless as this week has been, it did bring some challenges, like the resurgence of Bean’s spoiled and bratty behavior in the presence of his Aunt and Uncle. Still, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Avon and I took advantage of having babysitters and had a date night at Charlotte Magazine’s Best Restaurants Party at The Fillmore. The sold out event featured unlimited food tastings from over 20 different restaurants named on this year’s 50 Best Restaurants List. I started to share the experience on my Instagram stories, but quickly gave up in favor of grabbing more tiny plates of food. My favorite dish of the night was the jalapeño sausage with sweet onion from Oak Steakhouse. Avon loved the pork belly donut from Stone Table, which also won the Judge’ Choice award of the night. I already knew that my guy had good taste. And speaking of good taste, can I take a moment to appreciate my handsome date?

(By the way, I’m going to wear this dress again, and again and again, if I’m lucky. When you see it, please treat it as if its the first time. My dress deserves some respect.)

Bean got to meet Carolina Panthers OG Tyler Larsen at school this week. I told him to take a picture with him and, well…he had a different interpretation of what I meant. I bought that camera when he was born to capture and gifted it to him last week to support his growing interest in photography. So far, the camera is full of shots of the floor, the sky, the backseat of the car and the most unflattering, blurred photos of me I’ve ever been mortified to see. But, everyone has to start somewhere, right?

Thanks to my sister, my apartment is clean and dinner is ready through Sunday, so I’m looking forward to devoting the weekend to passion projects. I learned that Charlotte Mecklenburg Library card holders get a free subscription to, an online educational site that includes over 3,000 courses (and over 130,000 videos) in popular fields like web design, web development, IT, education/instruction, media production, and business. I’ve already added several blogging and photography courses to my playlist and also plan to get out and practice what I’ve learned, especially since my town recently announced a photo contest with prizes from local businesses. There’s even a category for submissions from photographers ages 15 and younger, so Bean and I could both win!

What are your weekend plans? Fill me in below or using #ReadySetCLT across social media! Got a suggestion? Send them to me on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!


10 Fun Things to Do in Charlotte This Spring

It’s officially spring and though the weather in Charlotte hasn’t quite caught on yet, I’m more than ready to embrace the new season and the possibilities (and the warm weather!) that it brings.

This spring, I get to celebrate a major milestone: the six month anniversary of my move to Charlotte. I plan to take advantage of the occasion (and the warmer weather) by getting to know my new home even better through these 10 events and activities:

Fall 2017 Goals

Attend the Charlotte Spring Fair // I can count the amount of times I’ve been to a fair on two fingers; that includes the trip Avon and I took to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh when I moved here last October. I had so much fun (and funnel cake!), but couldn’t help but think of how much fun Bean would have had too if he was with us. Now that he is with us, we’ll get to share the experience with him and we don’t have to wait until the fall or travel more than an hour away to do it! And did I mention there would be funnel cake?

Tour the botanical gardens // I’m in awe of the blooming flowers and trees here (can you tell by my Instagram?). They’re unlike anything I saw back home in Brooklyn. I would love to learn more about North Carolina’s native plants and of course, photograph them. According to Charlotte’s Got A Lot‘s list of 101 Fun Things to Do in Charlotte, I’ll have my pick with the Daniel Stowe Botanical GardenMcGill Rose GardenWing Haven Gardens & Bird Sanctuary and UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens all in the city.

Surprise Avon with a creative date // During the spring season, Avon and I both celebrate birthdays (his is nine days before mine), as well as our dating anniversary. I cannot wait to plan something special for him. My loyal, supportive and very handsome boyfriend actually reads this blog (#heyboo) so I won’t share what I have in mind. But this list offers some pretty great ideas.

Explore the great outdoors // We had a lot of fun hiking in Crowders Mountain State Park and I declared to do more outdoor activities. The U.S. National Whitewater Center offers both land and water activities for all skill levels. That’s perfect for newbies like us!

#FoodTruckFridays // Food trucks are pretty common in New York City, but Food Truck Fridays seem to be exclusive to Charlotte. I’ve started seeing advertisements for Food Truck Fridays in several neighborhoods, including my own. Maybe we can taste some local fare and visit a new neighborhood as as added bonus. South End, anyone?

Learn a new skill // My DSLR camera has spent more time tucked away in my closet than it has in my hands, simply because I’ve never taken the time to learn how to use it. Until now. I’m actively looking for an in-person photography class to level up. I’ve been eyeing the courses at SkillPop,  which offers bite-sized, focused classes on a wide range of subjects taught by local experts, for my chance.

Try an alternate mode of transportation // I’ve mentioned how driving everywhere has impacted my lifestyle (and my waistline!). This spring, I plan to increase my activity levels by leaving my car and home and finding other ways to get around. Public transportation in Charlotte may not be as extensive as public transportation in New York City, but it could be one day. In fact, the LYNX Blue Line expansion opened last week, taking Charlotteans from 7th Street Station in Center City through the NoDA (North Davidson) and University areas. Add the walking that I’ll be doing while exploring new neighborhoods and I should be down a few dress sizes…eventually.

Spend a day in Freedom Park // As part of my goals to get active and spend time outdoors, I’m planning to explore Charlotte’s local parks. I’ve heard about Freedom Park a lot. With 98-acres of athletic fields, playgrounds, walking trails and a 7-acre lake, there’s plenty for the whole family — including our dog, Mason, to do!

Have a family photo shoot using the Queen City as our background // I’ve gotten used to being behind the camera, but at least once this spring, I’d like to be on the other side of the lens. Rather than take stiff portraits with generic backgrounds at a studio, I want to hire a lifestyle photographer to capture authentic photos of us in action around the city.

Decorate at least one room in my apartment // While I already feel at home here in Charlotte, my apartment still has a long way to go before it looks like the home I always dreamed of. One area that could use some attention is the outdoor patio, especially since I plan to spend as much time outside enjoying the warm weather as I possibly can.

So, what do you think? Got a suggestion or three for me to add? Ready, set, comment below!


To Bey or Not to Bey: 4 Tips to Keep You Focused On Your Money Goals

I am a card-carrying member of the Beyhive. For those who aren’t, that’s the name given to international superstar Beyoncé’s loyal fan base. I like to think of the red laminated VIP badge that I got with my Formation World Tour ticket package as my unofficial membership card. Before that, it was printouts of tickets from the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour and the original On the Run tour she did with her husband, another favorite and hometown hero (B R O O K L Y N!), Jay-Z. I even flew back to Brooklyn for Jay-Z’s 4:44 concert in hopes that she would make an appearance.

So when the dates for her upcoming On the Run II tour with Jay-Z were announced last week, I didn’t think twice about buying tickets. That is, until it was time to pay for them.

Suddenly, my financial goals like paying down debt and saving for a house came to mind and gave me pause. How would I ever reach my goals if I constantly allowed myself to be derailed by distractions?

I won’t. I won’t ever release debt or own my own home if I don’t stay focused on my goals. But the truth is, I’m having a lot of trouble focusing on my goals right now and I could use some help.

Thankfully, there’s The Finance Bar. Here, fellow Charlottean, Marsha, shares four tips to keep us focused on our money goals:


Hi there. Opportunities to open our wallets are surrounding us. Buy this, vacation here, and try this new gadget.

We understand just how hard it is to find discipline to stay committed when the brunch invitations are still coming and social media has your mind swimming with a million things that your money can be spent on.  It’s easy to lose focus, heck it’s hard to get focused in the first place.

Pat yourself on the back:

Be proud of the progress you’ve made to date. There is no better way to boost your financial confidence and motivate you to keep going than by seeing how far you have already come. Check your statements and track your progress to date. Did you minimize discretionary spending in January and March? Took a pair of heels to get repaired instead of buying a new pair? Ate out less and cooked at home last week? Saved more than your budget called for last month? Celebrate your accomplishments and let them inspire you to keep the momentum going. I’m rooting for you!

Surround yourself with reminders:

Set a reminder on your cell phone to pop up a calendar invite once a week. You can personalize the message to read: “Are you on task this week with your finance goals?” “What progress have you made this week?” “Check your budget.” Another great idea is to place post-it notes in your car and your bathroom window. Be your own accountability partner.

Set a spending limit:

This is extremely critical. Cash register CHA-CHINGS add up very quickly. You will overspend without a set limit, so think about this and commit to a number before you head out the door to the mall, restaurant, grocery store or home improvement store. I even recommend setting a monthly limit for items that you may want to do more than once in a month.


Say it with me now, ready? Noooooo, try it again, noooooo. This can also be swapped out for, “I can’t this week, I’m already committed to something, I’m over my budget for that.” or any phrase that will save you from overspending or distract you from your goals. Let’s take our brunch example. If you have a monthly spending limit of $50 for brunches in May stick to that. Discipline is the key to long term financial success.

How do you plan to stay committed to your money goals?

Ready, Set, Weekend

It’s finally Friday! If you ask me, it should have been Friday three days ago. This may have seemed like the slowest week ever, but thankfully, there was still plenty to smile about.

Among them, Bean achieved another award at school. As of yesterday, he has read a total of 205 books in just 49 school days, more than double the original goal in less than half the time his classmates had. I am incredibly proud of him and tickled that he is already talking about reading 300 books. He asked for a chocolate chip cookie as a reward. Not sure where to find one worthy of the occasion in our neighborhood, I decided to stop by a store that had caught my eye a few times: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

I had never heard of the chain before, but based on the display of decadent chocolates, I’ve decided that it is in my best interests to get to know them better.

Tonight, the celebrations continue with a family video game night. I’m devoting the rest of the weekend to preparing for my sister and brother-in-laws’ week and a half long visit. If I’m honest, I’m not exactly thrilled about hosting guests for that long, but those two are so special to me and Bean. I will always be grateful to them for taking care of Bean, especially while I was in grad school and working full-time. So if it means sitting back while they take care of us for a week and a half, I most gladly will.

What are your weekend plans? Fill me in below or using #ReadySetCLT across social media! Got a suggestion? Send them to me on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

Ready, Set, Date Night: Mindfull Escapes + Mi Pueblo Mexican Grill


Last Friday, while Bean was at a friends house for an evening play date, Avon and I decided to have date of our own. We found a deal on Groupon for escape room game for two at MindFull Escapes in Matthews. If you don’t know, an escape room is a physical adventure game where players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objective(s) and unveil the secret plot hidden within the room, all within a set time limit. I had never done an escape room, and ordinarily wouldn’t be interested in that kind of game, but I was excited to try a new activity at the edge of my comfort zone. I figured at best, we would have something to brag about and at worst, we would break up due to irreconcilable problem solving skills.

At Mindfull Escapes, we were greeted by a friendly employee, who briefed us on the game room we selected (Hard Ards Shed), shared general instructions from the facility and answered our questions before ushering us into the game room. The game room wasn’t as scary or intimidating as I imagined it would be (though, by the looks of some of the props, they tried). Inside the room, she pointed to a small camera and let us know that she could see and hear us. If we needed anything, from a hint to serious help, we were to shout at any time. Once the game started, we could leave the room at any time, but re-entry was not permitted. Thankfully, we had already used the bathroom.

We weren’t allowed to photograph or record the game room and to preserve the experience for future players, I won’t even attempt to describe it. But I will say that in spite of being fairly smart people and working well as a team, we were unable to escape the room in under an hour. We were able to solve quite a bit of the puzzles and riddles on our own, but needed hints to help us a long. When the hour was over and the answers were revealed, we realized that we did a lot of unnecessary over-analyzing and missed clues hiding in plain sight. We had a good laugh at ourselves, especially when the Mindfull Escapes employee shared her experience of us through the camera. I wish I could have seen a recording of us.

Overall, we had a great time and plan to visit Mindfull Escapes for another game in the near future.

We had some time before we were due to pick Bean up and decided to grab dinner. Mi Pueblo had been highly recommended by a friend. After eating there, I understand why.

The restaurant was surprisingly empty for a Friday night, but I was grateful for the uninterrupted views of the Spanish style decor and the prompt and attentive service. Though, based on my experience of the staff, I suspect that we would have received the same level of service whether there were 100 other patrons dining alongside us that night.

I ordered the Shrimp Chimichanga and Avon had the Pollo Fundido. The portions were generous and even though I was starving, I knew I would have to take some food home.

Shrimp Chimichanga (grilled shrimp with onions and bell peppers wrapped in a 12-in. tortilla topped with cheese dip, served with Mexican rice and refried beans)
Pollo Fundido (grilled chicken breast topped with grilled onions, tomatoes and bell peppers, over a bed of Mexican rice, topped with melted cheese)

When the bill arrived, we were astonished. After some quick calculations, we realized that our date night cost under $60! A fun activity and a delicious meal on the cheap in two hours? This date night gets two thumbs up from me!

Have you been to Mindfull Escapes or Mi Pueblo before or are you planning to go? Where are your favorite places to go on a date in Charlotte? Let me know below!


How to Turn Your Day Around Using These Three Simple and Easy Steps

Image via Pexels

I almost had the worst day.

I had been looking forward to last weekends’ busy Saturday for weeks. I planned to start the day with a SocaFit workout, then attend a blogger event, and finally, join a friend on her search for a wedding dress. I was especially excited about the dance class and the blogger meetup; not only would I finally be able to do both after months of scheduling conflicts, but by the end of the day, I would be closer to achieving two of my biggest goals this year.

On Friday, my friend decided to postpone the shopping trip after her daughter got sick. That’s okay, I thought. I’ll have more time to network at the blogger meetup. I reached out to the organizer to reconfirm the details and was told that the event had been canceled. That’s okay, I thought, ignoring my rising frustration. I can still network from home.

On Saturday, I was the first to arrive at SocaFit. The dark storefront looked out of place in the busy strip mall. Confused, I called a friend. “There’s no class today,” she said matter-of-factly. “Didn’t you check your email this morning?”

Great, I thought, rolling my eyes with undeniable frustration. I crossed the parking lot and headed toward the grocery store, eager to salvage the morning by crossing another item off of my to do list. “Sorry,” the store manager said. “The butcher is on a break for the next 30 minutes.”

I drove to the nearest gas station. “Sorry,” the attendant said. “We’re out of motor oil.”

Defeated, I headed back home. There, I did three things, which helped to shift my attitude and made my day more productive than I could have imagined:

Breathe // I laid in bed and stared blankly at the ceiling while my negative self-talk threatened to consume me. Then, I took a deep breath. Almost instantly, I felt calm. When we fixate on past or future events or find ourselves distracted by mental chatter, taking a deep breath produces a calming effect and help us focus on the present moment.

Recommit to accomplishing the goal // After taking a moment to clear my mind, I realized that behind my frustration, was disappointment that I didn’t get to work on my fitness and blogging goals like I had planned. Clarity allowed me to acknowledge that only one part of the plan had gone awry and that I still had the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted. Especially with Avon and Bean gone for the day. I’m going to get some exercise and I’m going to work on my blog today, I declared to myself. Recommitting to accomplishing my goal gave me the boost of energy I needed to get out of bed and get back to work.

Choose a different attitude // I was grateful that I had the rest of the day – and the entire apartment – to myself. Shifting my defeated attitude to one of gratitude also made room for joy, openness and urgency (actually, urgency was inspired by remembering that Avon and Bean would be home eventually). Tapping into joy, I turned on some music and moved to the next item on my to do list: cleaning. Less than an hour later, I had cleaned my entire bedroom and worked up quite a sweat. While cleaning, I brainstormed topics for the blog (including this one!). And you thought you weren’t going to get anything today, I thought smugly. Refreshed, I treated myself to a mani-pedi before going to the grocery store and still made it home to start dinner before Avon and Bean returned. Being open allowed me the flexibility to achieve greater results, even though how I achieved them looked a lot different than I thought they would, and in record time, thanks to my sense of urgency.

I ended Saturday night feeling proud of myself. To think, I had almost thrown the whole day away. Try these simple and easy steps the next time you’re having a bad day and let me know how your days turns around!

Ready, Set, Weekend

I thought the groundhog was mistaken when he predicted six more weeks of winter last month and we were treated to record highs here in Charlotte. But as it turns out, he was right after all. While I was grateful to have missed the Nor’easter that hit my friends and family back in New York this week, I’m not thrilled at all about having to pull out my heavy coat again. Thankfully, signs that spring is near are all across the city.

This week, I jumped headfirst into getting my health goals back on track and the results have been immediate. As of this morning, I’m down three pounds! What’s working? Preparing meals at home, increasing my daily water intake and dancing!

Tonight, Avon and I have a date at Mindfull Escapes, an escape room in Matthews. It’s a first for both of us and based on feedback from other couples, we’re in for a great time. After that, I’m hoping that we’ll have enough time for dinner at Me Pueblo, another first for us, before we pick Bean up from his play date. On Saturday, Avon has some fun activities to do with Bean in mind while I attend a blogger event and on Sunday, we’re going to a christening, followed by brunch. I’ve wanted to eat at Kid Cashew since I started following them on Instagram. Word is that kids eat for free!

What are your weekend plans? Fill me in below or using #ReadySetCLT across social media! Got a suggestion? Send them to me on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!