Monday, September 23, 2013

the birthday of all birthdays. 25.

tonight is monday night and i'm sitting here watching football, drinking wine, and reflecting on what happened last thursday. last thursday was monumental. last thursday i turned a quarter of a century.
funny thing is if you know me personally you already knew this. mainly because I start reminding people at least 7 months in advance. the previous 5 months i had spent post celebrating from the previous one so that only makes sense.

i kicked off my birthday week with a concert of someone i’ve listened to for years, but never got the chance to go see. j cole. this talented guy is actually from north carolina. fayetteville to be exact. i started listening to him back in college when his mainstream songs started getting popular on the radio  - songs like ‘work out’ and ‘in the morning.’ guys in college then downloaded the album and i got really into the other songs that weren't so publicized on ‘cole world: the sideline story.’ he played quite a few of them at the show - some i knew just about all the lyrics. white girl can rap. 

lee is probably the equivalent fan of j cole as i am to taylor swift and we alllllllllll know that’s a true love. he came to charlotte on tuesday, september 17th so we had to go. {ps. we also go to atlanta in two weeks to sit front row AND MEET HIM. blog to follow.}

{lee; me before the j cole show}

{awesome performance}

my actual birthday is september 19th which was a thursday this year. i went home that morning and walked into my bedroom which had been transformed in this fairytale surprise below by my roommate, katie. filled with helium balloons tied with pictures of us from years past, balloons all over the floor, and banners, she really made that surprise very special. i’m so thankful for that moment.


after that, i went to work and was greeted by a shiz ton of bojangles and a message from my girl, taylor. lee delivered flowers to my work. beautiful. one of my best friends, danielle, also delivered flowers to my work. enough said. even between the busy workday, i still felt very special. 


{feeling 25.}

{lee's flowers}

{danielle's flowers}
around 2:30pm i left the office and went shopping as every girl should do on a day like that. earlier in the week lee had told me he wanted to take me somewhere special, but wouldn’t tell me where. this was perfect for me – someone who loves surprises and loves people who will take the time to plan them. i was so curious as to where he had chosen, because he’s such a sweet guy i knew it had to be somewhere that was of some importance to me. he picked me up around 7pm and drove down south boulevard and once he took the right turn onto east boulevard, i instantly knew what was in store. he pulled in to the drive of 300 east – one of my favorite places in charlotte.

  {dimly lit booth at 300 east}

this restaurant is an old 2 story house that has been transformed into more casual tables and a bar downstairs and more intimate seating in a dimly lit setting upstairs. ironically i sat in the same exact booth i went with my friend laura one year ago for my 24th birthday. it’s a special place to me now. the food is phenomenal. see below for yourself then plan a night out and go there – you’re welcome for the extra love, 300 east!

{bacon wrapped filet, potatoes, zucchini & squash}

later that night, all i wanted to do was go to a chill bar and have some beers considering we both had to work in the morning. we did just that and caught the late half of the state/clemson game. state took a hard hit for a bs call which i believe ultimately cost them the game. yes, i'm a tarheel but if they're not playing i have no problem cheering for other acc teams. 

it was exactly what i wanted to do on my 25th birthday with my favorite guy.

{after dinner drinks}

however, i knew celebrations weren't over just yet. this past saturday i had some of my favorite people come out to celebrate with me. we started at my place to pregame and i finally had my girls all in one place {with the exception of a few}.

{allyson; me}

{taylor; me}

the weather decided to be super rude to all of us that night and created a mini monsoon. i decided to get smart & to get everyone plastic grocery bags to put over their head. call me crazy, & think i’m nuts if you want; but it worked. it doesn’t really go with your outfit though, i later figured out.

{me; allyson}

  after heading uptown and dodging the raindrops (or lack thereof), we ended up at blackfinn charlotte in the epicenter - which was ridiculously packed; aka i wouldn’t recommend going there on a weekend night unless you’d rather get suffocated, stand shoulder to shoulder with people you don’t know and wait in line for an hour and twenty two minutes for a drink. it’s a cool atmopshere, but my suggestion would be to visit midweek evenings for dinner instead. so after finding most of the crew, i wanted to then venture to somewhere else where i could, i don’t know....breathe. before i left black finn though, i got to see one of my best girls, danielle, and her sister who was celebrating her bachelorette for her wedding on october 12th.

{danielle; erica; me}

{morgan the bachelorette; me}

 i decided i needed some piano bar into my life so we went to one of the coolest places in charlotte: howl at the moon. this bar plays all songs from all genres and they even take requests! they jammed it out and we rocked on all night long. 

disclaimer: you can also dance on the bar here and it may not always be graceful. so hello 25th birthday. hello last age this will probably be acceptable. 

i’ll let the pictures tell the rest.

{sweetest girls}

{sweetest boyfriend}

{part of the sweetest birthday crew}

saying thank you to the people who helped me celebrate is a complete understatement to all those who helped make this special birthday the best birthday to date thus far. i’m so excited to see what my 25th year has for me.



twitter: @agcrute

Friday, September 13, 2013

country, cocktails, and mustaches.

back in 5th grade, the teacher asked me what i wanted to be when i grew up and without any hesitation i wrote “country music singer.” little did i know at the time that this kind of career meant that you actually have to have some musical capability in your voice and not sound at all like a dying pigeon. which is what i still sound like.
so i traded that dream in for a couple of country concerts yelling the song lyrics at the top of my lungs with a beer in my hand and some boots. i’ve went to a few a lot of country shows this summer and this past week, lee got us tickets to see billy currington! i had never been to a show in a smaller venue with someone that well known before and i loved it. it’s intimate and the crowd is pumped and you don’t have to use binoculars to see the performer.
{us at the show}
{billy currington}
we danced around and made up our own words and had a few beers and met friends to all of billy’s songs. he did a few covers which included ‘get lucky,’ ‘blurred lines,’ ‘family tradition,’ and finally ended with ‘good directions’ which is one of our favorites. i’d never seen billy before and glad i got to!
{full stage view}
fast forward to wednesday night - i got treated to a beautiful skyline view for dinner and drinks. lee and i went to the peculiar rabbit thanks to the lovely $40 for $20 groupon i snagged earlier last week. the peculiar rabbit is a really cool venue that’s 3 (or 4) stories high in plaza midwood, which is a suburb in charlotte outside of the city. i’d heard the food was phenomenal so we had to check it out. see below for yourself!
{view from the rooftop seating}
{bacon wrapped figs}
{calamari; chicken & waffles}
another favorite I saw on the menu was lobster mac & cheese. they were out of that on wednesday so that just means we have to go back sometime soon. the calamari was on point, but the most interesting item was the bacon wrapped figs. i don't even know what a fig is, but wrap it in bacon and i'm yours. 
and then, last night one of my girlfriends allyson and i went to this opening party of lyft – a taxi like service that’s new and upcoming to charlotte. apparently this service is 30-40% cheaper than taxi’s and drivers use their actual car, equipped with a pink mustache on the front, to take you home by you donating a specific amount of money. the app is available on your iPhone so check it out!
{pink mustache logo}
the kick off-party was located at this really cool brewery i’d never been to located in no-da (north davidson), another suburb outside of charlotte. no-da is known for a more eclectic and artsy feel if you’re looking for something different than the mainstream bars.

{heist brewery}
heist brewery was the host bar and provided beer and wine and a sample of their amazing food. the blueberry blonde was my absolute favorite and tasted something short of fruity pebbles. i will definitely be back for dinner at some point! also at the party was a crafting station where you could hand make your own mustache, as that’s the logo for lyft. the 5 year old in allyson and i were immediately drawn to that section, of course.

{crafting station}

{our creations}


{allyson & i}
happy friday & cheers to the weekend!

Monday, September 9, 2013

weekend recap.

life has been pretty busy lately. the past two weekends we’ve spent out of town at the beach or gallivanting around north carolina, city hopping. and this past weekend was no different. lee met my parents maybe about a month or so ago and my parents loved him so much they couldn’t wait to get us back.
charlotte traffic is no joke. it’s not funny. it has no punch line. it makes me want to pull my hair out. it makes me want to drop kick a kid. it makes me want to smash someone’s sandcastle. and by living here, i know it gets exponentially worse at 5pm on a workday. i squeezed out of the office early friday afternoon to swing by concord to meet lee before we made the 3 hour drive.
friday night lee and i spent sitting around our fire pit above with a couple glasses of wine, my parents, my brother andy, and a girl friend he had over named alli. it was like a triple date with a lot of my favorite people catching up on what’s been going on the past month. i know it’s early september and the north carolina temperatures are still 80’s/90’s during the day, but later that night after it cooled off, the hot tub nearby sounded really nice so we all jumped in to soak away that week’s work stress. note to self: invest in a hot tub at my own place in the future. but for now i’ll just enjoy my parents when i go home.

saturday, we woke up early to sausage and pancakes – one of my favorites. the weather outside was completely gorgeous and i knew i wanted to jump in the swimming pool and soak up some of the last summer sun. however, lee’s eyes lit up once my brother introduced him to our two massive four-wheelers and advised him there was a ton of land on the power line we could tear up.

i jumped on the back of the four-wheeler with lee since he had never driven one like that before and andy’s girl hopped on the back of the other one and off we went. miles down the road, a few different frog spotting instances, slung mud dried on my legs and most spider webs dodged later, we ended up saying hi to my cute granddaddy at his house down the road.

splashing in the cool pool & tossing football when we got back was definitely the icing on top of the cake.
later that evening after mom’s yummy spaghetti, we all piled in to the sequoia and headed to the DPAC – durham performing arts center about 30 minutes away in durham, nc.

if you’ve never heard of the blue man group, i would suggest you look them up. it’s a team of 3 guys performing different stunts with illusions and light. they made us take “no cell phone usage” oath, but me being the picture whore i am, i had to try to snap a few shots of the show. the ending act was these huge multicolored fabric balls that flew into the audience and we all semi played volleyball with them {aka we bounced them around each other}. it was definitely a cool show and one i’m glad i got to see.

afterward, lee and i met up with one of my close girlfriends since ninth grade – magan. charlotte doesn’t have that many country bars. ohhhhh but roxboro does. we headed out to bar 119 for a few drinks and dancing.
it’s always such a good time to visit back home to remind myself where i came from and to see people i’ve loved for a very long time.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

labor daze.

three day weekends are the best. the only thing better than three day weekends are 7 day weekends. those pretty much happen... i don’t know... never so i’ll take what i can get. long weekends are best spent relaxing, napping, eating and full of movies. you have nothing to do and all day to do it.
yeah this three day weekend was not so much all that. we all had monday off of work (hence labor day) so instead of being responsible adults and resting our ever-working bodies, we decided to act all 18 again and have a complete #yolo weekend running nonstop. planning this a few weeks ago seemed like a piece of cake for my 24 year old body, but this morning at work, i quickly figured out that was not the case. however, it was a blast and i’m glad we did it. read on to find out why.
friday at 5pm is a special time for me. i can take off my work hat and hang it up for a few days, let down my hair and let down my guard. i’m free to be me.
after swinging by and picking up this lovely lady below and a few other friends, we were en route to raleigh, nc. lee graduated from nc state university and is a pretty big fan. myself, being a tarheel fan (GO HEELS), really isn’t huge on the fact that we clash there but what are you gonna do? state was playing louisiana tech on saturday and we knew a few people going to the game aka tailgating so we figured we’d join.
saturday we opened a brew at 7:30am. idiots. i know we are. but when it’s game day, it’s game day and if you’re a football lover, you know there’s no abnormal time for tailgating. catching up with longtime friends, making new ones, a couple games of cornhole, a few beers, and me running to a car tire later, we were ready to get into the game.
{corey & i.}
{lee & i.}
{the whole gang.}
the stadium looked something like the red sea, if you will, with all the die-hard fans dressed head to toe in the school's dominant color. the football field was buzzing as this was the season opener. state crushed louisiana 40-14 by the end of the game, but we left a little after half time because it was 754  degrees and nc state had a substantial lead. i’ll pull for them, but i’ll admit i’m excited to be on the opposing side when state takes on my unc tarheels on november 2nd.
{carter-finley stadium.}
later that night, we decided to be dummies part two and go out for the evening. after a successful nap and shower, we all gained our second wind which lead to a little bit of fireball, shag dancing, and some n’sync serenading. seeing all the old friends in raleigh that i got to see was pretty special too.
{being serenaded.}
{taylor, me, audrey, hannah at c. grace in raleigh.}
sunday morning, we crawled out of bed (aka had to drag each other out because the score ended with fireball: 1 ; us: 0) at around 9am to make the two hour drive down to wilmington to freeman park. it’s a car accessible camping beach complete with miles of soft sand and porta-johns. i think i tend to mention the porta-johns to everyone because if you’re a girl, you get it. hanging out on the other side of the dunes isn’t fun – if you know what i mean.

{our home for the night.}
so we set up camp. yes i camped. aka slept on the beach. aka no air condition. aka sand crabs. aka 90 degrees. aka your hair will look terrible after drying in ocean salty water after dodging waves and swimming in it all day. however it’s nothing that a beer and a braid can’t fix.
we spent the evening laughing around a campfire and chomping down on some papa john’s pizza that freakin’ delivered to us on the sand. i found this fascinating. there were about 8 of us out there camping so we figured 5 pizzas should do the trick. it was a great trip/long weekend exploring north carolina with my pals, and even though, we got minimal sleep, i would definitely do it again.
..........except i would take out the one minor detail where we woke up on monday morning at 4:30am to a monsoon/lightning/hurricane combo that we failed to catch on the weather radar and we forgot the top of our tent so it was all see-through mesh and we got soaking wet and left at 5:30am to drive four hours back to charlotte. i’d take that little excerpt out. yeah definitely would. totally. 100%.