Monday, August 21, 2017

Date Night Ready

Outfit: Top [not online] | White Jeans | Sandals 

I think white jeans are my favorite way to be causal and dressed up at the same time.  In Charlotte though it's just too hot some days to wear jeans at all so I will definitely be breaking rules so I can get some more wear out of these jeans after labor day when I can wear pants again!

This outfit to me just screams date night.  Or maybe it's me saying Mike I think we should have a date night and I'll wear this to feel cute and pretty! This top is off the shoulder and actually a little bit of a high low crop feel.  These jeans fit so perfectly but #shortlegproblems I have to cuff them so they are not dragging under my heels.

We are still trying to save for nice furniture items and decor in our apartment so date nights lately have been on a budget.  My favorite way to save money but still feel like we have the opportunity to go out is to just do drinks and appetizers! Apps are often overlooked but really they are my favorite foods on the menu sometimes.  We still save money, get to share and sample a few options, and have a wonderful date night in the process!

What are your favorite ways to have a date night on a budget?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Building a Business Wardrobe [on a budget]

One personal goal I have for this school year is actually with my wardrobe.  I want to really focus my spending on purchasing quality timeless items that can be worn many different ways.  I also want to wear nice clothes that tell people "I am a professional" and "I care" Working in a school is a little interesting because the work wear requirements are more business casual and some teachers really bend the rules and don't even consider that business part of the phrase!  It frustrates me to no end because I am constantly trying to advocate for my job, my role, and fighting against the system - we can't do that if we don't look at ourselves first and start to take our profession in the schools seriously.
I truly believe that what you wear can make incredible statements.  I also am a huge advocate for the saying when you look good you feel good. I like putting time and effort into my outfits in the morning - it sets me up to have a successful day.  A caveat to clothes and wearing quality items is the cost.  My budget is pretty tight [thanks to student loans & being a school employee] But when I started researching ideas for building a classic business wardrobe I couldn't find any information on how to do it with little to no money to spend on tons of new clothes! So I thought of some tips and tricks that I have been taking into practice as I get my wardrobe ready for another school year.

Take Inventory: Literally take all of your clothes out of your closet! You will be surprised at what you find in there.  Take note of the items that you have already.  This would also be a good time to clean out anything that doesn't fit correctly, you absolutely hate, or is just so worn out.

Get Ideas: My favorite place to get outfit ideas is on Pinterest.  I go on with the mindset of getting an idea then go back to my closet to try to make an outfit with what I have. Or I had a friend tell me once that if she wants to wear a certain item but is struggling with how she will search on Pinterest "purple pencil skirt outfit" and see what comes up! Comparison and getting suckered in to the "I want/ I need" this exact item serves no positive purpose, not for your wellness or your budget.

Buy the Basics: Now if after you have taken inventory, you have brainstormed with the clothes that you already have and you find you are lacking specific basic items that are crucial to building outfits, now is the time to go shopping.  Set a budget. Go shopping with those specific needs in mind.

Mix and Match: This one is a hard one for me.  I am such an outfit shopper.  Or even an event shopper.  You know you buy that dress for that one bridal shower and then can't wear it again because it was for that event.  Or I even create an outfit out of many items I have, then fall in love with it, and proceed to wear that set of items the exact same way each time.  I then feel like I wear the same thing over and over so I have nothing to wear!   But it is so important to mix and match. Switch it up.  Try something new.  Give yourself a challenge to not wear something the same way twice and see what happens.

Remember the Rule of Threes: I just learned this rule and it has made all the difference. Basically when you think you have an outfit made ie: shirt & pants for the most basic of examples; the rule states; an outfit is never truly complete until a third item is added. For that third item think; jacket, statement accessory, scarf, vest, etc.  Once I started putting this into practice [when I remember] I truly do feel more complete and satisfied with my outfit I made.  It just pulls everything together so nicely!

Have Fun: Fashion is fun! Let it be that way.  No one is perfect all the time.  Take some risks.  Remember how amazing it was to play dress up when you were little? Don't lose that joy in your current closet just because you are on a budget.

What are some ways you build a budget friendly wardrobe? 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Making Fitness a Priority

Location: South End, Charlotte, NC

Outfit: Yoga Capri | Tank Top | Shoes

This summer has definitely been the summer of self- care for me.  Being off of my real full time job has given me the time I need to focus on the things that make me happy.  Despite how busy I have been I have made it a priority to put health and fitness at the top of my list.  It has been glorious.  Working out daily is like hitting the reset button.  Whether I am overwhelmed and tired or just not feeling it a workout can completely flip my mood, give me a burst of energy, and make all my worries go away.

Today is my first workday of the new school year so I am having to make some shifts in my schedule. I won't be able just to walk down to the gym during the middle of the day anymore.  While, I know people have full time jobs all year long, working in the school kind of gives you two completely different lifestyles that you become accustomed to really quick.  Adjusting back to the all day work grind is just that, an adjustment.

My promise to myself is to continue to fuel my body with whole, healthy foods, and to workout every day. Whether it be walking the dog in the morning, going to a fun class with friends, a nice run on the trail by my apartment, or doing one of my TIU videos in the gym.  Every single day my body needs to move, stretch, and push itself.  Self - care becomes more of a necessity during the school year due to the nature of my job.  Health and fitness is one way I can treat my body with love and kindness.

This year I have really learned how my body craves a good workout.  I have also learned to let go of the expectations that a workout has to be a full blown intense sweat session every day.  The latter has made all the difference.  Listening to my body and doing something daily has helped me reach so many goals.  Even through a tough school year, I promise to treat my body right and keep fitness my priority, I know that with this everything else will fall into place.

What are some ways you make fitness a priority?

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Summer of the Romper

Outfit: Sandals | Romper [this one is no longer available online but I linked the whole romper page so you can search for your own fun romper!]

I have officially declared this summer, the summer of the romper.  I don't know what it is about rompers but I seem to have only purchased them for all of my fun summer events this season.  They are so comfortable and truly versatile.  The only problem is that I won't be able to wear them to work. I guess thats why I have embraced rompers and the summer together.

This romper is absolutely adorable.  I love the detail on the back that really dresses it up.  The material is a nice chiffon that can be worn with sandals like I have done here, or really dressed up for evenings with some fun heels.

Mike and I have been having so much fun exploring our area.  We are literally walking distance to so many fun restaurants, breweries, and fun spots.  I can't wait to share some of my new south end favorites with all of you! Summer has brought about so many new opportunities and adventures.  I love looking cute but feeling super comfy all at the same time and that's what rompers provide for me!

What has been your go to summer outfit this season?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer Goals Check In

Location: Outer Banks, North Carolina

One week from now I head back to work to start setting up my office as well as prepping for the school year to begin. This summer has been absolutely wonderful for me.  I wrote a post before summer began about all the things that I wanted to do this season.  A bucket list of sorts; you can read it all here.

Every once and a while I make a list of goals that I want to accomplish.  Typically around new years when everyone reflects on what the year brought and the changes they can make for a better year ahead.  I suppose this summer was my new year.  Now that it is coming to an end I have looked back at my list, while I am pleased at all that I have done I had an aha moment.

While I was looking at all that I wanted to see and experience this summer I realized some things I wanted to do at the beginning of summer were simply forgotten about. I also realized that life happens.  Sometimes we make the best plans, set goals, and then they don't happen.  Instead of focusing on what hasn't happened life is about practicing gratitude for what actually happens.

So instead of looking back at my list, going through it and checking off what I did and didn't do.  My check in with myself is answering one simple question.  Am I relaxed and rejuvenated in spending my summer full of fun events and taking care of myself? My answer is most definitely; yes.

This last week will be spent loving life and summertime for a little while longer.

How has your summer been?  What do your goals teach you about gratitude? 

Monday, August 7, 2017

24 Hours of Booty

Location: Booty Loop | Charlotte, NC

Outfit: CLT Hat | Tank Top | Shorts 

Recently, my dad did something so impressive.  He cycled for 100 miles in a 24 hour time frame after raising money to fight cancer.  With my late Aunt Cathy at the forefront of his mind, who lost her life way too soon to this awful disease, my dad set a goal and exceeded it!

Every year, in Charlotte, the Booty Race brings bikers from all over together to ride for 24 hours straight and raise money for the 24 Foundation, which partners with LIVESTRONG.  Now, some of you may be wondering why this is affectionately called the 24 hours of booty.  Well, the almost 3 mile loop in the heart of Charlotte is called the booty loop.  Named for it's hilly course and the incredible amount of bikers and joggers you can find on it any day working for dat booty!

Mom, Mike, and I went to the start of the race to cheer on dad.  The whole event is incredible.  Some riders set up camp and literally stay the night.  Everyone signs up with a team and your team has a rider on the course at all times. The neighborhood surrounding the loop is wonderfully supportive, they host fundraising parties in their front yards to cheer on the riders.  During the event there is food provided for the riders, complete with a midnight pizza party! We stayed for a delicious dinner - burgers and grilled veggies - while dad took his first fuel break!

Y'all, I can't even begin to describe how proud of my dad I am for doing this race.  He is the sweetest person I know.  Once he puts his mind to something he accomplishes it, 100 miles and over $800 of it! Total the event this year in Charlotte raised over 1.7 million to go toward cancer research and continuing to fight for a cure.  Together we can make a huge impact and definitely kick cancer in the booty! Thank you to all who donate and work hard against this disease each and every day.

Tell me about your experiences with awesome fundraising events! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Currently | August

Location: South End, Charlotte, NC

Happy August sweet friends,

August means back to school soon I have about 2 more weeks until my first workday.   After that it will definitely be back to the grind and routines.  I have a lot of goals for this school year though that I am excited to make happen.  Plus, the kiddos always make my job worth it!  Today, I am linking up with Anne and Shea to share a little more about what I am currently up to.

snacking (on): Lately because I have been all over the place with swim lessons my snacks have been on the go, I love bringing along things like RXbars for a protein fueled delicious snack with all clean healthy ingredients. 

anticipating: The school year.  There is always so much going on the first month of school.  The hustle and bustle is something I thrive off of but I also want to find a good healthy balance this year with school and a personal life.  No better way to start than jumping right in! 

borrowing: Business wardrobe ideas from lots of fun bloggers I found on pinterest.  We just moved and I did a huge purge of everything.  In that purge I took a good look at my closet and realized I have a lot of holes needing to be filled. Step one get ideas for versatile business / work appropriate pieces before I head out shopping! 

admiring: My new neighborhood of Charlotte and our view [pictured above]  Although they are building another apartment right next door so eventually my city view will be blocked.  I am soaking it all in while I can.

purchasing: Crossing my fingers that soon we will be purchasing a couch for the living room.  I am saving up and making lists of all the home items that are still needed to truly make this apartment organized and homey.  I am doing a good job of really being smart about my spending, doing my research first, instead of impulse buying something I'll will inevitably get rid of once I spring clean.

What are you currently up to?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Making the Most of Summertime

Outfit: Romper | Shoes [Similar]

I have to admit, typically I am a fall obsessed girl. Not this year, though.  I have probably been craving summer since probably February.  Now, that I can see my school year start date on the calendar so soon I don't want it to end!

This summer has been so necessary for me personally, it has also been a lot of fun.  There has been a lot of transition for me with moving to a new apartment, and learning a lot of little life lessons that Jesus and I have been working on. This summer I have also decided to set the to do list aside for what is really important.  I want my actions to reflect my words.  If I am going to be true to that it means calling my loved ones, setting up friend dates, exploring my new neighborhood, being outside in the sunshine, and truly celebrating this life.

Summer has been my opportunity to reflect on what is important and incorporate that in my life.  With a few more weeks of summer I am determined to make the most of it.  I also want to bring a little bit of my summertime self with me to my school year.  The to - do list will always be there but the experiences, the daylight late at night, the outdoor yoga, the flowers, those things end up fading with winter.  Not this year.

Summer you are slowly becoming my new favorite because of all the life changing lessons you have taught me. You have brought me closer to friends.  You have given me sun kissed skin and lighter hair.  You have given me lots of much needed rest.  You have warmed my heart and soul.  You have taught me to explore, to cherish life, and to slow down.

Cheers to celebrating summer and making the most of it.

How are you celebrating summertime? 

P.S.  If you love my romper as much as I do; check out Ivy & Leo.  You can use the code AMANDA10 for 10% off your purchases, they are also having a crazy summer sale right now - 30% off all summer items to make room for their fall line!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Topgolf | Charlotte

Location: Topgolf Charlotte 

Outfit: Tank: Target [Similar] | Jean Shorts: Abercrombie & Fitch | Sneakers: Target 

Details: 5$ lifetime membership [needed for every person], $25 - $45 per hour depending on the time you go, + cost of food and drinks.

Topgolf just opened up in Charlotte at the beginning of June. It has been a huge hit so far.  A friend who lives over by the location said every time she drives by there is a line out the door! For Fathers Day I told my dad I would treat him to a day at Topgolf this summer.  He decided to use his gift on my Mom's birthday this past Sunday, so it was like a double gift from me for both my parents.

We were prepared to wait when we got there so we put our names on the list and wandered around to check out the place.  For those of you not familiar with Topgolf the best way I can describe it is a driving range with the idea of bowling.  Your balls have trackers so you can play various types of games and you get points if you hit your ball in one of the targets by the flags.  For those super serious golfers beware if you are simply playing the "topgolf game" you could have an amazing shot but not get it in the target and not score any points at all!

We decided to get some food and drinks while we were waiting.  There are 3 levels here all with various seating and bar areas you can hang out at.  There are also lots of fun games around like pool and table shuffleboard to play while you wait.

The music was very loud in the whole place.  Be prepared for a "bar scene" vibe as a result.  This is not your quiet, serious, country club driving range at all.  I thought it made it very unique, but even our server wanted to lower the music because she couldn't hear us!

The overall game once we finally got to our corral was so much fun!  You chose your club and then wave it over the board so your ball comes out to the tee.  Then you try to hit the ball to one of the targets! I love going to the driving range; although I have only been a handful of times, this was exiting to actually get points and see where your ball landed right away.  If you make it in the targets your screen shows where the ball landed, the distance you shot it, and gives you points for that.

I had been saving up for this day for a while because as you can see there are a lot of little costs that do add up quick.  Everyone needs the lifetime membership card; this covers your "club" rentals and keeps track of your score.  You can also load money on your membership before you even go which can pay for the corral rentals. If you are going with a group of friends you can split everything evenly on the computer very easily though to keep costs down.  Be prepared to drop quite a bit of money - drink prices were high, the food was delicious but expect about 10 dollars per item.

We all had such a blast.  I ended up beating everyone but my dad in the second game! Maybe I'll start to pick up golf more regularly now. I would go again but I think I might wait until the novelty wears off a little bit and my bank account bounces back.  We had to wait for a long time [2 hours] and spending so much money doesn't exactly pass for living well on a budget in my book.  A bucket of balls at the driving range is a whole lot cheaper and still a ton of fun to do - you can even go out for drinks after to celebrate.  All in all it was a great experience and I am so glad they are here in Charlotte!

Do you have a Topgolf in your area? Or have you been to the one in Charlotte? What do you think?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Home Decor + Patience & Self Control

Anyone else ever look on Pinterest or browse through home decor and organization ideas then just magically your house looks like that overnight? Yeah, me neither.  Wouldn't that be wonderful - if you pin something it just appears without you actually having to pay for it haha. This one click wonder of a world full of instant gratification at your fingertips makes it feel like that could be your reality.  We can like a picture on instagram and get all the shopping details for it sent to an app that you can shop directly from.  So useful and dangerous all at the same time, because we actually have to make a purchase.

Our brains are tricked into thinking that I want it and want it now is the only way to go. Credit cards hold no consequences in the moment it seems.  If our wants, which feel like needs, are not fufilled in a single moment then it eats at us and messes with our self worth.

On my editorial calendar for this month I wanted to show you all decor ideas and updates for this apartment.  That's definitely not the case friends and you know what; it's totally okay.  I am so happy with this apartment.  Yes, we still have a long way to go.  Organization puzzles to solve, some big purchases to make, and a couch would be nice so I am not hanging out in my living room on a beach chair anymore.

This apartment, for me, is different than all of my other moves I have made in the past.  With those places I wanted it to be perfectly decorated within a week of move in.  I used a lot of decor items that I have collected throughout the years.  In this place though looking at them all together it just feels so college and not cohesive at all.

So making this apartment a true home is teaching me about faith.  Specifically the fruits of the spirit: Patience and Self Control. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23 

Truly good things don't happen over night.  I may have to sit on a beach chair for now.  Some items might not have perfectly organized homes yet.  My walls may be a little bit bare.  My feet might be cold on the bare floor in the bathroom.  But when I practice patience and a little bit of self control with my spending - I will be able to save up for the things that I dream will be in this space.  

Just like with our faith.  We might not get answers from prayers right away.  When we practice patience and self control - we trust that following Jesus is going to be so so worth it in the end.  

So little by little, I will continue to do the work in my apartment and in my life to stay true to this path that is laid before me.  

How is your every day life teaching you faith lessons today?


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Happy Things

In light of Monday's post I wanted to create a fun list of all things that make me happy.  We are all so beautiful and so unique.  Everyone was created for a different purpose; that is to live your own best life. Not anyone else's.

So perfection stemming from comparison doesn't get us to the place of happiness or living well.  I find that when I am in a place of want want want I need to shift my mindset and think about what I have, what I love, and what truly makes me happy. So here it is in no particular order; my happy list:

Puppy tail wags and sloppy kisses

Savoring a delicious meal that you dream about for days after

Completing a tough workout and feeling so strong after


Journaling in the early mornings

Long walks with friends [and Finn]

Popcorn and M&M's at the movies

A gorgeous sunset

Running a race

Standing in front of a vast view [mountains or beach] that creates wonder and awe and that feeling of being small

Feeling creative and inspired

An outfit, make up, and hair that makes you feel like you can take on the world

Completing a tough project

Wine & Cheese

The look on a child's face when they learn something new and do it all by themselves

Lovely conversations with girlfriends

Traveling to a new place and truly getting to explore

Learning about people; their stories, their culture, their daily life

Creating something delicious in the kitchen while drinking wine and chatting about life with my man

Being engrossed in a really good book

Getting something at a really good price [clothes, furniture, fun items] I love a deal!

A beautiful yoga practice

Green plants making living spaces warm, homey, and beautiful

Laughing until you cry

I could probably sit here all day and brainstorm more and more happy things.  Once you start thinking of one more pop in your head - it's a really great practice to lift your spirits and help you realize living your best life means doing more of what makes you happy. I intend to incorporate more of my list above into my daily routine to continue to strive for health and happiness!

What are some things that make you happy?

Monday, July 17, 2017

On Striving for Perfection

Today we are getting a little more raw and a lot more real here on Sweet Surrender.  I have been wrestling with the concept of perfection for a little while and wanted to share my journey and thoughts through this process. Comparison is a topic that is brought up in the blog world quite frequently and I wrote a post about that here. Perfection or wanting perfection is sometimes stemmed from comparison but in my case today it is coming from a variety of places.

I am a to- do list maker, people pleaser, rule follower, and strive for recognition that I am doing the right thing. Lately, striving to get it all done, to have my apartment be beautiful and pinterest worthy only a week after we moved in, to have the right clothes, hair, & make up, and to make all those around me happy, has had the opposite effect.  Reaching for perfection has made me miserable. It's exhausting.  It's also not worth it at all. In trying to do all the things I was actually losing myself, who I was, and what truly makes me happy.

Perfection isn't an attainable thing at all.  We all fall short.  We all make mistakes.  We all live very different lives and that's okay.  I am learning to accept myself.  I am learning to thrive in the imperfections.  Most of all God's grace is free flowing. If he can forgive me through it all, why can't I learn to forgive myself and give myself permission to slow down?

My apartment will take time to get organized and saving for a couch won't happen overnight.  Sometimes others aren't going to be thrilled at the decisions I make for myself and that's okay.  My wardrobe will take time to build. I have so much to be grateful for right now.  Wanting perfection will only bring misery.  Practicing gratitude brings joy.

Instead of striving for perfection I have created a new goal: strive for health and happiness.  When I am making healthy choices and decision that bring me joy I am my best self. We only get one life to live and I don't want to waste mine guilt tripping myself and creating unnecessary anxiety because perfection simply couldn't be reached.  I want to spend the time I have living my best life.

Have you had to shift your mindset when it comes to perfection? How has that changed your life for the better? 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Paisley Kimono

Location: Charlotte, NC

Outfit Details: Kimono [Ivy & Leo] | Jean Shorts [Abercrombie: old] | Sandals [Jack Rogers]

It is hot in Charlotte during the summer.  We get humidity that is unreal.  Most days in the summer I am in a swim suit, old habits die hard.  Fun fact: I swam competitively from the age of 5 through college! When I do have go somewhere that is not a pool I like to feel a little put together without feeling like all my clothes are sticking to me in this crazy heat.

A kimono is a perfect way to dress up an outfit of just a tank and jean shorts.  I love how this one flows, has a beautiful print, and some fun tassels! Putting on this kimono just makes me feel like I am ready to go to an outdoor concert or have a fun adventure.  It really pulls the whole outfit together.

We have officially moved to our new place. Feeling settled and organized will probably take me a while, especially since we are on the hunt for a new couch. Even without having a couch and boxes all over the place driving me crazy; I am having so much fun exploring this neighborhood in Charlotte. Be on the lookout soon for some of the places we explore around here!

What is your favorite summery outfit go-to? 
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