Birthday Weekend in Charlotte

Big things are happening over here. Though I haven’t previously mentioned ANY of this publicly on this blog, I’m going to get all the big news out of the way right now in one fell swoop:

1. I quit my job in May. I have become one of those people who “work from home.” More on this later.

2. Dan left HIS job in July.

3. I’m pregnant! We are expecting the arrival of our daughter (boy, THAT’S weird to type out) on December 6th, 2014.

4. As a result of all the above (and some other extraneous factors), Dan and I have moved from Chicago to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Too bad Dan and I got married over four years ago, or I could say that we hit the BINGO of life changes all in the span of one year. Needless to say, things are a little different in our lives, but as of this very moment, everything is wonderful, exciting and promising. It’s been an extremely stressful and harrowing year – probably the most trying of my life so far – but there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, so I’m determined to focus only on the positive.

All that being said, I spent my 30th birthday in North Carolina – it was our first weekend here after moving in, and Dan went all out in planning some spectacular outings. He is well-aware that I cherish all things autumn, so we had our own little fall-fest. I wish I had taken even MORE pictures than the ones below, but I’m a little rusty. I hadn’t picked up my camera in quite some time, so I was just glad to be back in the saddle.

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We started our weekend with a delicious lunch at a local BBQ place that I want to introduce to anyone who visits us immediately. Mac’s Speed Shop has the most delectable menu. We had a wide variety of BBQ meats, including their smoked wings (SMOKED WINGS!), but I can’t wait to go back and try some of their other offerings. We ate outside on their spacious patio and enjoyed the gorgeous weather (it’s the end of October and we are consistently getting sunny, 70-degree weather with a slight breeze. It’s phenomenal!).

On Saturday, we started our morning at the local Farmer’s Market, enjoying the live music, downtown ambiance and local shops (Dan especially loves the local hardware store). Though the produce is a bit “in between seasons,” we managed to walk away with some okra and a few other assorted treats.

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Later that afternoon, we headed to a neighboring town for a Bluegrass/Country music festival. We were pleasantly surprised when we discovered that there was an annual chili cook-off taking place on location as well! Unlike anything we have ever done in Chicago, we just waltzed in, and volunteers handed us ballots, plastic fireman hats (our bowls) and instructed us to eat as much chili as we could and vote on our three favorites. We gladly obliged, and tasted some of the MOST amazing dishes we’ve ever had. I wanted to ask 85% of the chili-makers for a recipe. We also hit up the donut food truck to round out our eating experience.

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The rest of the weekend, though equally amazing, unfortunately went undocumented. We hosted our own horror movie marathon to honor the Halloween season. On Sunday, Dan also made me the most amazing pumpkin pancakes with apple cinnamon marscapone right before taking me to the pumpkin patch. We spent Sunday drinking cider, carving pumpkins and watching The Bears (they actually won for once, a true birthday miracle!)

As far as 30th birthdays go, it was one for the books.

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