Nan and Byron’s Fall Menu Preview

Last night, some friends and I attended a fall menu preview at Nan and Byron’s. Nan and Byron’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Charlotte. This statement can be proven by the number of check-ins I have here courtesy of Yelp. Hey, I like what I like.

Some of my favorite appetizers from last night were the Crispy Oysters served with pineapple, shaved jalapenos, and a BBQ vinaigrette, the Porcini Mushroom Ravioli with lobster claw, herb ricotta, glazed peas, and truffles, and the Sushi Grade Tuna Tartare with crushed wasabi peas and a ginger aioli. The Braised Pork Belly served with fried green beans (oh my wow) and marinated grape tomatoes was also a highlight. We also ordered the Burrata Salad (white wine poached pears, roasted plums, and white balsamic vinaigrette) for the table.

For my main course, I ordered the Spicy NY Strip, which was served with crushed Yukon potatoes, crispy onions, garlic confit, and topped with a red wine sauce. This bad boy was incredible. A perfectly cooked medium rare strip and I may have clapped when it was delivered to the table. Seriously, it was sexy. I ended the night with the Brownie Sundae served with coffee​ ice cream and a chocolate chili sauce.

An amazing meal and a great night with friends … what more could a girl want?!?

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The Crew (photo courtesy of Katie)

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Finally Friday …

After a long, but great week, I’m off to Georgia to spend time with college friends and see a beautiful friend get hitched. I’m driving instead of flying and I’m beyond thrilled. Sometimes there is nothing better for the soul than a solo road trip. I’ve got my playlist ready to go and I plan to sing at the top of my lungs to end the week and start the weekend off right. One of the songs on my playlist is by a band I was introduced to by my friend, Magen. The band is called Wild Club and here is their song “Thunder Clatter”.

 

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Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars …

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As I was taking my dog, Smitty, for a walk this morning, I felt that there was ‘something’ about today. When I looked at my phone and saw the date, I kept thinking “what is it about today … what am I missing.” I wasn’t sure if it was a birthday of someone I know, but I knew there was ‘something’ about today. The answer hit me quietly. Today would have been my 10 year wedding anniversary and I’m so glad that it is not.

That last statement may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. I wish nothing but the best for my ex-husband, but that is a door that I am glad is closed and nailed shut. Once I realized what the ‘something’ about today was, I started reflecting on the people I’ve met, the lessons I’ve learned, the relationships I’ve strengthened, and the adventures I’ve been on over the past 2.5 years. Without a doubt in my mind, I know I’m exactly where I need to be.

One of the changes I’ve made since my marriage ended has been to recommit myself to my faith. I’ve found a great church and I’ve become part of a life group comprised of some of the most amazing women I’ve ever met. Our group is currently reading Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars by Marilynn Chadwick. The book focuses on being thoughtful in prayer, but also how to listen for the voice of God.

I can tell you that God roared on the day my marriage ended. Being in that moment was horrible and I would never wish it on my worst enemy, but now that I’m out of it, I can see why it happened. My marriage was not healthy, especially towards the end. A few months before we separated, I remember being in my car on my way to workout and I had what I call a gut-check prayer. To me, a gut-check prayer is one of those moments where you are your most honest, you hold nothing back and just let whatever is troubling your heart out. I knew I was in a bad situation and I felt lost, so I gave my marriage and my life to God’s will. Well, he gave me my answer and then he gave me some of the greatest gifts and lessons I’ve ever learned. Sometimes you have to be broken down to be built back up.

So today I will say a prayer for the lost girl I was and say another prayer of praise for who I am today. Although God roared on the day my marriage ended, I heard him whisper to me today. I’m convinced he said “you got this, girl” because that’s how we roll.

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My experience in fundraising …

I am a firm believer in getting out of my comfort zone (do I even have one anymore?) and being selected as a 2014 STANDOUT Charlotte honoree by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has definitely challenged me.

I have always been involved in either volunteering with or personally donating to various causes and nonprofits close to my heart, but I have never truly been a fundraiser for a cause. As a requirement of being an honoree, one of my tasks has been to fund raise for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Currently, there is not a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF) and that is why fundraising for research is so vital.

I’m not the type of person to “ask” others for anything, no matter how much I need help. This process has taught me not only to ask, but to allow myself to be surprised by the actions of others. I have seen so much good throughout this process, that I know there was a reason God gave me this challenge. I truly believe God wanted me to learn that people want to help, they just need to be asked, and that sometimes people will surprise and not disappoint you if given the chance.

As I’ve gone through this process and learned about CF and the Foundation, my heart has truly been touched. I have always been a defender of the underdog (you can ask my parents), and in the scheme of fundraising for diseases, that’s CF, the underdog. Since there is such a small percentage of people living with the disease, it’s not as well known, and thus not a “mainstream” cause to support. Those involved with the Foundation have to fight for every dollar earned.

I’ve made asks and I even dressed up as Super Girl to raise awareness. I’m all about the fight and it’s a great feeling to know that I may be able to make a small difference for such a worthy cause.   If you are interested in donating to help fund future research for CF, please consider donating to my campaign here 

And here I am as Super Girl (and yes, that is a flaming bra behind me on the wall) …

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Taking Things for Granted …

It’s human nature to take things for granted, and I for one will admit my guilt. Sometimes the tiny dramas of the day can get magnified and make you lose sight of what is really important. Recently, I have been humbled by being selected as a 2014 STANDOUT Charlotte honoree by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I am extremely honored to be recognized, but I’m more amazed at being able to try to help fund raise for such an amazing organization.

It wasn’t until recently that cystic fibrosis as a disease was even on my radar.  Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. An estimated 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide) have CF. I can’t imagine what it is like to have difficulty breathing or digesting your food and I love food. I also can’t imagine what it would be like to have a life-expectancy rate assigned to me from birth.

Embarking on this journey has really taught me how much I take for granted, particularly regarding my health. As part of my honoree tasks, I have been asked to fund raise for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Currently, there is not a cure for CF and that is why fundraising for research is so vital.

I appreciate that this honor is also a challenge to me and the other honorees. I have assisted with fundraising efforts before, but never done this on my own.  It’s a great feeling to know that I may be able to make a small difference.  If you are interested in donating to help fund future research for CF, please consider donating here https://finest.cff.org/erin-maddrey-honorees-finest.

 

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Mermaids and Music

Sometimes all you need to recharge is a quick trip to the beach and that is exactly what I did this past weekend. Being around water immediately takes me to my happy place, and I’m convinced I have some mermaid genes in my DNA makeup.

This weekend I went to Edisto Island with two amazing friends and had a blast. There were some interesting parts to our adventure, like being caught in a storm on our way down resulting in the most epic traffic jam (doubled our drive time), and then a man-of-war stinging a friend of mine while she was happily swimming in the water. Other than those little hiccups, we had a great time and no one was killed or seriously maimed. Lots of sun, relaxation and delicious meals in one of the cutest vacation spots the low country has to offer. One of the things I appreciated most was Edisto Island’s commitment to conservation, particularly the turtles that nest along the shore.  Through the state park, we took a turtle education class and then went out at night on a turtle walk in hopes of seeing nesting mommies, or hatched babies making the mad dash to the ocean. We did not see turtles this time, but we saw other cool creatures and learned a lot in the process.

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Hello creepy ghost crab. We had to use red lights to not disturb the turtles.

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I had to take a picture (I hate selfies) and show off my beachy hair that I’m loving/rocking in the office today.

Now this mermaid is landlocked once again, but I’ve had an exceptionally great Monday so far and  I have no complaints. Another reason I’m not complaining is because of some amazing music I’ve discovered recently. I’ve been a fan of Skylar Grey for years (when she was going by Holly Brook), but recently I discovered her song “Words I Never Said.” It is beautiful and haunting and is a reminder to never take anything or anyone for granted.

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Push Yourself

sweat-is-fat-cryingThe past few years have included times of extreme highs and extreme lows, but I embrace all of those moments as they have led me to where I am now. I love where I am now, but I am a person that does not like to be complacent or stay comfortable for too long. This need to challenge myself extends to all parts of my life, but for this particular post, I’m going to touch on ways I like to challenge myself physically.

Last year, I discovered running and completed my first 5K as a birthday present to myself. I absolutely loved the feeling of accomplishment and triumph that washed over me as I crossed the finish line. I love crushing goals and pushing myself to and exceeding new limits.  

This week, I found a new challenge and rediscovered one of my favorites.  In the past few months, I have focused on weights and cardio, but I knew I needed to switch things up a bit. Thanks to my friend, Magen, this week I finally tried Flywheel. I had heard such good things about the workout, and I’m so glad I went. The music was great, the instructor (Denise) was amazing and I left a sweaty happy mess. I will definitely be going back.

I also rediscovered one of my favorite workouts and studios in Charlotte, Carolina Barre & Core. I absolutely love the workouts and the instructors. I had been going regularly a few months back, but just let life get in the way. No excuses, especially since I love the workouts. I forgot about the infamous “shake” that occurs during these classes. When your body shakes, you are exhausting muscle and forcing it to tone, so embrace the shake!

I’m always looking for a new way to challenge myself, so let me know if you have any suggestions!

 

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