Thoughts for Thursday: December Highlights

As I slowly begin to take down the Christmas decorations scattered throughout our home, I wanted to take a moment to share a few of our December Highlights with you. I still can't believe that one of my favorite seasons has passed and we are about to ring in the New Year, does anyone else feel like this year flew by?! The past 31 days have been filled with joy, love and laughter. It has been a month of special memories and festive activities, if only I could hit rewind so we could do it all over again.

ONE. Getting dressed up to take our Christmas Card pictures.
TWO. This view and Football Sunday with my Dad.
THREE. Beers and BBQ with my sister and her husband.
FOUR. Squeezing my best friend after months of being 430 miles apart from each other.
FIVE. An evening at the Ballet, The Nutcracker did not disappoint.
SIX. 80 degrees in December and spending Christmas in Morehead City.
SEVEN. And one last Christmas tree picture. I love my MOL's white flocked Christmas Tree.

Chalk House Updates: Kitchen Remodel Inspiration

Happy Friday, dear friends! I am thrilled that there's only 9 hours between me and the weekend. TC and I have had a lot of {festive} fun the past 2 weeks but after last week's birthday celebrations and this week's Christmas parties, we are ready for a lazy Friday night at home. By 5:30pm, you will find me kicking up my feet, catching up on all your blogs and emails while enjoying a glass of wine on the couch. 

With the New Year quickly approaching, I am starting to feel the remodel itch coming on in full force. The first room that is on our list is the kitchen. We spend a lot of time here since we enjoy cooking and entertaining but it is also connected to our family room so if you can imagine these two rooms get a lot of use. I have been bookmarking countless websites, folding corners in numerous magazines and visiting kitchen stores endlessly on the weekends so I hope we can bring my vision to life soon. 
My Inspiration in Pictures:
  • Kitchen Cabinets: Painted either Green-Grey or Light Grey with Brass Hardware
  • Sink: Farmhouse sink with a Champagne Bronze Faucet

  •  Backsplash & Countertops: White Subway Tile with Marble Countertops
  • Lighting: Wide Glass Pendant Lights & Recessed Lighting under the Cabinets
  • Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Simple White

    I would love your feedback, what do you think?! If you have any suggestions, please share them. Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend!

Five on Friday

Another week is behind us and I can't wait to spend a relaxing weekend at home enjoying all our Christmas decorations, snuggling our pups that haven't felt well all week, wrapping the presents that have slowly started to trickle in from Cyber Monday and squeezing in a few pre-birthday celebrations with TC!

It's time to link-up with April for Five on Friday and Amanda for Friday Favorites. 

ONE: It's my favorite time of the year! I always love looking in my closet to find that perfect festive outfit for our Christmas card picture. We are taking them this weekend which means I have been looking at hundreds of cards online. I have rounded up my top three from Minted and would love your help. Do you have a favorite?

TWO: Speaking of Christmas, this view will never get old. I wish we could enjoy it just a little bit longer than the month of December. 

THREE: Everyone has been sharing such delicious recipes that I can't help but to share a few with you! I am not going to worry about that silly thing called a diet until January 1st. :)
Designer Bags and Dirty Diapers shared a Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole. Doesn't this make you want to run out to the grocery store to get the ingredients so you can make it tomorrow morning?
During the week, I am always looking for a twist to the normal sandwich or microwave meal I take to work so when I saw these delicious Tortilla Roll Ups on Ellie and Addie's blog, I was sold. I've already included all the items on my grocery list so I can make them on Monday.

FOUR: Ever since I saw this quote, it has been my mantra. Change is tough for me {I have shared this before here} but I am fearlessly focused on pursuing a few things in 2016 that I have been thinking about recently. Stay tuned, more details to come. 
FIVE: I'm sure you have noticed that I am a huge sports fan and football is one of my favorites! Since I have grown up in North Carolina, our professional sports teams have never been consistently good. We have our "hot" and "cold" seasons and it is usually more cold than hot. Well, this year is one of those {sizzlin'} hot seasons. Fingers crossed the Carolina Panthers will remain undefeated this weekend after they take on the New Orleans Saints! I think it is a great possibility. Go Panthers!

I hope everyone has an amazing and relaxing weekend!

Weekend Highlights + Gift Guide: For Him

Thanksgiving 2015 was a huge success and has me still smiling my way through a cold, dreary Monday! We spent the past 5 days enjoying our loved ones, cooking family recipes, creating new traditions, and making memories that we will cherish forever. We've enjoyed hosting Thanksgiving at our home the past 2 years but this one was one for the books. Preparing Thanksgiving for 27 people was a bit different than the 9 people that we hosted last year but everything came together seamlessly and we were enjoying all our favorite dishes by 1:30pm.
We braved the crowds on Friday and the ladies spent the morning shopping and enjoying brunch at one of my favorite spots in Cameron Village, Tupelo Honey Cafe, while the guys broke out their sticks and headed to the golf course. I found great deals on a few items at the local boutiques in the area but I am excited to finish most of my Christmas shopping today with the Cyber Monday sales. What sales do you have your eye on?

Saturday was spent tailgating at Carter Finley Stadium for the last time in 2015, I can't believe football season is already coming to an end. Does anyone else feel the same way?! This particular game is always one of my favorite match-ups each season, NC State Wolfpack versus UNC Tarheels.
The intensity of the game is driven by the universities' similar size, the short distance between the 2 universities {25 miles} and we are both part of the infamous Tobacco Road Rivalry which includes NC State, UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke. It doesn't help that I graduated from NC State and my sister graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill so the family rivalry is just as big in our eyes as the actual rivalry!
Speaking of tailgates, I have rounded up a few of my favorite gifts for the men that enjoy hosting a fun yet well-prepared tailgate like my husband.
1. I have recently stumbled upon a few subscription boxes for men while Christmas shopping this year and I am obsessed! Mantry's Tailgate Tour box is one of my favorites.

2. No tailgate is complete without entertainment. Being able to watch all the other games before cheering on your hometown team is the perfect excuse to order DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket.

3. Finding a cooler that can fit everything you need for a tailgate party was impossible to find until we purchased our first Yeti Tundra Cooler. An added bonus, you won't ever have to worry about your ice melting during a hot, summer day.

4. Olly Oxen Belts are the best way to dress up {or down} your tailgate attire. I was an Olly Oxen Representative during their first few years, it was a pleasure to work for Charlotte and her two brothers. They are the sweetest family!

5. To add to the entertainment, the UE Megaboom Speaker would be all you need to play your favorite tailgate playlist.

I'll leave you with a final laugh about the Thanksgiving holiday with this hard to beat Mashup by The Holderness Family. I hope everyone had a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving!

Gift Guide: For Her

Oh, always come so quickly! TC was out of town this weekend for a golf tournament so I spent Friday and Saturday catching up with girlfriends and browsing my favorite stores in Raleigh. All the shops were decorated for Christmas and were smelling like a fresh Frasier Fir, I was in heaven. With only 39 days until one of my favorite Holidays, I was excited to start my Christmas shopping a little earlier than I typically do.

I'm sharing a few of my gift guides for all those amazing women in our lives that enjoy playing dress up or hostess with the mostest. I will be back later this week with a few more gift guides for him. :)
1. Who doesn't love a subscription box for a gift? Stitch Fix is always a great option for someone that enjoys the convenience of receiving a few new stylish items on their door step.

2. My heart skips a beat every time I see these beautiful Lisi Lerch Tassel Earrings online or in a local shop. These are the perfect way to put a little sass in your evening outfit!

3. I can't create a gift guide without including my favorite go-to GiGi Clutch. I'll take one of each color, please! :)

4. Hello, gorgeous! The hand-beaded Roarke scarf was made to dress up a neutral blouse or dress, it is the perfect accessory that is on the top of my wishlist this holiday season.

5. After playing dress up, I find myself counting down the minutes until I can slip into comfy pajamas and curl up on the couch for the rest of the evening. Lake Pajamas were made for Sunday morning snuggles.
1. I have a weakness for any {and every} coffee table book, they are such a special gift especially if you write a personalized note inside so they can always remember the special occasion.

2. A simple yet practical way to present cheese and crackers at your next cocktail party. I love this unique serving board!

3. For the fish lovers in your life, a cedar grilling plank paired with a fish spatula and a sprig of thyme. Easy!

4. The Zodax Fez Cut Tumbler Glass Set is the easiest way to spruce up any bar cart.

5. Treat the Host and/or Hostess to a relaxing date night at Sur la Table with a cooking class and a bottle of wine to enjoy together. This is my kind of Friday night!

6. You can't go wrong with fresh flowers and a beautiful vase. I love, love, love our Vietri Incanto White Pleated Vase.

Happy Shopping, sweet friends! I hope you have a wonderful week!

Chalk Travels: Recapping our 1st Anniversary Trip

Happy Friday Eve! I have sat down to write this post at least 3 times yet something distracts me and I have yet to hit publish. Today is the day though, I am excited to share the most relaxing and beautiful Anniversary weekend that was spent in Asheville, North Carolina. For those of you that are from North Carolina, you realize how breathtaking the views can be in September and this weekend was no exception. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, the mornings and evenings were a crisp 50 or so degrees and the leaves were beginning to change to their fall colors. Oh my, it was gorgeous!

We treated ourselves and stayed at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, which is designed to look and feel like a European hunting lodge with the Blue Ridge Mountains as your backdrop. The entire staff was incredible from the moment that we pulled up to when we were walking out the door on Sunday, they truly made the experience complete. Let's just say, this happy Bride didn't have a {single} care in the world during our time there.
On Saturday, we spent the day at the Biltmore Estate! The Biltmore is the family home of the Vanderbilts that is a marvel of elegance and charm. George Vanderbilt wanted the home to be a French Renaissance chateau with 250 rooms for his family and friends to enjoy. We took a tour of the home which is filled with the family's vintage clothing, accessories, art, furniture and so much more.
We strolled acres upon acres of gardens where I found myself snapping pictures every few seconds. I am confident that their team of landscapers and horticultural experts must stay {very} busy because the beauty of the grounds and gardens is breathtaking. Lunch and a wine tasting were next on our list so we drove to Antler Hill Village to sip, eat and relax. I still find myself craving the Pimento Cheese, Green Tomato, Bacon with Pesto Aioli sandwich from Cedric's Tavern. It sounds divine, right?!  
Saturday night, I slipped back into my Rehearsal Dinner dress and dusted off my Wedding Day shoes for dinner at the Red Stag Grill because it was time to celebrate 365 days of marriage to my handsome husband! Every day I am thankful that "I have found the one whom my soul loves." TC - Thank you for making me a better woman, wife, sister, daughter and friend. I am so proud to be your wife!
Following dinner, it was time to open presents! The suspense was killing me because as you know from this post we were going to exchange traditional gifts. TC is always thoughtful and creative in his gift giving so I knew that he was going to do something that I would never expect {which he did}. He created a list of Chalk Adventures that included about 10 trips and events that we've talked about doing over the years. From the list, he asked me to guess which event or trip was the one that he had already planned for us. Have no fear, my very first guess was correct...he purchased tickets and we are going to Nashville, TN for the CMA Music Festival in June! We are huge country music fans so I was in complete shock. I am already counting down the days until we are listening to all of our favorite artists from sun up to sun down!

It was hard to top that but I was still really excited to share the gifts that I had gotten us. Months before our anniversary, I had narrowed down my paper options to three for a gift that was going to be for both of us. After a lot of thought, I decided to go with the Custom Painted Wedding Invitation Keepsake and it turned out beautiful! I will have it framed and hung on the wall soon.
TC is not only a huge country music fan, he is also a huge fan of NASCAR. He has grown up going to races with his family and he now has me attending 1 or 2 every year. Who would have thought?! :) So it only seemed fitting that I gave him a ticket for the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Charlotte. He will be in the driver's seat of a NASCAR race car for 8 laps!    

What a special weekend to celebrate an even more special year for us. Our journey has just begun and I can't wait to see what is in store for us!

Reader Request: Your Personal Brand

Happy Wednesday, everyone! After sharing a small glimpse into my career in this post a few weeks ago, I received a request from the most caring mom of 4 boys that I've enjoyed getting to know over the past few months through our weekly emails. One of her sons will be graduating from college in May so she asked if I could provide insight into what recruiters and organizations are looking for in recent graduates? In addition, what could her son do right now to set himself apart from everyone else?

Knowing that my passion is university recruiting, I was thrilled to share my thoughts with her and each of you as well. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to help in any way!

ONE. Develop your personal brand
Developing your personal brand is vital to your success. In today's marketplace, it's tough to stand out. I can promise you that good grades and lots of extracurricular activities won't guarantee that you'll land the job that you have been dreaming about for the past 5 years.

Many people ask me, what is your personal brand? It is your reputation. It's about sharing who you are to what you do and how you do it. It's what you're known for and how people experience you. When you are interviewing think of these four questions and try to share your answers throughout the entire interview process -

  • What are your unique strengths, skills and attributes?
  • What will make you stand out in the eyes of potential employers (among the sea of interested candidates)?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • How do you choose the career that's right for you?

TWO: Your first impression
We all know how important your first impression can be in a variety of circumstances but it is extremely important during the interview process. I recently read an article on LinkedIn that stated, "33% of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone." WOW.

THREE: Be prepared
As a Recruiter, I can say with confidence that the biggest and most common mistake made during interviews is not being prepared. You have to conduct research on the company, understand the role that you are interviewing for in great detail and be able to review and explain the qualifications that you have for the particular role.

I recommend thoroughly researching the company, which means more than just the company website. Some of my favorite tools for this type of research are LinkedIn's Company Profiles and Glassdoor. Then, put your search engine to work to try to find information about the following areas -

  • What is their company's reputation?
  • Who are their competitors? 
  • How is the organization doing financially?
  • What are their leading products, solutions or services?
  • How does the company present themselves online or in their social media outlets?

Having all this knowledge will set you apart from the pack and allow you to ask meaningful questions that will lead you to the right company.

FOUR: Be cautious of time
A study was conducted by a group of Career Development teams across the country, they found that the average length of an interview is approximately 40 minutes. During the interview, you have to ensure that you highlight ALL that you have to offer. For students that includes -

  • Coursework {and projects within the courses}
  • Professional Experience {part-time, summer, internship, or volunteer experience}
  • Technical Skill Sets {technical in regards to your particular concentration/major}
  • Leadership 
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Hobbies and Passions
  • Unique Attributes 

FIVE. Be able to speak to your resume
Your resume is a critical piece to your personal brand. Take time to make sure it is p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Every company, recruiter, and hiring manager receives hundreds upon hundreds of resumes for each role so make sure it is easy to follow, it encompasses every detail of who you are, and that every detail/bullet point adds value.

Once you have been selected to interview, you should be prepared to briefly explain your experience in approximately 1-2 minutes. Consider these few minutes, your personal elevator pitch. After your elevator pitch, you want the person interviewing you to already know that you are a rock star! Because if you aren't then I promise, I will find someone that is.

As the interview continues to progress, you will want to feel comfortable expanding on any {and all} details that have been listed on your resume.

SIX: Don't always focus on you
I know that we have all heard it a million times over the years but it is the truth...
When you interview, I highly recommend that you take time to learn about the interviewer. You will be surprised at the amount of information that you can take away about the team dynamic, company culture, work environment, etc. when you ask just a few questions about the person sitting across from you.

SEVEN: Interest, Enthusiasm and Passion
There are two quotes that always stand out to me when I think about showcasing your interest, enthusiasm and passion during the interview and throughout your entire career. I challenge students that I meet every day on-campus or at our recruiting events to find a job that makes you excited to get up every morning! You are going to spend a large portion of your life working so make it count.
EIGHT: Ask for the job
Many applicants think that submitting an application, writing a cover letter, and showing up for the interview is known as "asking for the job." WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. You have to reiterate your interest in the job as often as you can during the interview process because it is the only way that we know that you are truly interested.

At the end of the interview state that "I feel confident that my experience, skill sets and passion would be a good fit for the job and I would be like to learn more about the next steps in the interview process." Bam! You asked for the job.

But it doesn't stop there. Make sure you collect contact information from each person that you spoke with so you can follow-up within 24 hours with a personalized thank you note. Don't hesitate to ask who is the best person to stay in touch with during the post-interview process so you can continue to express your interest in the role once you leave the interview.