Messy Jessy

enjoying the beautiful mess that is life

New Girl in Town: Charlotte Shakespeare Festival June 3, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,New Girl in Town — Jess @ 8:41 pm
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I spent most of yesterday afternoon writing a really rough, rough draft of my first grad school paper (eek!)  I got home around 5 pm and asked the painfully frequent question around my house “What do you want to do tonight?” I tossed out the idea of going to see a movie, but we both agreed yesterday was too perfect of a June evening to waste inside a movie theatre.

I went to my go to website/blog to see what’s going on around town – Charlotte on the Cheap. If you a fellow Charlottian (how fun is that to say?!), you need to check out the blog and follow on Twitter so you don’t miss out on any Queen City fun! Ok I’ll end my unsolicited commercial now : )

So within a few minutes, I figured out the Charlotte  Shakespeare Festival had just kicked off. It’s free ($5 suggested donation) and outside at The Green, an outdoor park smack dab in the middle of Uptown! Sounds pretty near perfect. Within minutes, I grabbed my sweater (yes I said sweater and  it’snJune 2nd!) and our lawn chairs to make our way downtown.

While JT set up our lawn chairs, I went right across the park to Fuel Pizza for a few slices of real, deal NY-style pizza to go. We chowed down on our food and were serenaded with  pre-show music from a guy and a guitar playing lots of familiar covers.

My lovely date and me

All under the glow of Duke Energy building in Uptown

I’ll make a confession – I was not well-versed in The Tempest. It took a few minutes to get used to the King’s English and thanks to the help of Sparknotes on my phone – I was back in business! It was a fabulous night of picnicking under the stars and watching a modern twist on The Tempest.

Miranda and Ferdinand

If you’re in Charlotte – Don’t.Miss.Out. I can’t promise the weather will be amazing as it was last night, but I can promise you will have a great time! Bring your wine, snacks, and lawn chairs for a cultured good time!

Charlotte Shakespeare Festival presents The Temptest

May 31st – June 17th

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 6:30 pm

Uptown at The Green 


Ode to the Blue Terd May 21, 2012

Filed under: family,New Girl in Town,random,reflections — Jess @ 7:27 pm
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The Blue Terd, my affectionate name for my 2001 Honda Civic, and I shared a momentous moment last Friday in the middle of  rush-hour traffic Interstate 85. I considered pulling over to have a moment, but alas the concrete construction barricades prevented that from happened. So instead I decided to snap a quick picture in observance! (For my Mom and other concerned drivers, traffic was at a [almost] standstill at this point)

We have made it to 170,000 miles together!  Oh the miles we have covered together!

The summer after Sophomore year spent driving through the back roads of Kentucky with the sunroof down falling in love with John Mayer. All of the miles spent driving back and forth on the weekends to see my love. All of the body work done over the years as a result of JT’s fabulous driving record (backing into a mailbox, pulling out into oncoming traffic while parallel parked on a side street …). All of the trips down the I-75 corridor from Lexington to Cordele. The “infamous” Coke battle in the Cracker Barrel parking lot with the stains still on the roof to prove. My own personal Karaoke bar – sans the alcohol of course. Driving to Texas for the best “road trip” into married life. Drives along the county roads in East Texas while quickly discovering Insurance Sales was not my life calling.  Packing up the car with no room for any.thing.else. on the final trip leaving Texas.  The days gone by of filling up the tank for less than $15 that now costs over $40, but it still gets 34 miles to the gallon! Moments when I’ve wanted to literally run away, but a good drive on a back road helped clear my mind and bring me back to sanity.

Although there are cracks in the paint job, the CD player has long been in working order, the driver’s window works some of the time, the gorilla glue where the roof lining meets the back window — all of these are signs of a much-loved and used car. Even though the new car bug bit me a few months ago, the new car payment reality prescription has worked quite well!

Here’s to you Blue Terd and hoping to make it to 200,000 together with a few more miles and memories to go!


Hometown Glory March 11, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,New Girl in Town — Jess @ 11:26 pm
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Last fall we made the 10 mile move out of Charlotte proper and hopped the county line into Concord, NC. Over the past few months, there’s some definite things I love about my new hometown and thought I’d share.


I’m surprised at how many people in my life outside of the Carolinas know where Concord is. The most infamous place is Charlotte Motor Speedway, home to several BIG NASCAR races. Even though it’s known as the Charlotte Motor Speedway, it’s technically not in Charlotte –  but hey we have the Charlotte Bobcats baseball team in South Carolina so I guess we’re not big on geographical boundaries around here! I’ve been to the NASCAR mecca twice and both were quite enjoyable experiences that had little to do with cars driving in circles. The area is home to many NASCAR race teams and you’ll see streets like Thunder Road, Dale Earnhardt Blvd, and where else can you follow the Dale Trail??

The Avett Brothers

I’ve been a fan of these genre-defying guys since I was first introduced to them a couple of years ago. I was even more thrilled a few months ago when I realized the two brothers were from Concord – pretty killer. If you haven’t checked these out, click here for a listen and buy some of their tunes.

S&D Coffee

There’s nothing like driving through downtown Concord and smelling fresh coffee being roasted. There’s a good chance if you’ve brewed in-room coffee while staying at hotel, you’ve experienced S&D Coffee. I’m still hoping I can get a job there in Quality Assurance.

Concord Mills

People think I’m crazy when I say I often forget about Concord Mills. Sure it’s a HUGE indoor outlet with a BIG movie theater, Dave & Buster’s and pretty much any chain restaurant in a mile radius — but I hate the traffic and massiveness of it all. I’d rather enjoy dinner at my local favorite Afton Tavern and avoid the crazies.

Historic Downtown Concord

When you’re in/move to Charlotte you quickly realize there’s two sides/parts to Concord. There’s the Concord built around the Racetrack and Concord Mills – and then there’s the “real”, original Concord. The city was established well before NASCAR even existing as a textile powerhouse.

Union Street is home to two historical districts recognized by National Register of Historic Places. Homes of former textile industry giants line the streets from a bygone era. The JW Cannon home is my personal favorite and is on the market for a modest 1.1 million dollars if you’re in the market for a 10,000+ square foot, 100 hundred old historical home.

JW Cannon House (picture from CMLS listing)

There’s still a lot more to explore around downtown Concord and I can’t wait to try out a few restaurants I’ve heard about – including Gianni’s Trattoria.


New Fave Places and Faces October 29, 2011

Filed under: Charlotte,New Girl in Town — Jess @ 12:40 am
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With each new move and home, there’s always new places and faces that go along. I’m pretty excited to find new back road shortcuts and local businesses to “support”.

Here’s a few of my new-found and local favorites:

Dilworth Coffeehouse – Yes there’s a Starbucks close by too, but I love local places that roast their own beans.

Afton Village – I LOVE this spot. Unlike most strip malls filled with chains, this development is main street-style mixed use space that has a local and small town feel. During the summer, there are concerts and movies shown on the green! Here’s a few of my faves within Afton Village.

E Noodles & Company – This is a cute Asian Bistro with awesome Thai and fusion style food.  We’ve eaten there a few times for dinner when we’d drive up after work and take a look at house during construction.

Afton Tavern – They have an AMAZING patio area and live music on the weekends. We met up with some friends and had awesome service and good food. Their cookie skillet dessert is hard to beat and definitely made to share.

DOUGH Bakery – My soon to be neighbor Brandy brought over a few cupcakes from DOUGH the other day and they were great. I have been putting off trying DOUGH out for fear I would really really like their yummy baked goods. Side note – Brandy found my blog at that put the pieces together that we’re in the same neighborhood. Our schedules have been a little crazy the last week but can’t wait to meet her in person.

I can’t wait to check our Martino’s for some yummy Italian food.

So many new “adventures” to be had in our new backyard!


Memorial Day Weekend Extravaganza!! June 2, 2011

For my faithful tens (of thousands) readers, I’m still here despite the lack of attention I’ve given to my blog lately. My team at work is in the home stretch of a marathon in implementing a new global client.

This past weekend, we took a break from the work crazy and made a long weekend into an extra long weekend. My sister Rachel and her husband George drove up to Charlotte for their first taste of the Queen City.

We kicked off the long weekend with a trip to Pole Night at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

I didn’t realize until we got there (free tickets from my Uncle Michael!) exactly what Pole Night really is. It’s the pre-qualifier for the big race (Coca Cola 600) where the drivers race one at a time for the best times and move forward to the race on Sunday.

Watching the “race” on the World’s Largest HD TV!!! WOO HOO!

We also got to see lots of camo, missing teeth, big trucks, and all other things that fit the Redneck-lovin’ NASCAR sterotypes.

On Friday – we had a grand time at Speed Street. Several blocks of  Uptown (downtown) Charlotte are blocked off and filled with vendors giving away free samples of food/products, give-a-ways and games. We had a blast and collected several bags full of General Mills cereal, ate several “half” hotdogs from Oscar Meyer, and much more “junk”.

My Rachie Poo has turned into quite the Coupon Diva. She’s hardcore and has a binder, speaks a foreign language of “Stacking” and “ECB”, and is saving a ton of money. However if I find her guest bedroom has been turned into a “stockpile room” on my next visit, we may have to stage an intervention. haha. She was in coupon heaven since most of the vendors were not only giving away free samples, but coupons too! Food Lion is the main corporate sponsor of Speed Street and has an entire area with cooking demos, games, giveaways.

Here’s Rachel with her reusable grocery bag from Food Lion. They only gave these out on the top of the hour and of course we arrived at 2:10. We all waited around like good sports in the hot sun until 3 pm so she could get her free bag. I was willing to just pay the dollar and get her one at the grocery store!

While waiting for the infamous bags, we took a “tour” of Texas. I swear the Lone Start state is stalking me! : )

By the end of the day, we were a walking billboard for Food Lion.

The rest of the weekend was spent at IKEA, chilling by the pool, grilling out with Uncle Michael at the campgrounds, and just hanging out. It was great to have Raquel and Jorge in town. I’m not sure if our “Operation: Move to Charlotte” was a success or not, but hopefully they’ll be back up for another visit really soon!


New Girl in Town: Charlotte Checkers November 12, 2010

Filed under: Charlotte,New Girl in Town — Jess @ 10:06 pm
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Last Sunday, JT and I went with our friends Rick and Melissa to see the Charlotte Checkers hockey game. We got a really great deal on center ice tickets from Groupon.  I was pumped about going to my first hockey game!

I think Melissa though it was funny that I’d never been to a hockey game, especially since their next-door neighbor growing up was Canada. : )

Not too many hockey teams in south Georgia – except for the famous Macon Whoopee team! (I was about 19 before I got why that hockey team name was so funny – I thought as a kid it was funny because of Whoopee cushions ha!)

I honestly had no clue about hockey, so thanks Rick for the quick lesson! I now understand an “icing” and a few other hockey terms/rules. The penalty box basically is time out when grown up men don’t play nice!

We did get to see one really good fight while at the hockey game!

Owch! That's gotta hurt!

The Charlotte Checkers “iced” the Hershey Bears and won 4-2!  If only I could have them “highlight” the puck  like they do on TV so I could keep up with the puck. During the game I did accidentally call it a “ball” several  times – oops! I also love the fact that the mascot’s name is Chubby – Chubby Checkers! Love it!

A new sport with new friends in a new city – a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


New Girl in Town: Team Ricky Bobby! (or my first NASCAR race) November 3, 2010

Filed under: Charlotte,New Girl in Town — Jess @ 10:07 pm
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A couple of weeks late, but better late than never, right?

The events that took place on Saturday – October 16th

3 pm –
me – “Hey JT! – Do you want to go to the race tonight?”
JT – “doesn’t matter”
me – “Let me check out Craigslist and see how much tix are. Holy crap the cheapest ones are 40 bucks. That’s crazy to spend that much money to watch people drive around in a circle”

6:15 pm ish
JT takes Lola out for a “potty” walk and meets our next-door neighbor Sean as he was walking in/out the door.  Sean asks if we’re going to the Race tonight. Sean volunteered to give us some free extra tickets he had. SCORE!

6:17 pm
I jump in the shower like a crazy lady to get ready. I know what you’re thinking – but I was pretty stinky after cleaning up around the house.

6:42 pm
We are out the door in record timing! Team Patton record for both of us to be showered, hair blow-dryed, the works.  The race starts at 7:30 pm and even though it is just up the road, we’re expecting traffic to be a beast.

6:53 pm
Quick “pit stop” (ha!) at Walgreen’s to get some gum, ear buds (to block the loud noise from the cars) and some cash!

7:00 pm
We pull in at ” Uncle Billy Bob’s” parking lot – also known as his side and front yard. We’re one of the last cars and luck up with an awesome parking spot for just $10 and a relatively short walk (about 1/2 mile). While getting our jackets out, JT strikes up a friendly conversation with one of the drunk “parking attendants” and/or Billy Bob’s third cousin on a four-wheeler (Drunk, camo, PBR – we’re on point for NASCAR). He kept talking about these tickets he had to the Jim Beam Party Deck. At any moment, I was expecting him to haggle us to buy these tickets. But just as we were about to walk away, he offered to give us the tickets because he “had plenty of beer and food back here”. SCORE! We’ll take it.

7:10 pm

We get to the Charlotte Motor Speedway (man this place is massive) and finally get to the right section for the Jim Beam Party Deck. Super excited about the free food, drinks, and perks that await – oh and don’t forget the people watching!

Security – “Ma’am – I’m going to need to see your ID”
me – “Oh crap! I totally didn’t even think about needing my ID and left it in the car over a mile away. Is there any way you can let me in?? I swear I”m over 21 and you even give me something that says I can’t drink”
Security – “Sorry but the cops are really watching us tonight and I can’t”
me – a few “choice” words in my brain about not believing that I forgot my ID when going to the Jim Beam party deck for crying out loud.

7:30 pm
Star Spangled Banner
“Gentlemen – Start your Engines” and the race is off.

7:45 pm
We start the hike back to our car after some serious contemplation of just going to sit in our “other” seats.

8:30 pm
We finally make it back to the Party Deck and the fun begins.

I have to admit I know hardly anything about NASCAR, except that which I learned from Talladega Nights. but definitely had some jealous uncles after that night. Once inside the party deck, everything that you wanted was there!

Scantily glad Coors Light girls shake their boo-tay all night long while drunk guys gawk at them

Yummy buffet with plenty of food!

Amazing, up-close view of the race and action!

Free drinks!

My bourbon sippin' man!

Free scanners and headsets!

Great people watching!

and a night-full of memories that has definitely spoiled me for any future NASCAR race!


My advice: if you ever get offered free tickets to the Jim Beam Party Deck by a drunk redneck “parking attendant” 15 minutes before a NASCAR race – TAKE THEM!!!


The New Girl in Town : Verizon Wireless Amphitheater July 19, 2010

As the “new kids in town” to Charlotte – JT & I are getting adjusted to life in the Queen City.

Before we moved here I was really curious to know why Charlotte is often referred to as  the “Queen City”. Maybe you could care less, but I must confess I am my father’s daughter and love interesting tidbits and history factoids, this is why JT sometimes calls me WikiJess.  So humor me and let me give you a 10 second history lesson. Charlotte is named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III of England. Bonus tidbit: Mecklenburg is the name of the county surrounding Charlotte  and is in honor of  Mecklenburg, Germany, the home of Queen Charlotte. Okay… enough history and random factoids, but if you win Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit one day because of this… I expect a shout out!

Before and even after relocating, we constantly get asked “Why Charlotte?” One of the most obvious reasons why we moved half-way across the country from Houston to Charlotte is to be closer to our families in Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky. Some other reasons that were also high on the list are: four “true” seasons versus Texas’ “hot” and “hotter”, a big city with small town charm, affordable housing, and lots of “things to do”.

I’ve decided to start a new series of posts called “The New Girl in Town” to give you a  newbie’s backyard perspective to Charlotte and life in the Queen City. We’ve been to EpiCentre and a few other places so far – so I’ll catch you up and keep you up to date of our adventures around town. I love playing “tourist” in my own town and fully exploring all of the known and tucked away places! Maybe I should go ahead and warn JT of  a pending trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. : )

This past Friday night, we went to see one of our favorite artists, John Mayer, at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (VWA). This wasn’t the first time for us to see Mayer in concert, but was the first time at the VWA (that sounds like a place for old folks to play bingo-ha!) .  We’ve enjoyed several concerts at The Woodlands Pavilion (North Houston) which really isn’t a fair comparison for VWA. When I first found out VMA is operated by LiveNation (a division of TicketMaster), I was less than thrilled. If you know me, you know how much I absolutely loathe TicketMaster and their inconvenient “convenience” fees.
I was smart enough to do a little bit of homework before the show and found out you could bring in your own food (as long as it fits in a clear gallon bag) and one bottle of unopened water. I decided to snag some Quizno’s for dinner on the way to the Amphitheater and once I got there I was thrilled. I only paid $5.50 for a 20 ounce Coke Zero once inside!!  If you like more “hard-core” drinks than Coke Zero, be prepared to “tailgate” ahead of  time in the parking lot or pay $11 for a beer and $14 for a margarita. One of my co-workers confessed after the fact that she’s used the “clear bag” rule to her advantage by soaking fresh fruit in a certain clear liquid.
Our tickets for the concert were in the lawn section. It was nice to be able to spread out, but wasn’t so great during the pre-concert thunderstorm. You can bring your own chairs in for lawn section as long as they’re not taller than 9 inches. We opted for the chair rentals for $5. Unless you’re wanting to be up close and personal with the band and the weather forecast is favorable, I really think lawn seats are the way to go.
We arrived about 1 1/2 hours before the show started because I read reviews online about nightmarish traffic getting in and out, but we had no issues at all. We were out of there in less than 15 minutes post-show.

All in all – I’ve definitely been to nicer Amphitheater-style venues, but nothing quite says summer like kickin’ back and listening to your favorite artist under the stars. That is…  if you’re willing to risk the weather and paying the devil his dues. I’m sure we’ll be back!

Crazy summer thunderstorm before the concert started

John Mayer from Stage (I have a good zoom on my point 'n click)

Mayer show complete with snarky comments and funny faces


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