Staycation with the [Extended] Family

A much overdue recap of my family’s visit to Raleigh! Alternate title: Staycation with the Whole Fam Damily ūüôā

Last Sunday morning, my uncle and cousins from Norway arrived in Raleigh for the first time ever! We were on a mission to show them the best of Raleigh without doing too much boring sightseeing  stuff [sightseeing is not terribly interesting to 13 and 15 year olds, apparently!]. The highlight of seeing them is always just hanging out, catching up, and acting like kids, so we wanted to focus on that.

Took them to Cracker Barrel for the first time

Spent the day at pool having raft races & attempting to stand up on our rafts

Enjoyed a mocha coconut Starbucks frappuccino

Had a cook out with several of our close friends

Went back to the pool for boys vs girls pool volleyball

Ate brunch at Flying Biscuit, where we may or may not have filled a glass of water with all the condiments on our table and then dared each other to drink it [we’re a very mature family]

Got ice cream at Yummy Monkey [coffee & rocky road]

Roller skated at Wheels in Durham to Call Me Maybe and Justin Bieber

Ate pork nachos and chicken tacos at Raleigh Times

Spun in our office chairs to make ourselves dizzy

Ate a Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s [my strawberry banana smoothie was delicious]

Spent the day at Frankie’s Fun Park on the bumper boats, playing laser tag, and doing go-karts

Saw TED at the North Hills movie theatre

Ate brunch at NOFO & explored the cute market

Ate more Yummy Monkey ice cream [mint chocolate chip & coffee]

Unfortunately, they had to leave on Wednesday evening. It was so sad saying goodbye, as it always is.

Love you, Norway fam ūüôā¬†


My One Year Anniversary, Part II

July marks my one year anniversary of being in Raleigh, so I’ve decided it’s a perfect time to review the past year.¬†For Part I, click here!


  • Took the most amazing cruise to the Bahamas I could possibly have imagined. Four of us spent five days in a lounging by the pool; bonding in our tiny interior room; getting on-stage in front of 200+ people; exploring the Bahamas; and drinking from our secret alcohol stash. What I never would have imagined was that the best part of it all would be coming away with amazing new friends.¬†
  • Had an article published on SourceCon, a well-known recruiting resource
  • Organized a wine class and tasting with the blog girls


  • Celebrated the six month anniversary of The Raleigh Forum with a happy hour
  • Kicked off my Cristina Chats interview series with an interview with myself!
  • Took another trip to DC and spent two days at the LivingSocial office. It was the first time I met my coworkers in the recruiting department face-to-face
  • Began the process of finding a roommate. Ended up with a few friends and an awesome roommate!
  • Began packing up my first Raleigh apartment
  • Discovered the Wednesday night fajita, margarita, and comedy show special at Goodnights




And then there’s all the things I didn’t write about on the blog because they were private; seemed unimportant at the time; or weren’t measurable in one instance. I didn’t blog about meeting¬†Linnie or Sara D when I met both of them because I didn’t realize we would become good friends. I didn’t blog about all the knowledge I’ve gained in the recruiting field. Or some of the crazy fun times that aren’t suited for a public blog {before you go getting any ideas, I never do anything too bad!}. Or some of the stresses that come with running a business, especially at age 22.

Having a blog is like having an online scrapbook of my life that I can refer to to¬†reminisce, remind myself of what I’ve learned; and look over inspirational mementos. Although it’s certainly not an all-encompassing representation of my life, it’s a piece of my everyday life that I love having!

My One Year Anniversary, Part I

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I randomly thought about my Tuscan zucchini pasta casserole and realized I came up with the recipe almost a year ago. It got me thinking about how we measure time. Do we measure our time in recipes, memories, and friendships? Maybe lifestyle changes {like going gluten-free}, blogiversaries, relationship anniversaries, or moving dates.

I think we measure time in all of the these ways, but maybe some hold more significance for each of us than others do.

This July is my one year anniversary of moving to Raleigh. I graduated from George Washington in May of 2011 and stuck around DC for two months, living up my last days as a college student and DC resident. After an amazing trip to Norway to visit family, I hauled all my earthly belongings out of storage and moved into a one bedroom apartment near downtown Raleigh. This literal and symbolic move marked the beginning of a new chapter of my life {pardon the cheesiness} and one of the craziest, most intense years of my life.

Like the new year, one year anniversaries are the perfect time to reflect on what has happened in the past year and think about what the next year holds.

No words will do justice to the past year and no blog post can completely encompass all the emotions, but here are some highlights {thank goodness I have a blog to document all these memories!}:


  • Celebrating my first birthday as a college graduate with best friends in Raleigh {they can’t make it this year unfortunately}
  • Buying Pearl, the first car I’ve ever owned by myself {she’s doing well}
  • Forming Roman Co, LLC, the company my sister and I co-own and realizing that the dream of a coworking space was becoming real!
  • Switching over from research to recruiting at LivingSocial
  • Getting a once-a-week babysitting job with two cute kids {I still babysit them!}
  • Joining the YMCA {a year later I still go regularly!}
  • Attending my first official Change the Triangle event at the Food Bank {I’m now the head of the Membership Committee}






  • Recorded a rap music video, called #TRFLovesIt for The Raleigh Forum¬†
  • Flew to NYC for Christmas
  • Went “skiing” {aka sitting in a ski lodge} with our stepdad and had the best time
  • Hosted a killer new years party
  • Held A Night in Raleighwood {co-sponsored by Yelp!} at our office
To be continued…

A Day in Lafayette Village

My family from Norway¬†is in town for a few days, which meant I had to buckle down and do work on Saturday. Though I’m a Starbucks fiend, I decided to check out Jubala Village Coffee in Lafayette Village, which is a cute European style village in North Raleigh.¬†I don’t remember the first time I found out about the village,¬†but I know it was online.

Jubala was so cute! I loved the atmosphere and the warm but chic decor. It was pretty quiet most of the afternoon, but around 4pm, it got a bit busier. The girls next to me were chatting about weddings and the people across the way were playing board games. All in all, a fun vibe but quiet enough that one can be productive.

The service was fine but didn’t blow me away. I ordered an iced latte with vanilla and almond flavoring, but it was a bit too sweet for me, even though I asked for light syrup.

I would definitely go back. It’s a bit of a hike for me, so I would only go back to work for several hours. I plan to order a plain iced coffee next time!

After I finished my work, I stepped outside for a quick tour of the rest of the village. Unfortunately, most of the stores closed at 5pm on Sunday and I finished right at 5!

I realized I had heard of a few of the merchants but didn’t connect all the dots until I spent an afternoon wandering around!

  • Vinos Finos: They tweeted me awhile back; still need to check out their free wine tastings on Tuesdays and Saturdays!
  • Savory Spice Shop: I also found out about them on Twitter¬†and added it to my “To Try” list on Foursquare! I didn’t get a chance to go in but I will next time.
  • Mavalios: I hadn’t heard of this tea cafe and gift shop, but I peeked through the window and it looks so cute!
  • Henry’s Gelato: Gelato. Enough said.

I encourage you to spend an afternoon at Lafayette Village {let me know if you need a buddy!}. Follow them on Twitter and check out their event calendar.

I also fortuantely/unfortunately discovered that there is a TJ Maxx nearby. I’m a little Maxxinista so I was in budget heaven ūüôā

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

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Hope your day is filled with fun, friends, fireworks, grilling, and maybe a few adult beverages ūüôā Here are a few ideas of things to do if you haven’t decided yet:

P.S. Fourth of July means ten days until my birthday!

A Fun Foodie Weekend

Note: Reposted in full because WordPress seems to be having some issues this morning! 

Happy Monday! I’ve been feeling less than 100% at work recently, so I’m determined to make this week uber-productive. That means cutting back on mindless internet surfing and checking my blog stats too often; packing healthy, simple lunches; slowly drinking my home-brewed coffee; and knowing that I’ll feel best on Friday if I kicked butt at work all week! What are your goals for the week?

I had a fun combination weekend- part active, part relaxing- with tons of good food! On Friday evening, I braved the rain and met a few girls out at Calavera for a drink. It’s definitely becoming one of my favorite places, even though I can’t really eat the empanadas. My friend saw my spicy pineapple margarita pin on Pinterest and wanted to check it out!

Orderd a mojito this time around

After one drink, we headed to Chuck’s, which is one of Ashley Christensen’s restaurants. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it very much. How exciting can burgers be? But everything changed when my friend asked if they could spike our root beer floats. After contemplating with the other staff members, our waitress decided dark rum would be best and let me tell you- make one immediately! For my burger, I chose the small Big House {oxymoron?}:

Amazing! I didn’t end up eating the sorghum-dijon but I did add a ton of ketchup to my burger ūüôā For my french fries, I chose malted vinegar aioli {SO good!}, roasted garlic aioli {also good}, and sampled my friend’s buttermilk herb dressing {just ranch; also very good}.

Next time I’m planning to be adventurous and try the Dirty South burger:

So apparently the answer to my question of how good can a burger be is VERY good! I loved the atmosphere, the service, and everything I ate, so I would definitely go back again.

The rest of the night consisted of a drink at the Hive {my friend introduced me to cucumber vodka + water} and a rap show at Kings. We may or may not have spent the evening hanging out backstage and buying PBRs for one of the rapper’s parents. Haha!

On Saturday, I played a long session of tennis. When I saw my big toe poking through the front of my sneakers, I decided it was finally time to get some new shoes, so I headed to Dick’s for sneakers, tennis ball shorts, and a new racket grip.

On Saturday night, I headed over to Comedy Worx with a group of friends for the late night improv show. It’s always a super fun time and a great alternative to heading straight to the bars. I was surprised by how appropriate Saturday’s crowd was- it usually gets pretty raunchy!

On Sunday I met up with a group of girls for a trip to Poole’s, another Ashley Christensen restaurant and a Raleigh institution. Despite talking about the restaurant several times on here, I had never actually been! It’s quite an experience- I got in line outside the restaurant at 10:45 since the doors open at 11. I had a thermos of coffee and a novel to keep me company, but the time went by quickly. Right at 11, the doors opened and everyone tumbled inside.

All the newbies were confused when we saw a ton of people hovering around a blackboard snapping cell phone pictures. Turns out, that’s the only place where the menu is posted, so people take pictures to avoid having to stand and look at the menu. Who knew!

I was planning on ordering the eggs benedict but the waitress told us about the shrimp and grits at the last minute, so I went for those. Very good!

Overall, I liked Poole’s. We waited awhile for our food, but I was prepared for that. It was a bit dark inside, but that didn’t bother me too much. Luckily we were seated in the corner, because I think the middle of the restaurant may have been too loud for me.

I’m happy that I finally went and I would go back on a random weekend or special occasion.

I finished off my weekend with a round of kickball practice, grilling, pool time, and watching Gattaca in my sweats!

creative {romantic & friend} date ideas, part ii

for part i of creative {romantic & friend} date ideas, click here!

rent sunfish sailboats at lake crabtree

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bring wine and cheese and watch planes from the observation deck at the rdu airport

listen to live music:

jazz at koka booth amphitheater on wednesday evenings

sunday evenings at fred fletcher

music on the porch at carolina theater on friday evenings

seaboard station on friday evenings

*visit the morehead planetarium and science center in chapel hill

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*take a trip to the new wing of the museum of natural sciences

go to an amusement park [carowinds or king’s dominion are manageable from raleigh]

hike at umstead or pilot mountain

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*go rollerskating at jellybeans

ice skate at the raleigh winterfest ice rink

tour the the jc raulston arboretum

do a wine tasting at a vineyard [try hinnant family vineyards]

take a daytrip to the beach

visit tucker lake

feed the ducks at shelley lake

watch an outdoor movie [go to the north carolina museum of art, the summer movie series on hillsborough st, or movies by moonlight at koka booth amphitheatre]

*peruse awesome clothes at thrift stores or vintage stores [check out father and sons]

*spend a rainy afternoon reading at barnes & noble or starbucks

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* = good rainy day activity!

What’s the best date you ever had? What other ideas do you have for a great date?¬†What is your favorite way to spend a day with friends?¬†

P.S. My birthday is a month from today! See it on my calendar ūüôā

week recap & a solo saturday

This Week

  • Doubles tennis
  • Sushi from Sushi Tsune at Lake Johnson
  • Restaurant Week at Chamas in Durham {I got too full and ¬†I didn’t like the meat as much as I thought I would}
  • Boylan Bridge Brewpub with friends
  • Ladies luncheon with the¬†Downtown Raleigh Alliance
  • First kickball game {only made it to the bar afterward because I have a monthly meeting that conflicts! But my team won!}
  • Lady Antebellum & Darius Rucker concert

Solo Saturday

I was busy every night this week with friends, so I was fine spending this morning alone. Being alone is only lonely for me if I want¬†or need to be with people; otherwise, it’s calming and energizing.

I started off the day by packing a gluten-free sandwich, grabbing a Starbucks Iced Coffee, and hitting a toning class at the gym. It was only 30 minutes, but I definitely felt all the exercises. I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow! Elisabeth was in the class too!

Then I hit up Under the Sea, a 3D IMAX documentary I’ve been trying to catch- or as I like to say, “I’ve been ‘diving’ to ‘sea’ it.” Horrible puns, I know! I asked the guy at the front desk not to judge me for coming to a movie alone! Haha. Anyway, the movie did not live up to my expectations- Jim Carrey was the narrator, so it started off on the wrong foot because he irritates me! Then I had to close my eyes during the long section on sea snakes and I was super jumpy when they kept showing sea animals snapping up their prey. 3D movies can be very jarring…so I left. The five-year-old kids in there were apparently more brave than me ūüôā

Since I was already downtown, I decided to jump over to the farmers’ market because it was Crawfish Day {remember seeing that on my new calendar?}. I grabbed a pound of live crawfish and then entered the main section. I ended up with a ton of stuff for under $10: several peaches; a tomato; a Pattypan squash {had never heard of it before; it’s also called a sunburst squash}; an Oriental squash; day-old zucchini for $.50 per pound; a bundle of sorrel; a head of cabbage; and a head of elephant garlic. I realized I forgot to pay for the garlic, so I walked back to the booth and the guy ended up upgrading me from a big $3 head of garlic to a ginormous $5 head for my honesty!

I always forget how much I love the experience of going to farmers’ markets- without sounding too hippie and locavore-esque, it’s really neat to form a bond with the person who is producing your food.

From left: elephant garlic; got all that squash & zucchini for $.70; pretty flowers I didn’t buy; and Pattypan and Oriental squashes

As I wrote this blog post, my live crawfish were moving around on my dining room table- such a disturbing noise! I had to put them into the fridge immediately ūüôā

Off to Richmond now for Sara D‘s birthday yard party/sleepover/brunch ūüôā

P.S. You can easily see my Instagram pictures over at Instagrid!

the scintillating simplicity calendar

Remember when I said that I’m always on the lookout for exciting events in the Triangle? When I find them, the first thing I do is add them to my Google calendar so I won’t forget about them! I also have my multiple calendars synced to my phone so that I can see my schedule by the day, week, month, or as an agenda view.

Given how important my Google calendars are for organizing my life and contributing to my fun, I thought I’d create a Scintillating Simplicity calendar where I can add interesting local events for you all to see!

On the calendar you’ll find a mix of cultural, foodie, educational, and pure fun events that caught my eye. Inclusion on the calendar doesn’t necessarily mean I will be attending but feel free to contact me if you are going to an event and want a partner-in-crime!

Likewise, please email me at if you know of an interesting event that is happening in the area!

P.S. Thank you to Katherine of Caroline Gypsy for inspiring this idea! Check out her calendar on the right sidebar of her blog.

creative {romantic & friend} date ideas

I’m always looking for fun, new things to do- both on dates and with friends, so I assume my friends and readers are too! It’s easy to get stuck in a rut [dinner and a movie anyone?], but I always find it enjoyable to branch out, discover new things in my city, and have funny stories to share!

Thank you to Sara Rose for helping me compile this list! 

visit the asheboro zoo

do go-karts, putt putt, laser tag, and/or bumper boats at frankie’s fun park

*visit the museum of life and science

take a segway tour [check out triangle glides]

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try stand-up paddleboarding [check out triangle glides at lake johnson or lake wheeler or ride stride at falls lake]

take a ghost tour [check out tobacco road ghost tours]

go berry picking or apple picking [depending on the season]

visit a corn maze and go on a hayride

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*watch a movie in imax 3d or at blue ridge 14, the $2 movie theatre

rent paddle boats at pullen park [bonus- they have a few gluten-free options at the pullen place cafe!]

attend a hurricanes hockey games or a durham bulls baseball game

go for bike ride and picnic on the capital area greenway trail system or at the raleigh rose garden

*go bowling [try sparians bowling boutique and bistro for a classy date or amf for a more casual experience]

play tennis

fly a kite

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*attend a comedy show [go to goodnights on wednesdays to get a free ticket with the purchase of dinner. or try improv at comedy worx]

take a trip to the¬†farmers’ market¬†[look here for a calendar of events]

attend an event at lafayette village, a cute european style village in raleigh

canoe or kayak at lake johnson

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take coffee and bagels (gluten-free of course) and eat them on the rocking chairs at lake johnson

sit on the deck at boylan bridge brewpub to watch the sunset

* = good rainy day activity!

What’s the best date you ever had? What other ideas do you have for a great date?¬†What is your favorite way to spend a day with friends?¬†