My Birthday Weekend!

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In other news, it’s my birthday weekend! Last year’s birthday was filled with daisies, a new car, a visit from my mom, and a great celebration with local and visiting friends.

This year I’m having a pretty low-key celebration with friends. The weekend includes a dip party, a day by the pool, a girls night out, gluten-free treats, and birthday freebies.

Stay tuned for all the details 🙂


Birthday Freebies

On our birthdays, society rewards us for basically accomplishing nothing except making it to another year. One such benefit is companies giving us free things and I plan to milk it for all its worth this year. Here’s what I plan to enjoy on and around my birthday:

  • Free coffee from Starbucks [must have the Gold Card]
  • Free ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s [must be a member of Chunk Spelunker club]
  • Free Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity breakfast from IHOP [must be part of the Pancake Revolution club]
  • Free smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe [must sign up for TropiDeals]
  • Free medium coffee from Dunkin Donuts [must sign up for DD Perks Rewards. And let’s be real, I’ll need two coffees on my birthday!]
  • Free dessert fondue for two at Melting Pot [must sign up for Club Fondue]
  • Free car wash from Carolina Auto Spa [sign up here]
  • Free bottle of wine from Irregardless Cafe [sign up here]
  • A surprise from Red Hot & Blue [must join the RHB Club]
  • Free shots from anyone I can convince to buy them…
  • [Added] 2 free tickets to Goodnights Comedy Club [once you join the mailing list]
  • [Added] Free entree from Rocky Top Hospitality [includes Draft on Glenwood; sign up here]

For more free birthday stuff, check out Active Rain, here, Frugal Living, and

Where else can you get free stuff on your birthday?! Anyone else as “opportunistic” [read: cheap] as I am?

P.S. For an interesting discussion at “for all its worth” vs “for all it’s worth,” check out Grammar Girl. Clearly I use the term “interesting” loosely 🙂

Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

highlights of the week

Finishing up taxes

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In spite of the fact that I hate managing financials {or I suppose because I hate managing financials} I felt incredibly empowered going through the process, learning about income and deductions, and mailing off my forms.

Blog group potluck

The blog girls and I are having a group potluck on Thursday! Laura of Taking Back My Twenties graciously offered to host, so we’re having the potluck in her chic Durham apartment {I know what it looks like from her blog, of course!}. The theme is Around the World, so I’m excited to see what a group that includes a few food bloggers can come up with!

My stepdad’s birthday

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 Happy happy birthday to the greatest stepdad ever! Thanks for helping us with taxes, storing our random belongings, laughing at our inappropriate jokes, and listening  to the painfully awful songs we create for you {good times were had by all, by all by all by all….}

Home decor

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I’m in the home stretch of my self-prescribed home decorating deadline. I made some good progress this week, including hanging corkboards in the kitchen for recipe inspiration; revamping some black and silver end tables {one will go in the entryway for keys, one will stay by the couches as an end table}; painting hooks and a corkboard to hang by the front door; and trying to figure out how to hang napkins as decor on the dining room wall.

Dad visiting

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My dad is coming from the faraway land of Costa Rica to visit for the weekend! We have big plans, like going to a Durham Bulls game, picking up a housewarming plan for me at the farmers’ market, brunching, showing off our office, and lots more 🙂

woohoo wednesday

Remember when I complained about Wednesdays? And plotted a way to make myself look forward to Wednesdays? Found it!

Yesterday I woke up on time, sipped homemade butter rum iced coffee from Cimos {the gift store on the corner of Hargett and Wilmington}, had a productive day at work, and had a great day with the kids I babysit {the nice weather allowed for fun at a nearby park!}. Then came the extra fun stuff:

I did the Dos Taquitos weekly Margarita Run, which is a 3 mile run through downtown and historic Oakwood. The boys ran faster than me, so I put in my headphones and chugged along by myself! Afterward, the restaurant offers cheap margaritas and an unlimited taco bar for $5, but I didn’t indulge because I was going to…

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Charlie Goodnights Restaurant & Comedy Show for Heather’s birthday! She had a big, diverse group of fun friends there; we all indulged in pitchers of margaritas and $10 fajitas {I had splendid leftovers for lunch today}! 

 And guess what? You get free admission to the stand-up comedy show if you buy dinner. Such a good deal! We “woohooed” our way through some moderately offensive comedy- apparently one of the comedians was in Revenge of the Nerds and has opened for Chris Rock {between you and me, he was my least favorite- but still pretty cool!}. 

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And because I refuse to drink and drive, I got a ride home from a sober comrade and walked back to my car {iced coffee in hand} this morning 🙂

Happy Wednesday indeed! 

homemade hand scrubs: pep talk + chill pill

For my sister’s birthday present, I put together several small gifts, including: spice mixes; homemade hand scrubs; apple cider for our K cup machine at work; a display of postcards from the cities we’ve visited recently; a photo book of awkward pictures of me {to make her laugh!}; and a few other small things.

I wanted to share the “recipe” for the easy homemade hand scrubs, which are an affordable gift with a personal touch.

Homemade Hand Scrubs

  • One part brown sugar
  • One part white sugar
  • One part salt
  • Enough olive oil to moisten all other ingredients
  • Several drops of essential oils

Combine the above in a Mason jar and tie with a pretty ribbon 🙂

For the essential oils, I used Chill Pill {lavender + Roman chamomile}. For an invigorating scent, I used Pep Talk {peppermint + sweet orange}.

Chill Pill & Pep Talk from Whole Foods by AuraCacia

Tags for the scrubs. Gotta love that Roman chamomile 🙂

trip to hinnant family vineyards

I am finally getting around to posting some long overdue photos. On my sister’s birthday, part of her surprise scavenger hunt was a trip to a vineyard in Pine Level, North Carolina called Hinnant Family Vineyards. We had a blast sampling the muscadine wines {which I recently discovered are my favorite kind of grape!} for only $5. And we got wine glasses to take home- I added mine to my growing collection {which includes Three Foxes in Delaplane, Virginia and Dennis Vineyards in Albemarle, North Carolina}.

Interestingly, there is a small graveyard across from the winery

Welcome to the vineyard!

Wine glass display

Hinnant wine glasses

My sister sipping her wine. Love that ring (it's from our grandmother)

Cristina’s back with a brand new track…

Just kidding! Well, kind of. I actually am working on track for a Raleigh Forum marketing video! You will die of glee when you see the final product; it is epic (and winning).

Lots has happened since my last real blog post!

  • My sister’s birthday week/weekend. Girls’ dinner at Buku; mini scavenger hunt with gifts; wine tasting at Hinnant Family Vineyards; brunch at Irregardless; a night out at Hibernian; and a bonfire. There were several unexpected speed bumps, but all in all, a hilarious, fun-filled weekend with friends.
  • Hours of planning and shooting for our video, including a brainstorming session at Boylan Bridge (see pic below).
  • Getting sick yet again- Tylenol PM and DayQuil helped a lot!
  • Continuing to read the blogs of new “blog friends.” See the “Local Bloggers” list on the right hand side of my blog!
  • Arranging new events at The Raleigh Forum
  • Spotting Colin Firth on Fayetteville St, where he’s filming a dark comedy with Emily Blunt

Beautiful view from Boylan Bridge

goal check-in + tad + this day last year

Whew, that’s a lot to cover in one blog post, huh? Here we go!

My goals for the week were:

  • At least one yoga or Pilates class– Didn’t manage this (too busy playing tennis!)
  • Two weight-lifting sessions– Did one at-home session
  • Continuing working on a certain someone’s birthday present (can’t use the actual verb because I don’t want to give it away- could be make, order, buy, rent…)– Woot woot
  • Set up an official referral program for The Raleigh Forum– In progress
  • Bring one more person into the bloggers’ group– More like five or six! So many people have sent me names of awesome local female bloggers!
  • Make one new soup recipe– I tried two! I made roasted pepper potato soup and a spiced tomato potato soup
If you’ve been following my blog since, say, October 12, 2010, you might recall Three A Day (TAD). This was my easy-to-remember phrase for writing down three things each day that I was thankful for. I thought it was a good idea to bring it back given my challenge for next week!

Yesterday’s TAD:
  • Having a dog whisperer for a sister! I was frustrated about Maddie’s behavior, but my sister showed me the benefits of a gentle leader (a miracle worker), as well as some easy tricks for making her tune into me and respond to my commands.
  • Having a nice, spacious apartment. I was overwhelmed by the amount of dishes and cleaning I had to do, but then I reminded myself that not everyone has a kitchen to clean (sorry for being so cheesy).
  • Having the support of an incredible organization like the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, who hosted an event at The Raleigh Forum yesterday. We have over 50 individuals attend, and I would say that it was a stellar success!
This Day Last Year: I was in the midst of the fall of my senior year and actively listing TADs each day! In my post, I recapped the day before, which included a date with one of my (still) best friends, a day of babysitting the baby that I still love and miss, and a lovely note from a GW Bites customer. That was an exciting fall because I had just begun GW Bites!


This blog title is dedicated to my friend Sarah- every time I hear a techno beat on the radio, I think of her grinning and dancing along to the music. Her upbeat, contagious happiness- especially while dancing to a great beat-  inspires me to put on some Afrojack, dance like a maniac, and  let loose every once in awhile.

What other music is on my mind? “Cheers (Drink to That)” by Rhianna. Cheers to the freakin’ weekendddd! I’m driving back up to DC this weekend to celebrate my friend’s birthday. I haven’t been going out a lot but I’m looking forward to a carefree night out in the city with the girls. We always have a blast, make tons of funny memories, have a slumber party  (yup, 22 year old girls still do that), and go to brunch the next day. I have no doubt that this weekend won’t break that pattern. And we may or may not have a birthday surprise in store for the birthday girl. Just sayin’….

This week in retrospect:

  • New work project which calls for lots of time on Twitter. Score!
  • Finally trying out Dos Taquitos for a family dinner. Alas, they don’t serve fajitas but I got delicious steak tacos and a icy margarita
  • Bed at 8pm one night- I was exhausted!
  • A failed attempt at playing tennis- silly rain
  • Sending out lots of press releases for The Forum. It’s a good skill to have for the future! It’s interesting to angle each email depending on the media outlet. For example, for magazines like Carolina Woman and Skirt!, the “young sister entrepreneurs” angle seems to be the most relevant.
  • Missed PechaKucha Night unfortunately; I really wanted to see Morgan Siem‘s talk about supporting the LGBT community, especially in light of the recent decision of the NC Senate to put the issue of a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage to voters.