headed home to the land of the pines

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Headed back home today. Let’s hope the weather is better on the road trip home than it was on the way here (torrential downpours and quarter sized hail!). Have a great Sunday!

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see you in a few hours, dc!

Photo credit

This morning I read one of Kaileen Elise’s Creative Weekend To Do Lists and felt inspired to write my own!

I’m headed up to DC around lunchtime today. Here’s what’s in store {subject to change based on the whims of three twenty-something girls!}:

  • Solo road trip with Boyfriend, Give Your Heart a Break, and Back in Time. And probably Ridin’ Solo, since it’s fitting
  • Pit stops for coffee and bubble gum {gotta have bubble gum on road trips!}
  • Jazz in the Garden with sangria
  • A night out at the Bottom Line, one of our favorite college bars
  • Brunch, most likely with bottomless mimosas
  • Tons of picture taking- with my SLR and Instagram
  • Dressing up in my city clothes 🙂
  • Wandering through different DC neighborhoods
  • Nostalgic reminiscing about our amazing DC college days
  • Catching up for hours with two of my best friends

“dc chillin…floor to the ceiling”

What a fantastic trip to DC- it was filled with two days at the office getting to know my new coworkers and seeing my old team and then two days of traipsing around the city with two of my best friends. We laughed a ton, ate obscene amounts of food {like Nooshi, brunch, and Mexican} and coffee, wandered around DC, and generally had a blast.

More updates to come once I’m done catching up from four days out of The Raleigh Forum office 🙂

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P.S. Traipse: Walk or move wearily or reluctantly or walk about casually or needlessly. I mean it in the second way 🙂

P.P.S. Did you get the blog title? It’s from Chillin by Wale!

Source: flickr.com via Aaron on Pinterest

the perfect escape

On Saturday afternoon, I realized I had a long weekend ahead of me with no concrete plans. I tossed around a few ideas: staying at home and having a self-indulgent pampering weekend, go on a tubing trip with a few friends, host a cook out, drive to the mountains for a solo retreat. But I decided to text a friend who still lives in DC and see if I could make a spontaneous road trip up there. Ah, the beauty of having a car!

Our first text was at 3pm and at 7pm- after a vigorous game of tennis (and a shower, of course!), I hopped in the car with my “niece” (my sister’s dog). It ended up being the perfect escape that I needed- taking a break from Raleigh and a break from work.

  • Relaxing road trip blasting country and top 40. Nothing clears the mind like driving with the windows down and the heat up (it was chilly!) with beautiful scenery and the occasional smell of campfires
  • Lounging on Saturday night
  • Early morning yoga class (which was a hilarious disaster- it was just me, my friend, and her sister. It was my friend’s first time and halfway through the class, my toe started bleeding! Poor instructor)
  • Bottomless mimosa brunch at Daily Grill on Sunday. I didn’t partake, because I don’t like how unproductive I feel when I drink even one mimosa in the morning! But the buffet brunch was amazinggg.
  • Pumpkin spice coffee
  • Taking the pup on a walk in the Palisades by Georgetown
  • Changing back into sweats to watch 2012 (eek!)
  • Margs and fajitas at Los Cuates in Georgetown
  • A fun night out at Dupont bars
  • Driving my friend to work in downtown DC and grabbing Starbucks
  • Meeting back up with her for lunch at our favorite restaurant, Nooshi.

It’s a good thing my other friend doesn’t read my blog because she’d be upset that we did all her favorite things haha.

All in all, a splendid and well-timed mini trip that left me refreshed and energized for the week.

raleigh- reflecting on my decision to return to my homeland!

If you had asked me freshman year- or even junior year- if I would ever move back to North Carolina, I would- and did- laugh. “Absolutely not,” I would say. To me, North Carolina was just an incidental stop- albeit an eighteen year stop- on my way to bigger and better things. Hence my decision to attend The George Washington University in Washington, DC-  a city that is both geographically and culturally between the North and the South.

But here I stand (while, I’m technically lying in bed) a college graduate and in 51 short days, I’ll be moved into an adorable one bedroom apartment near downtown Raleigh, conveniently located approximately .01 miles from my big sister’s condo.

After taking a 4 year break from the Triangle, I realize it really does have it all.

I can drive with the windows down and the radio blasting. The baristas at Starbucks know my order. Strangers in the photo store start conversations about Habitat for Humanity. The volunteer scene is bumpin’ (yeahhh Change the Triangle). Chamber of Commerce staff members take the time to provide an in-depth and personalized response to my form email inquiry. The weather is stunningly beautiful the majority of the time. People are active- hiking, biking, running, etc. Smoking is banned from bars and restaurants. There are several cool co-working spaces. It was named #3 on Best Places to Launch [a business] in 2009 and #8 on Best Cities for Recent College Grads. There is a kitchen incubator nearby (in Durham). Interesting places like CAM Raleigh open everyday. My sister is a hop, skip, and a 30 second drive away. There are hundreds of off-the-beaten path day trips accessible from Raleigh-Durham [I bought that book for my sister and plan to make good use of it]. The mountains and the beach are both within several hours’ drive. There are several lakes nearby, including Kerr, Jordan, and Lake Johnson. Live music events like Thursdays at North Hills and Fridays at Seaboard Station fill the summer. Cool concerts come to the Lincoln Theater, the Raleigh Amphitheater, and Time Warner Pavillon all the time. Events like First Friday, Cuegrass, and the St. Patty’s Day Parade are a nearly everyday occurrence. LivingSocial has an awesome selection of local deals here. Hardware store employees bring treats for your dogs. People spend summer nights grilling and playing corn-hole in their yards. It’s perfectly acceptable to go out at night in Rainbow flip flops. The rent is absurdly affordable. Trader Joe’s has established stores in the area. Triangle Sports Club has fun intramural leagues for young professionals. Meetup groups are active and many.

It’s the best of both worlds- a big city with a small town feel. Cultural events are incredibly accessible, but there is still a warm “down home” feeling when you walk down the street. I’m proud to call myself a [future] Raleigh resident.

the past week: cherry blossoms, life plans, & amazing visits!

Oh my gosh, three whole days without blogging- this is unprecedented! 🙂

Recap of the past week:

  • Wine night with a friend…we had so much to catch up on that we wrote out a post-it note with a “to talk about” list!
  • Delivery, couch, and Bethenny Ever After night with a different friend
  • Several great runs throughout DC
  • Am officially writing a guest post for BGSKCollege
  • Found out on Wednesday at 4pm that I had an exam on Thursday at 9:35am. Whoops!
  • Elaborate home-cooked meal for a friend
  • Discovered The Cookery, a kitchen incubator in Durham, NC! Perhaps it will be the new home of GW Bites (soon to be NCSU Bites as well?) come fall.
  • Put my name on a waiting list for an apartment in Raleigh
  • Am in the process of launching Harmonized Living
  • Weekend with my sister and her friend [Cherry Blossoms, brunch at Luna in Dupont, roof time, MK&A movie night haha, GW regatta at the Waterfront, Nooshi for dinner]. It was great introducing my sister’s friend to the obligatory DC things, but I think we all enjoyed our chill lounging time the most!

After writing all of this, I realized that I never announced my final post-grad plans. I will officially (well, almost officially?) be moving to Raleigh to work virtually and pursue my ventures on the side.

the weekend in review

Friday
  • Worked all day
  • Went to U St with a friend- We ate at Dukem, which is probably the most popular Ethiopian restaurant on U St. We left Foggy Bottom at 7:30 and got home just before midnight! It was one of those glorious hours-long dinners- I confirmed with a guy friend that males do not do this; I told him he was missing out

Saturday

  • Enjoyed the amazing DC weather during a short walk
  • Loaded up on Starbucks coffee
  • Stopped by Borders- it’s going out of business, so I bought a soup cookbook and a present for my sister
  • Headed to the photo lab- made two prints in record time [though still 3 hours]
  • Pasta with anchovies and walnuts
  • Babysat  for an adorable 11-month-old
  • Had a fun night out in Georgetown

Sunday

  • Brunch with a friend [parmesan garlic baguette with Irish butter, Jarlsberg cheese, scrambled eggs, fake meat sausage, navel oranges, and mocha mint coffee- yum!]
  • TWO movies for free (thanks to LivingSocial, Fandango, and the people who purchased off my link!)- Take Me Home Tonight [intriguing but odd] and The Adjustment Bureau [incredible! my new favorite movie!]
  • Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Starbucks
  • Quick snack date with a friend
  • Work session at Illy with a different friend [we’re working on a special project!]

TAD & Destress Dinner & Frugality

TAD

  • Making delicious pumpkin pancakes
  • Studying in Illy with friends…then bumping into other people I knew…then bumping into even more people I knew! It seems to be the reunion spot for people interested in social enterprise.
  • Getting dinner at Mei Wah (delicious!) with friends, then trekking to Dupont Circle for fro-yo. We made dinner a Destress Dinner, in typical Sunday night fashion. More below!

Frugal food discovery: My friends and I are obsessed with the “special sauce” at Mei-Wah. It’s served over tofu and costs $10.95. We asked our waitress if we could buy a large container of sauce, and she said it would be $2.50. A container of tofu is about $2 from the grocery store, bringing the grand total of home-made tofu with special sauce to $5.50, or about $2.25 a serving. Total saved: $5.45! Sweet.

Fun Sunday tradition: A friend and I began “Destress Dinners” our sophomore year. We would order in Mei Wah or make tofu stir fry, sit in a circle on the floor, and chat. That alone made it destressing, but we added an extra component- every person shares one thing they’re stressed about for the week and then one (or more! thing(s) they’re excited about for the week. It’s a great ritual with close friends because it allows you to vent but then go into the week with a positive attitude.

A lesson learned: This is best done in a small group of friends that you are very comfortable with. Sometimes your stressors are very personal, and you might not want to open up to people you aren’t close to. Also, a large group gets easily distracted, people get impatient, etc.

Enjoy!