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 🙂


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 🙂

an out-of-town birthday shindig

I know who is planning and executing my next party: Sara D! I should have known that the girl with the killer design taste would be able to put together an adorable party.

On Saturday afternoon, my sister, our friend, and I drove up to Richmond for Sara’s yard party/sleepover/brunch. The first thing that greeted us? A giant snake on the front porch. Three heart attacks later, we finally made it inside to meet Sara’s family!

We had an absolute blast with everyone! Highlights included:

  • A full dessert bar, which included Pinterest-inspired strawberry shortcake skewers
  • An amazing buffet, which included authentic Lebanese food from one of the family friends
  • A stellar view of a lake from the huge back porch
  • Late night karaoke, which included Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Buffett, and Queen {though watching the video of me karaoking was a low point, not a highlight haha!}
  • Losing at cornhole and ladder golf
  • Shotgunning beers at 2am with friends & Sara D’s dad
  • Sleeping in a Wizard of Oz decorated room with Linnie
  • Exchanging crazy cruise stories over breakfast the next day
  • Chatting with the family in the big kitchen after breakfast as we dried dishes
  • And of course- celebrating Sara D’s birthday!!

Cute welcome table. Guests were encouraged to sign the big white picture frame and drop cards in the big vase
Pretty birthday flowers. So much pink 🙂
Dessert bar! Sara encouraged people to grab dessert first {because life is short…}
A very important part of any party! Linnie and I enjoyed tequila + lemonade {cheap person’s margarita!}
Rock candy! So old-school; I love it {ignore the chipped nail haha}
Beautiful lake in the backyard! Love the bench by the water

It’s exciting to meet the family of a new friend. I always feel like it gives me insight into the person! Sara’s family was so welcoming and fun- we compared the experience to our Hollymead Farm visit. Yet another reminder to myself that I might ultimately love to move further out of a city and host huge fun shindigs!

Thank you to Sara and her family for the great time!

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? 

see you in a few hours, dc!

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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

kindred spirits

“Kindred spirits are people that you connect with on a deeper level than just basic intellectual and emotional interaction. They are one who you have a unique spiritual connection with. That feeling that somehow you must have known them in a previous life and you’ve finally reunited.” —Source

“Many times in life we meet these people, and often we don’t know them at all but have this deep connection that cannot be explained.” –Source

I remember the first time I heard the term “kindred spirit” in Anne of Green Gables. Since then, I’ve had the amazing fortune to have several kindred spirits enter my life.

Usually it doesn’t make much sense. Enter Shelly, also known as Wifey for five years running [we were married on Facebook back when marrying your best friend was the thing to do]. She’s short and Asian, I’m tall and white. She likes judo, motorcyles, and carrying change in her pocket like a dude [that would be her phrase, not mine!]. I like sundresses, volunteering, and tennis.

But it just fits. From the first time we got breakfast at IHOP [which took a lot of persistence on her part], we were off and running. We both liked eating, going to thrift stores, and country concerts. We bonded over our families and our shared homeschooling experiences. But even without those shared interests and experiences, I have a feeling that she would still be my kindred spirit.

And five years later, no matter how much time has passed between seeing each other, it feels like none at all.

Or enter Sue and Larry. They’re in their 60s and live in rural North Carolina. I’m 22 and live near downtown Raleigh. We all met on a moderately trashy Carnival Cruise of all places. But again, it just fits. When we were at Hollymead Farm, we laughed for hours on end but engaged in countless meaningful conversations too. It just flowed, like we had all known each other for years. Which brings me to my sentiment on kindred spirits:

Have you ever felt like you just knew someone was your kindred spirit?

hollymead memories

Photo credit: Sue
  • Playing a G rated Never Have I Ever during lunch on the patio
  • Larry jokingly saying “How many hussies does it take to load a dishwasher?” when we all insisted on helping out in the kitchen
  • Learning the expression “Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?” (it’s like “Is the Queen English?”)
  • I coyly commented that it was rare for a group of twenty-somethings to befriend a group of thirty-somethings. Larry replied “We have a phrase in the business world. Don’t bullshit a bullshitter!”
  • Singing “Sue and Larry had a farm” with multiple verses
  • Seeing the wine making room
  • Joking about hiding their special bottle of wine and pretending like we drank it!
  • Naming our group The Real Hussies of Hollymead
  • Teaching current lingo like #winning, legitimately, literally, and epic 
Also, this is what Larry’s status said after we left: 

Just had a great weekend with the “four hussies” we met on the Bahamas cruise this past February. Wonderful young women with wit, wisdom and big hearts. Look forward to having them back after [our foreign exchange student] arrives so she can see the art of the possible in America’s youth.

part of day two at hollymead farm

On Saturday morning, we slept in and padded downstairs to find fresh baked zucchini and banana bread waiting for us! We all popped K Cups into the coffee machine and ate a long, luxurious breakfast outside on the patio overlooking the pool.

Then Larry took us through the hilly trails by the house on the Kabota, which is a kind of ATV/tractor. He went super fast, which resulted in tons of screaming from the girls! We dubbed it the Taylorsville Safari, but it felt more like a rollercoaster. Here I am driving the Kabota like a champ:

We then went to Walmart to stock up on supplies for the pool party later in the day. The best part of the trip: a little chihuahua was running around Walmart with no leash or owner in sight! We planned to start a website called (don’t steal it!).

Larry then took Colette and I down to the horse stable to turn manure (it has to be flipped periodically so that it decomposes properly). Good house guests always help with chores! But I didn’t think of it as a chore because I had a BLAST on the John Deere Tractor. They could barely get me off it! Larry made fun of me because I would raise the bucket and then accidentally flip it the wrong way so the manure dumped toward me instead of away! Luckily, I didn’t get any on me…

The stable is at the bottom of the hill and you can look past the horse pastures to the house. Such a shabby view, right? (Kidding!).

While Colette had her turn on the tractor, I snapped a few pictures:

This was the largest red hickory tree in North Carolina and the second largest in the country before a tornado hit it
Sue has a horse cart under there!
Horse stable
There were gorgeous flowers everywhere

This used to be a house but now it’s a little storage shed for the horse trailer. It’s over 100 years old, if I remember correctly

Stay tuned for the rest of Day #2 and all of Day #3!

intergenerational befriending

My sister and I were always raised to be very comfortable around people of all ages. This weekend and next weekend are perfect examples of that. On Sunday morning, I met up with the girls for brunch; I walked up and found them surrounded by an entire family, including three kids and their parents. We proceeded to chat with them for about half an hour as if we’d known them forever. Throughout brunch, multiple other sets of kids and their parents stopped by our table to see the dogs and chat with us.

And remember when I mentioned that we befriended a table of older folks on our cruise to the Bahamas? I said in my post that they invited us to their farm in NC. So next weekend, the cruise girls and I will heading out to a stunning farm in rural NC see our honorary parents! They’re throwing us a pool party and are inviting the rest of their rotary club 🙂 And a quote from our email exchange with them: “I’ll need a day to buy the beer, liquor and food before you decend upon us…” Haha! I love the word choice “descend.”

Anyway, what I love about my friends is that we can act silly and ridiculous, but everyone is so open to being in new circumstances and meeting new people. I’m not sure how many other 20-somethings would walk away from a Carnival cruise with 60 or 70 year old friends!

I credit my mom a lot for this mentality {at least for my sister and I!}. I used to walk up and find her engaged in conversation with total strangers. We even had a waiter friend at a local restaurant that we would visit regularly for over five years!

Remember- every good friend was once a stranger! Likewise, every stranger is a potential friend.

Do you befriend random people? What’s your most random story?

Source: via Ona on Pinterest

#ncmapinup event recap

When I was searching for a roommate on Craigslist, I ended up meeting a few great girls who didn’t end up becoming my roommate for one reason or another. So guess what? I turned them into friends! I realize it sounds very strange to most people, but I do have a history of making friends online 🙂

One girl I met works at the NC Museum of Art and she emailed me an invite to a Pinterest party at the museum. My first reaction was obviously “#Pinning!” {because I refuse to stop saying #Winning even though I know that ship has sailed}. My second reaction was to forward the invite along to a group of random girls in the area- turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was excited. My sister thought it was the nerdiest thing ever, but we ignored her 🙂

First stop: food obviously. We suspected that all the recipes were found on Pinterest. Such a cute set-up!
I’m not usually a fan of goat cheese but I loved these bacon and herb chevre pops! And they were the only gluten-free option so they were my go-to snack!

My beloved chevre pops with the other food in the background- strawberries and angel food shortcake with icing drizzle and ciabatta bread with roasted vegetable and white bean hummus. Since I couldn’t eat the shortcake, Sara and I tag-teamed the dessert- she ate the poundcake and I got the strawberry!

Panel of Pinterest users including Cynthia Deis of Ornamentea, Amanda of Wit & Whistle, Lee Cherry of One Bit Pixel, and moderator Kailee Brown of Ignite Social Media. P.S. Loved the simple yellow flowers in the center of all the tables!

And then of course it was time for dress up! Our fun random group: {Bottom from left to right} Caitlin, Sara, Linnie {Top from left to right} Colette, Erica, me, Linsey, and Lindsey! Some of the girls already knew each other, but it was fun to introduce everyone else to each other 🙂 Nothing makes you bond more than silly pictures {while, maybe waiting in bathroom lines together}.

Pretending to be normal

Biggest takeaways:

  • Best quote: “[Pinterest is like]  window shopping for the soul.” – Lee Cherry
  • Apparently people use Pinterest as a platform to bash others. Keep these thoughts in mind before typing a negative comment.
  • Use water marks to protect your images before they get pinned.
  • Somebody suggested that Pinterest automatically add a water mark to protect the copyrights of contributors whose images get pinned.
  • Pinterest now automatically tells you if an image has been pinned from Flickr {like this image that I used under the Creative Commons licensing for my chicken bacon lentil soup recipe}.
  • Pinterest generates revenue for items purchased through the site if the original site has an affiliate program. I had no idea!  I say good for them for monetizing so early, but disclosure is probably a good policy.
  • Just because it’s on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s fair game- be sure to take the time to find the original source to give them credit {try Chrome’s Search by Image Extension, which allows you to right-click on an image and find everywhere that the image is housed on the web}.

Thanks so much to the NC Museum of Art, all the panelists, and of course Linsey for inviting us!