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 🙂


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? 

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.

our last day at hollymead farm

Sunday was a bittersweet day at the farm because we knew we had to return to real life shortly.

My sister and I woke up at 6:15am to catch the sunrise, which didn’t pan out very well because we missed most of it! But I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the patio:

And I snapped a picture once the sun was up:

Sue and Larry took us to a local diner for breakfast (but we insisted on paying!), where we proceeded to die laughing for most of the time…but we all got a bit sentimental. At one point, there were four pairs of teary eyes around the table! We felt like we had learned so much from them on appreciating the little things in life; staying close to family; staying young at heart; and maintaining a great marriage.

Once the waterworks dried up, we headed to their son’s house (which he’s building by hand!) to meet day old baby goats! What an incredible experience- they are precious! The ones that were two days old were bounding around awkwardly and searching for their mom 🙂 Here I am holding Heart:

And here I am giving kisses to Steve the Goat. He kept licking his lips haha!

And all the girls with Heart (of course I’m holding a coffee cup on a farm!):

What trip to a farm would be complete without a donkey ride? Thank you to Aubrie for being such a great driver!

Clearly I’m not very photogenic but these pictures are too cute to not show!

When we got back to the house, we wanted to get a picture of the six of us. Sue or Larry ended up getting this completely candid shot, which I think looks like the Beatles Abbey Road cover!

Near the end of the weekend, I told Larry it was like the end of an era. He replied, “Nope- just the end of a weekend.” They invited us back (Sue reminded me that I had to make matzo ball soup next time!), so we are planning a trip for the fall. Imagine this view in fall colors:

So so so many thanks to our amazing new(ish) friends for welcoming us into their home and making us feel like family! The Real Hussies of Hollymead Farm thank you 🙂

the rest of day two at hollymead farm

For all my posts on our trip to Hollymead Farm, see my “Hollymead Farm” tag.

After flipping manure for a few hours, the three of us headed back up to the house to shower and get ready for our pool party! I had promised Sue that I would help in the kitchen, but unfortunately the farm work took too long- #farmgirlproblems. Erica and I did have a few spare minutes, so we headed down to the herb garden to collect some cilantro to garnish the chicken fajitas.

The evening was a blast- a ton of our friends from the cruise came by to see us hang out in the pool and hot tub. We had amazing dips, including a delicious artery-clogging buffalo chicken dip (recipe to come)! I think approximately 12 million batches of margaritas were made in the sturdy Margaritaville machine:

I Instagrammed a picture of a ton of tequila shots with the caption “This was not my idea.” I promise I wasn’t being coy; it really wasn’t my idea.  This was the brainchild of Troublemaker Chip:

We made sure to don our buttons for the pool party. We received tons of compliments on them:

We had a blast catching up with everyone, hearing about their kids, playing with a few adorable dogs, taking a shot or three, lounging in the hot tub, and looking at the stars (Colette and I invented a game called “Star, Airplane, or Firefly” where we had to identify which of the three spots of light were haha).

The whole group that attended was so fun-loving and inspired me to stay young at heart (like Frank Sinatra says).

cristina chats with…linnie!

I met Linnie of Linnie at Large at our Night in Raleighwood party. I remember thinking how pretty and friendly she was! Since that party, I’ve seen her at The Raleigh Forum for brown bag lunches, several blog events {including the recent #NCMAPinup event and our wine tasting at The Wine Feed}, and even her birthday party a few days ago! She continually impresses me with her open attitude, constant exploration of Raleigh, her new position as a committee head for Change the Triangle, and most of all, her commitment to “living large.” Can’t wait to have more shenanigans with Linnie 🙂

 “This picture means so much to me because it was taken by one of my best friends, Veronica Sharon, amidst a fun filled day in my favorite city: New York.”

Share your 6 word memoir with me.
Believe. Dreams really do come true.

Tell me a fun fact.
I’ve traveled the world and have lived in all four corners of the country.

Why do you blog?
Blogging is therapy. It gives me a chance to share my new adventures in Raleigh with others. I hope it inspires people to get to know the world around them, dream big, and live LARGE!

How did you come up with your blog title and content?
I love to travel and I’m always on the go. I thought “Linnie at Large” would be the perfect way to capture my personality and passion for exploring new sights.

If you could improve your blog in one way, what would you do?
Over the last few months I’ve spent (way too much) time formatting my blog in a way that fits my personality best. I’m really loving the layout right now. However, in terms of content, I would love to travel more and then introduce others to the world beyond their immediate reach through my blog.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from blogging?
Always check your spelling and grammar! Read your post out loud before you publish to catch simple mistakes. Make sure to give credit where credit is due.

What is the best thing you’ve gotten out of your blog {friend, product, etc}?
I can’t help but thank Cristina for introducing me to the “Triangle Blog Girls.” Shortly after I started “Linnie at Large” she invited me to a blogger event with a bunch of other smart, driven women who are dedicated to their blogs and enriching the lives of others. I’ve made great friends and have been exposed to so many new ideas and opportunities through this one fabulous group of girls.

What’s your favorite post so far? What is your most popular?
My favorite post was my Birthday Fun at Fab’rik, because it captured all of my favorite things: fashion, fun, and friends. It was a representation of the family I have built and grown to love since moving to Raleigh. My most popular post was about the Redress Raleigh Fashion Show were several designers in the Triangle showcased their unique and original designs.

Describe your blog using 6 tags/hashtags.
#fashion #Raleigh #fun #TheCarterBuilding #wine #thebloggirls

If you could only read one blog for the rest of your life, which would it be {something other than mine even though that’s a natural first choice haha!}?
I’m still new to this whole blogging thing, but I really enjoy reading fashion blogs. They help satisfy my shopping addiction without spending a dime. Plus, they showcase the latest trends before they go mainstream. I really enjoy keeping up with Tiffany Style and Mollie in Seattle.

What is your favorite part of the Triangle?
The inner loop! On my days off you’ll find me either downtown or Glenwood South. If I’m not there, then I’m usually walking or jogging between the two!

If you could spend the day anywhere in the Triangle, where would it be?
Lately I’ve enjoyed spending the day at the pool when the weather allows, but I also enjoy popping in and out of stores and cafes in downtown Raleigh or along Glenwood South.

What’s one job that you secretly {or not-so-secretly} want?
I love my job. I’ve worked long, hard hours to land the job I have here in Raleigh. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What is your favorite word and why?
I enjoy saying and getting into: shenanigans!

What is your favorite recipe to make {provide a link if you’d like}?
My new year’s resolution was to cook more, and so far I’ve been pretty successful! I absolutely LOVE this salmon recipe that’s super easy to make!

What’s your favorite season? Why?
There’s something about summer that’s so simple and carefree. I enjoy spending my summer days by a lake or pool until the day turns to night. There’s something about a summer sunset that’s absolutely magical.


Blog girls: Want to be featured? Shoot me an email!

recap: day one at hollymead farm

Good morning! I’m sitting in the office with a soy misto rehashing the weekend in my head. We all agreed that magical is the first word that comes to mind.

In case you don’t remember, I traveled with the cruise girls {my sister and our friends Colette and Erica} to western North Carolina to visit our Rotary Club cruise friends. We all agreed that no one will truly understand what an incredible trip it was, so this post is partly commemorative, partly important inspirational, and partly to provoke jealousy (kidding!).

Do you ever feel like your heart is literally swelling with happiness? Imagine a weekend filled with that feeling. Within approximately 12 seconds of walking through the door, we felt at home and at ease. Any idea that the trip might be filled with any awkwardness vanished almost immediately.

You know the kind of people who are so quick to laugh at anything? Around the right people, that’s how I consider myself. Sue and Larry are undoubtedly cut from the same fabric as us- they have the ability to laugh hysterically one moment but have a meaningful conversation the next. But I’m getting ahead of myself!

We hopped in the car at 5pm and proceeded to sing to “Call Me Maybe” and “Scream” by Usher. We stopped for food within the first 20 minutes and ended up chatting with one of the cashiers. On our way out he shouted across the restaurant, “Have fun at the farm, girls!” We were cracking up knowing that we had already had a mini-adventure and our trip had barely started! The first two hours flew by because we didn’t stop talking at all! The last hour went by even more quickly because we were so excited. As we drove up the driveway of the farm, it was just a repeated chorus of “Oh my gosh!” We were so overwhelmed by the picturesqueness of the farm- imagine huge rolling pastures, white picket fences, a long gravel driveway, a beautiful stable, grape vines planted by the side of the driveway, and huge beds of hydrangeas. And that wasn’t even taking into account the house and the patio!

Sue and Larry met us at the door and welcomed us with huge hugs. Within minutes, we were ushered out to the beautiful patio that overlooked the pastures and most of the county. Giant glasses of wine were forced upon us 🙂 Over wine and later, a delicious meal of chicken salad, we laughed hysterically, talked about our lives, and tried to remember all of the funny quotes…and there may or may not have been a mock wedding toast given by yours truly. Hands down the funniest part of the evening was Larry plomping down four homemade buttons for us. They read “Neither hussy nor bimbo am I,” which is an inside joke since one of the couples on the cruise said that we were hussies {I assure you- we’re not!}.

After many hours, we retired to our quaint guest bedrooms, which had super comfy queen-sized beds and even little bottles of water to keep us hydrated! We tried to get a good night’s sleep to prep for our big day on Saturday!

a response to the passing of amendment one

Edited: Because I went to school in DC, I have a lot of very liberal friends who live in other states. On May 9, my Facebook newsfeed was filled with harsh, angry or just disappointed messages about North Carolina. My first reaction was embarrassment- I live in a state that people throughout the country now look down on. But my second (and stronger reaction) was disappointment in these people- not one person posted a status thanking the opponents of the amendment for their tireless work or promising to keep on fighting with and for LGBTs here. Not one acknowledged the thousands of 20 somethings who took a strong stand even when they don’t consider themselves political.

Am I proud of the decision to pass Amendment One? Absolutely not. But I am proud of the 39% of North Carolinians that took a stand and are continuing to fight against Amendment One.

P.S. Read this article: “I will not give up on you North Carolina. None of us will.


If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ll know that Amendment One passed in NC. I don’t feel like I can write an articulate response, but the following messages stood out to me on my Facebook page.


Sad day in NC as our state voted to take away the rights of so many, both gay and straight. However, I’m proud to be from Raleigh where the majority voted against it, and I’m encouraged by the community here that has come together and taken so much action to educate voters and encourage everyone to vote against. At least we can say we fought a good fight.



The hate-filled statuses against the south in response to NC’s passing of amendment 1 is more discouraging to me than the actual passing of the legislation. An electorate is not representational of all of the population– don’t forget LGBT people, people in domestic partnerships and alternative family structures live there too. Please don’t discount their work on the ground. Not to mention, 29 states, not all in the south, have already passed this type of legislation.



Struggling for the right words today. I’ve been getting overwhelmed by the variety and strength of my emotions about the amendment. I hate that this vote is tearing our state apart. What upsets me the most is to see people who I know to be loving and kind slinging hateful messages at the other side. We’re asking others to show tolerance so let’s set that example. We’re want to win legal recognition for our loving relationships, so let’s approach this with love. We very well may lose the vote today, but let’s not be ugly about it and give the other side more reasons to vote our rights away. If we want to change the majority’s opinion, we need to approach them with love, tolerance and respect. No matter which way the vote goes, I feel like there’s a win every time someone says something loving, and I feel like we lose every time we say something hateful.



I’m sorry that 832,867 of us voting against Amendment One was not enough. I’m sorry that last night’s news was not different. And I’m sorry for what the passing of this measure means.

These last months have been epic, and the story is far from over. This morning begins the next chapter, with many opportunities to carry the momentum forward. In some ways, this morning is no different than the rest — because I, like many, still believe in ALL.



Future generations will look back on this day in disbelief and embarrassment. But politics will catch up with truth eventually. Don’t fight fire with fire, keep spreading the word about love and equality. ♥ NC



I’m sad tonight for ALL of the families (gay or straight) in NC that may be affected by Amendment 1…but my heart is heavier tonight for my closest friends who had to experience such a public form of discrimination.


an explanation of amendment one

Unfortunately, it seems that many people don’t understand the implications of the seemingly simple Amendment One, which is on the May 8 ballot in North Carolina.

It reads: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”

On the surface, it appears to be an amendment about gay marriage {which is already illegal in NC}, but there are many unspoken implications.

An editorial in the New York Times, aptly entitled “Bigotry on the Ballot,” explains it:

It would constitutionally prohibit recognition not just of same-sex marriages, but of other legal arrangements like civil unions and domestic partnerships. That could harm all unmarried couples, imperiling some children’s health insurance benefits, along with child custody arrangements and safeguards against domestic violence.

In more specific terms, it could {based on the interpretation of the courts}:

  • Invalidate domestic violence protections.
  • Weaken child custody and visitation rights.
  • Threaten the right of partners to decide major medical decisions for their partner.
  • Disallow second-parent adoptions undertaken to ensure unmarried parents have equal legal ties and financial responsibilities for any children they adopt together.
  • Invalidate certain trusts, wills and end-of-life directives.

My hope is that this blog post will reach individuals who don’t have a full understanding of the amendment. I urge you to do more research into the amendment and to remember: this is not just about gay marriage.

I voted AGAINST Amendment One and hope you will consider doing so too.

business & politics- should they mix? part ii

During high school public speaking class, you are forced to argue one side of a debate, whether or not you actually agree with it. This exercise opened my mind to more effectively analyzing both sides of any debate in order to form the most educated opinion possible. If you understand the other side’s argument inside and out, you’re more equipped to respond to their assertions.

As you know, I don’t delve into political issues on my blog very often. When I do, I attempt to present an unbiased a post as possible {except in the case of the death penalty}. I think people generally approach political issues with a one-sided, inflexible mindset, so I think it’s important to play devil’s advocate.

In my recent post on Chick-Fil-A and TOMS, I apparently did a very good (too good?) job of hiding my actual opinion. One commenter, “Concerned Raleighite,” criticized my post, especially the part in which I draw a parallel between the actions of Chick-Fil-A and TOMS Shoes. While the commenter absolutely has valid points- many of which I agree with- I think their response highlighted exactly why I wrote the post in the first place.

This post came out of a conversation with someone in which we wondered whether businesses should do whatever they want with their money. We also wondered what people would think and do if Chick-Fil-A was supporting a different social issue. What if they supported a very liberal agenda? Would those who support boycotting them now support others boycotting them then?  Or would their opinion suddenly change?

Some people may criticize me for addressing this issue, but remember: I’m not telling anyone that discrimination is okay; I’m just acknowledging that there are two sides to this. I’m also making people aware of Chick-Fil-A’s business practices so that they can be informed and make their own decisions going forward. I’m not asking for people to agree or disagree with me, but I am asking people to think about this issue instead of seeing it as a one-sided thing.

do support the right to boycott {I think I made that clear by my decision to boycott Taco Bell}. I do agree that businesses who discriminate open themselves to criticism. I do believe that in this case, the criticism is valid.

In case my stance on gay rights is at all in question {which I suspect it is}, I will unabashedly go on the record as being for gay marriage and against Amendment 1. On May 8, I will proudly check the Against box and hope, pray, and cross my fingers that my fellow North Carolinians do too.