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!}:

July

  • 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}

August

September

October

November

December

  • Recorded a rap music video, called #TRFLovesIt for The Raleigh Forum 
  • Flew to NYC for Christmas
January
  • 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…
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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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂

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? 

a pho-nomenal competition

I have a confession. I currently have 70 {yes, 70!} half-written blog post sitting in my draft folder. Yikes. One that I’ve been meaning to write since last July was where to find the best hole-in-the-wall ethnic food in Raleigh.

My buddy and I made plans to get take-out Pho {Vietnamese soup} the other night. As we were driving up Capital Blvd and deciding which Pho restaurant to go to, we decided to get a dish from each place and pit them against each other in a super-intense food competition. Yes, this is what I do with my time. Haha! I knew it was a blog post in the making.

The competitors {drum roll, please}:

Pho Cali: 3310 Capital Blvd 
Pho Far East: 4011 Capital Blvd

We carefully devised a system to rank the restaurants.

  • Atmosphere: Pho Cali was perfectly nice but very simple; Pho Far East felt much more cozy because of the decor and lights.
    • Winner: Pho Far East 
  • Popularity {extra points were awarded if the customers were Vietnamese because we all know that matters}: Pho Cali gained two customers while we were there, but Pho Far East had about eight people eating dinner there. It was a tie for percentage of Vietnamese diners. 
    • Winner: Pho Far East
  • Price: $8.99 for a big portion of pho at both places.
    • Tie
  • Quantity: The presentation made it slightly hard to judge, but I think the servings were comparable.
    • Tie
  • Hours: Pho Cali is open for an extra hour at the morning, but I am realistically going to drive up Capital for pho at 9am? Gonna call it a:
    •  Tie
  • Presentation: The overall presentation of Pho Far East’s was more elegant and appetizing.
    • Winner: Pho Far East
  • Service: The service at both places was fantastic. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and even let us practice our Vietnamese pronunciation. But the winner by a slight margin was Pho Cali.
    • Winner: Pho Cali
  • Location: Pho Cali is closer to downtown; Pho Far East is further up Capital {which is one of the worst streets in Raleigh}.
    • Winner: Pho Cali
  • Quality: Arguably the most important of the categories! Alone, each bowl of pho was delicious. But side-by-side, Pho Far East was the clear winner. The broth was much more flavorful, the meat looked more fresh, and they included sriracha, which is critical to the enjoyment of a bowl of Pho.
    • Winner: Pho Far East 
Pho Far East was a pretty clear winner in the pho-off {reviews on Yelp say the same thing}. I look forward to patronizing the restaurant again in the near future 🙂 

P.S. Cheesy joke time: what country has the best food? Viet-nom nom nom 🙂

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.

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

roundup: wine tasting with the blog girls

What do you expect when you put a bunch of bloggers in a room with wine? Well, lots of girl talk, giddiness, and giggles, for one thing. But also a wholeee buncha blog posts over the course of the next few days!

Here’s a roundup of the blog girls’ blog posts from our Wine Feed event {for mine, here}:

Carolina Gypsy- The Wine Feed

Linnie at Large- Fun: The Wine Buzz

Nutritionella- Leaping to the Library

Fannetastic Food- Triangle Area Blogger Wine Tasting Meetup

raleighwood inspiration

I’m about to hit up the party supply store for decorations, centerpieces, and even a red carpet for our Night in Raleighwood party! Before I head out, I wanted to get some web-based inspiration for our shopping spree 🙂

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I rarely go shopping but the hostess deserves a pretty, sparkly dress, right?! {Photo credit}

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a night in raleighwood giveaway

If you’re not on The Raleigh Forum’s listserve (which you should be!), you may not know that we’re hosting an awesomeee party on January 26!

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The Raleigh Forum and iContact will host an Academy Awards-themed cocktail attire party on January 26. Attendees are invited to walk the red carpet, pose in front of the step-and-repeat, vote for the winner of awards categories, and bump elbows with locals during this music-infused awards party.

Beer and wine will be provided at the open bar by The Wine Feed. Appetizers are provided by Gravy, courtesy of Empire Eats. Local singer-songwriter Erik Smallwood will be playing acoustic music throughout the event.

50% of entrance fee proceeds will be donated to Change the Triangle, the Triangle’s young professional volunteer organization.

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What’s better than a ticket to this amazing event? A free ticket! Each of the following will give you one entry into a giveaway for a free ticket {which includes an open bar, appetizers, and a raffle ticket!}!

1) Leave a comment on this post with a suggestion for a Raleigh-related award category {like Best in Networking}.

2) Tweet about this giveaway (mention @cmroman and cmroman.com).

3) Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link to this post.

The winner will be chosen on January 19 through Random.org.

**If you have already purchased a ticket, you can either receive another one or have your money refunded 🙂