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!


“and i need a beach. and i need a martini. stat”

First picture aboard the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship!

I’ve been on many soul-searching, introspective trips- like last year’s 10 day Birthright trip to Israel and my Alternative Breaks trip to Belize and New Orleans. But I’ll be honest with you- my recent cruise to the Bahamas was not one of them.

I did challenge the girls with several probing questions of the day, but for the most part, my questions were: What should I order for breakfast? What should I order for lunch? What should I order for dinner? Should I drink more? What should I drink? Am I getting tan? What should we do? Does anyone want a name tag? Where are Fatty and Columbus?

Haha, deep, I know.

As it usually goes, our Bahamas cruise feels like a lifetime ago. What a trip it was- and now my body is {still} punishing me haha. There are some parts of the cruise that I’m better off not sharing here if I plan on being employed in the future {partly joking} but I wanted to share some of the highlights.

  • Starting the trip off with a bang with Policeman Carlos
  • Having yet another epic trip with my sister


  • Sampling frog legs for the first time
  • Befriending Sue and Larry, our honorary parents (who invited us to spend the weekend on their farm in NC!)
  • Dressing up in pretty cocktail dresses!

    Formal night!

  • Befriending and nicknaming everyone else on the cruise including: Flo Rida, Anaphylactic Shock, Fatty, Columbus, Blaze, Macintosh, Golden Delicious, Kelly and Constable,  Bling-Bling, Phoebe, Blasov/Silly, Roman/Virgil, Music Man, Spunky Brewster and Twinkle Toes
  • Hearing “Are you guys wearing name tags? Turn the house lights on!” during the show on the first night
  • Being serenaded multiple times by Music Man

Just posing with giant chess pieces. Normal.

  • Spending the day at Atlantis- seeing the amazing aquarium, riding the lazy river, and watching the dolphins!
  • Taking a tequila shot out of a plastic Ziploc bag
  • Asking the man at the front desk to call our new friends…without knowing their room number or last names!
  • Spending the day in Freeport, where we ate lunch at a cute restaurant, befriended Christine, and made up a song about all our cruise friends

    First day at port in Freeport!

  • Having 2 lobster tails each delivered to us by our waiter, Bling Bling…then hearing him yell “Shots, shots, shots” every time he came to our table
  • Enjoying sushi and iced coffee on the deck by myself while watching the sun set over Atlantis
  • Riding a banana boat and hearing “Ohhhhh buddy” behind me..the whole time. Then capsizing not once, but twice haha. We got to see the ship from Pirates of the Carribean AND watch dolphins play 🙂
  • We rode a banana boat to see dolphins and the ship from Pirates of the Carribean!

  • Watching Twinkle Toes get his YMCA on during the first night show
  • Watching Erica kick butt- and do the chicken dance- on stage during Game Show Mania. She won a Ship on a Stick for her win!
  • Looking out over the sparkling and shockingly clear water
  • Hanging out with people for 5 days and still not having them know our real names when we disembarked
  • Having our picture taken in front of the cheesy 90s backdrops…on a beach…and in front of the “cruise ship…and on a veranda…and in Paris…and in a strange abbey thing with glasses of champagne and a grand piano….and my personal favorite: the pillow fight scene

The photographer quite enjoyed coming up with cheesy poses for us

  • And about a million more…..I’m sure this post will be updated as I think of them!
Here are a few photos that encapsulate our trip (more landscape photos to come in a different post):

Love these girls!

P.S. Who knows what movie that quote is from?! 10 points to whoever gets it right 🙂

bahama, come on pretty mama

You know why I don’t mind this icky, cold weather? Because on Wednesday I will be here:


Then on this:

{A Carnival cruise}

En route to here:

{The Bahamas}

P.S. Pinterest is a bad place to find ugly pictures because there’s always a positive spin on things. If you type in “cold weather,” you just get results for cute winter clothing and ways to fend off the winter blues. Boooo haha.

1) Source: Uploaded by user via anslee on Pinterest
2) Source: via Clinton on Pinterest
3) Source: via Samantha on Pinterest
4) Source: via Fred on Pinterest
5) Source: via Heather on Pinterest


Since I’m on a throwback NOLA kick (here and here), I thought I’d share a bit more.

Sometime I think about how I will respond if someone asks me the craziest or most spontaneous thing I’ve done. I didn’t used to think much of the fact that I packed up and moved to New Orleans for 6 weeks with no car and knowing only one person…I guess because I’ve always felt like I could do anything with enough willpower. Thinking back on it now, I see it for the courageous act that it was.

Here’s an excerpt from an email I dug up from two summers ago:

I celebrated the 4th of July in DC, made a pit stop at home in North Carolina, then flew down to New Orleans (NOLA) with my friend Dominique. I’ve been here 4 weeks so far and it’s been insane! I’m working with Habitat for Humanity with my site leader from Alternative Spring Break, so I’m building houses 5 days a week. I wake up at 6am and sometimes go to bed at 8pm because I’m so tired haha. It’s incredibly rewarding though– and not just my crazy tan and jacked muscles 🙂 It’s really neat to see that I’m making a tangible difference. Meeting homeowners is especially cool because they are so appreciative. And I got to see the house I worked on over spring break, where a family now lives!

In my off time, I’ve been exploring the city (coffee and French doughnuts at the famous Cafe du Monde, frolicking in the French Quarter, riding the St. Charles Streetcar, etc) and hanging out with my roommates. I found a house on Craigslist with 6 strangers, so there’s an uncanny resemblance to the Real World (how fitting, given our MTV theme!). Everyone always jokes about where our confessional should be. I’ve made lots of trips to Bourbon Street, so in answer to your question, yes, I have lots of Mardi Gras beads…but no, I did not obtain them through questionable methods 🙂

In celebration of daring actions, I thought I would leave you with these inspirational tidbits. Ryan, if you’re reading this, these are straight from Pinterest 🙂

throwback: alternative breaks nola

I’ve been thinking a lot about the past, largely in part because TAPI IS COMING TO VISIT ME IN NC! Longgg story short, Tapi is my friend Dominique- we circuitously took this nickname for ourselves during our Alternative Breaks trip to Belize, where we spent every minute together and really solidified our friendship (which is based on a fondness of scary movies, a penchant for prank calls, and true love).

I don’t wish I was back in college because I love where I am now, but I do love looking back at all of my fun memories every once in awhile. Is it strange that I love a good dose of nostalgia every so often?

Alternative Breaks were such a huge part of my college experience. If you’re still in school and haven’t done one- DO IT. You will not regret it. For 7-10 days, you are surrounded by the coolest, most passionate, dedicated, and fun group of young changemakers.

Here’s a video of my second Alternative Breaks trip to New Orleans. Don’t judge how hideous I look please! It was uncharacteristically freezing in NOLA, hence the ridiculous outfit 🙂

AWB NOLA 2010 Highlights from AWB NOLA on Vimeo.

the roman sisters take savannah


We left for Savannah right after work on Friday. We were en route to surprise my sister’s friend for her birthday! She was definitelyyy surprised.

We saw this (but did not stop):

On Saturday,we ate here (at this exact table, actually):

Soho South Cafe

We went here (where this was filmed):

Six Pence Pub

We went here:

Wet Willie's

And here…

Rooftop of the Bohemian Hotel

We did the Chicken Dance here:


We went here for ReFest:

Southern Pine Warehouse

We went to a lot of places here:

Congress St

Including here:

Sweet Melissa's

Coolest of all, we went here:

Mata Hari's, a members-only speakeasy

And that was just Saturday…

monday morning inspiration

Read these words on Live Creating Yourself

Sip this fair trade K-cup

Sniff this fall-filled scent

Listen to this rediscovered band

Try this crisp weather soup

Embrace these cozy scarves

…And don’t forget your amazing weekend

gluten-free challenge: update

On a scale of 1-5, I would give myself a 4 on my gluten challenge. I made several small lapses, but overall I stuck to my gluten-free guns.

Monday through Friday wasn’t so hard because I was able to plan ahead. I did have dashes of soy sauce here and there but I also picked up gluten-free Tamari at Whole Foods towards the end of the week (thanks to LivingSocial for the WH deal!). And I had a bite of a chocolate chip cookie that a visitor of The Raleigh Forum brought by! My diet consisted of hearty and healthy salads; soup from Trader Joe’s (including roasted tomato and red pepper, as well as lentil soup); home-made frittatas (sans flour); lots of chopped veggies with Alouette spreadable cheeses for dipping; green beans; roasted Brussel sprouts with walnuts; ground turkey fajita bowls with chickpeas; apple sauce; this chicken sausage dish; and of course, coffee.

All was well even on Friday afternoon, as we grabbed sushi from Harris Teeter to eat in the car on the way to Charleston. And by eat, I mean I drove as my sister fed me pieces. The trouble set in later in the evening when we stopped at McDonalds for fries and milkshakes. Healthy? No. Gluten-free? Debatable. According to this article, the fries at McDonalds contain trace amounts of gluten.

On Saturday morning, we ate an al fresco breakfast at our adorable bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, the menu was delicious but certainly not gluten-free banana rum french toast! At the Mexican restaurant we went to for lunch, I requested extra rice and beans with my fajitas in lieu of tortillas. One point for Cristina! During afternoon tea at our hotel, I had a little cracker. Because cheese without a cracker is not the same. At the wedding we attended on Saturday night, I ate a roll. Not because it was delicious or out of necessity. Just for the heck of it. Minus five points for Cristina.

On Saturday night, we made new friends that we traipsed around town with. Let’s just say, I don’t think the Irish car bombs we imbibed  chugged at Tommy Condon’s were gluten-free. Nor was the Bud Light I drank half of and then dropped on the floor of Mad River. Trust me, the drop resulted from my clumsiness; nothing else.

Sunday morning’s breakfast consisted of Lowcountry Eggs Benedict- another lapse on my part. For lunch, we were cautious, ordering big garden salads and a sashimi appetizer. I grabbed a few bites of gluten-free cajun rice pilaf before jumping into bed and falling promptly to sleep at 9pm last night.

Since I haven’t figured out a fool-proof pattern yet, I’m now heading into my second week of being gluten-free. Wish me luck and stay tuned for some inspired gluten-free recipes!

a jaunt to the vineyard

On Sunday, my sister and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to a vineyard as part of our “leaving work at work” pact. We are of course still in love with Raleigh, but it’s nice to get away to rejuvenate and refresh every so often- or in my case, accidentally every weekend (DC then vineyard then DC again!).

So we grabbed PSLs from Starbucks, pumped up the iPod, rolled the windows down, put on the cruise control, and acted like the silly sisters we are.

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.