On the Horizon: Upcoming Trips

Transitioning back to the workweek after a family staycation and a fun birthday weekend is a challenge- as Nutritionella pointed out, ever feel like you need a vacation to recover from vacation?

I thought it would help to remind myself of the fun trips I have on the horizon for the rest of summer and the beginning of fall.

Back to Hollymead

Work & fun trip to DC

Bachelorette party at undisclosed location

First time in Nashville

First time in San Francisco

Thank goodness I have generous family, friends, family friends, and friend’s family in cool places! We’ll be driving to most of these places, so the gas split between multiple people won’t be too expensive. For the other places, I/we have managed to find great deals by browsing Southwest’s fall sales and planning trips around the cheapest dates {hooray for workplace flexibility!}.

Where are you headed this summer/fall? What tips do you have for affordable travel? 

P.S. For more travel inspiration, check out Linnie’s Summer Travel Series!


recap: a taste of georgetown

My friends knew they wouldn’t be able to spend my birthday with me in July, so they planned a birthday surprise for this past weekend. I knew it involved food but I wasn’t sure exactly what it would be until we grabbed iced coffees from Dean and Deluca, turned the corner, and saw Taste of Georgetown, which is an annual festival with food samples, wine and beer tastings, and live jazz. Seriously? An outdoor festival where I get to eat, drink, listen to music, and hang out my friends?! Best present ever.

My friends got a deal for five food tastings and six drink samples! It doesn’t sound like a lot, but we were stuffed- we had to leave, digest, and come back to finish!

By the way, if you follow my blog for gluten-free inspiration, turn away now. I’m about to really disappoint. But I couldn’t say no to all the amazing offerings!

First up- wine at approximately 10:45am. Our first sample was SkinnyGirl wine, because we love Bethenny!

Next up: my friends each got a different crepe from Cafe Bonaparte and I of course stole a bite of each. The caramelized apple one was my favorite by far.
The next sample was our favorite sample of the day: Belmont Charcuterie {handcrafted cured meat}, Pesto Aioli, and Pickles on Grilled Ciabatta and a little cup of gazpacho on the side from Degrees Bistro {located in the Georgetown Ritz Carlton}.
My first ever Lobster Roll from Georgetown Catering! Probably my second favorite item of the day- it ran out really early in the day, so we were happy we went so early.
I was most excited about the dish from Mie N Yu- Hisho Miso Cold Duck Noodles with House Made Duck Pastrami, Buckwheat Soba Noodles, Toasted Sesame, Japanese Greens, Yuzu Kosho, Aromatic Akamiso Duck Broth, Pickled Daikon, and Crispy Garlic. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as great as it sounded, so we were a bit disappointed.
Next up, we all sampled Filomena’s Ravioli Alla Matrimonia: Roasted Meatballs on Baked Cheese Ravioli. Soo delicious!
Dessert was not one, but two Georgetown Cupcakes- molten lava and salted caramel! We loved the salted caramel but I could only manage a tiny bite of the molten lava’s cream cheese frosting.

After a few hours of lounging by the waterfront, we went back for more. The longest line we waited in was for paella from Bodega.
We couldn’t waste our tickets! Here we have Paella and Jamon Serrano, both from Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge. I loved the jamon but wasn’t blown away by the paella.
Lastly {thank goodness} we had Veggie Pad Thai from Bangkok Joe’s. Good but not amazing {maybe it was because I was so full}.

Crazy amount of food, huh? I felt a bit gluttonous! We had to digest {part two}, so we found a shady spot on the lawn outside a Georgetown church who openend their gates for the festival.  I ended up giving my drink tickets to my friends, because I couldn’t bear to put anything else into my stomach! I loved this angle:

Thank you for the amazing present, Lindsay and Karrie!

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

changing consumer behaviors: the dc bag tax

Photo credit

Did you know if you bring reusable bags to Trader Joe’s, you can enter their BYOB (bag) raffle for $100 worth of groceries? When I was shopping there the other day, I asked the cashier how many people enter. She said they estimate it to be 30,000 per month! That number- much higher than I expected- got me thinking about measures that businesses and governments implement to change consumers’ behaviors.

While I was living in Washington, DC, the city implemented a city-wide bag tax- called the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009- meaning $.05 was charged for each disposable bag a consumer received from a retailer. $.01 of this revenue went to the retailer and $.04 to a government-run Anacostia River clean-up project.

The bag tax was heralded as a win-win-win. Consumers had an incentive to change their behaviors; businesses paid less money for plastic and paper bags; and the Anacostia River would be cleaned up if people didn’t change their consumption habits. Also importantly, consumers had a relatively easy choice in the matter: don’t make an effort and pay the fee or bring a bag and save $.05. In a way, it was an optional tax.

According to an article in the Washington Post, the bag tax netted $2 million, which was half of the expected amount. This is interpreted to mean that consumers changed their habits, opting to bring reusable bags instead of spending $.05. Some studies claimed that this was a negative result, but the tax naturally pans out with more revenue netted and the same amount of bags consumed or less revenue but fewer bags consumed; by nature, it can’t be both. The Washington Times adds that “A city official said the fee has already made a positive impact by reducing the amount of garbage in the river.” Estimates say the amount of trash  produced by bags in the river was reduced by 50%. Another study showed that overall, “customers used 3.3 billion bags in one month, compared to an estimated 22.5 billion being used prior to the law taking effect.”

As with any law, there’s been some fall-out (though some of it is debatable): As I mentioned, opponents state that the lower-than-expected levels of revenue are a negative outcome, but I would disagree with that point based on the rationale above. According to studies, purchases in Washington, DC decreased because of the law; this allegation is contended by many proponents of the tax. One assertion against the law may have some merit though- as one snarky commentor said, “D.C.’s poor and elderly who rely on public transportation aren’t likely to have a Subaru Outback or Volvo station wagon in which to keep all of their Life is Good canvas bags handy.” Additionally, opponents claim that the majority of reusable grocery bags contain unsanitary amounts of bacteria because they are rarely cleaned.

Overall, yet another interesting example of an argument having two valid sides. As for me: I will continue to bring my reusable grocery bag to Trader Joe’s in the hopes that I will one day win the coveted bag of groceries! And I just might pop my bag into the washing machine every so often too 🙂

Another good example of a business positively reinforcing beneficial behaviors: Starbucks subtracts $.10 every time you bring your own cup! You get a discount, they buy fewer cups: win win!

Would the bag tax encourage you to bring your own reusable bag? Know of any other interesting taxes or measures that encourage more conscious consumerism? Does positive reinforcement (like the Starbucks discount) or negative punishment (like the bag tax) work better for you? 

“so, what do you do?”

A friend recently commented that his least favorite thing about visiting DC was that everyone’s first question is always “What do you do?” He interpreted this as a way for people to determine his social status and judge him accordingly. He very well might be right in this assumption.

But admittedly, it’s almost always one of the first questions out of my mouth when I meet a new person. First, it gives us a jumping off point for further conversation- if I find out that I’m speaking to a fellow recruiter, I can ask them their opinion on job interviewers demanding interviewee’s Facebook passwords. Or whether they think Pinterest is the new place for job seekers.

But I think what really prompts me to ask the question is that I assume {perhaps often incorrectly} that others enjoy discussing work as much as I do. I’ve always said I never want to be the person at a cocktail party who can’t say “I love my job!” but I suppose not everyone strives for that goal.

Lest someone think I’m a career snob, I have a solution. I’ve now started saying “What do you do…for fun?” Really throws ’em off!

What do you think? Is asking “What do you do?” curiosity or snobbery? 

P.S. I distinctly remember a night out in DC when an intern proudly told me and a friend that he worked at the DOD. I think he was disappointed that we weren’t blown away. But after four years in DC {and living a few blocks from the White House our freshmen year}, it was hard for titles {unless if it was POTUS} to wow us.

Source: awelltraveledwoman.tumblr.com via Carrie on Pinterest

dc trip recap

Like I said before, my trip up to DC last week was everything I wanted…and more 🙂

We ate a lot of sushi {at Nooshi and Sushi Go Round in Chinatown}

Drank bottomless mimosas and enjoyed the buffet at The Front Page in Dupont Circle

We saw Safe House at the Georgetown Movie Theatre

We spent time at the Dupont farmers’ market

Napa cabbage
Rainbow chard {see my rainbow frittata recipe, which has rainbow chard in it!}

Marinara sauce from one of the farms

And further up in Dupont…

To Dolcezza {where I tried the sea salt gelato- amazing}

And Lou Lou for cheap earrings 🙂

We also watched The Proposal, ate fajitas and drank margaritas at Los Cuates, enjoyed dinner at Clyde’s, and got a cupcake from Baked & Wired {and then forgot to eat it!}.

Just a few of the trip highlights! It was fantastic to spend Thursday and Friday hopping from one office to another {we have offices all over Chinatown, as well as near the White House}. I met tons of coworkers who I’ve only gchatted with, so it was great to put names to faces. I also sought out valuable recruiting advice from several of my coworkers {one recommended two books- I’ll highlight those in another post}. And spending time with my amigas is always boatloads of fun 🙂

Photo Credits  1, 23

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.

an incredible gift from my incredible sister

When I left for college, my sister bought me a book of photos featuring landmarks in the Triangle. I didn’t appreciate the significance back then because, as I mentioned before, North Carolina was just a stepping stone for me. However, I’ve always kept the book- which shows the North Carolina State Fair, our childhood favorite Pullen Park, and Duke Gardens, among many other places close to my heart- in a prominent spot in my dorms and apartment.

When I graduated from college some three long- and short- weeks ago, my sister gave me a book of Washington, DC photographs- photographs of the historic landmarks I pass every day on my walk to work or on my morning run. The White House, the Arlington Bridge, the Georgetown Waterfront.

In the front of the book, she inscribed the following message, which brought me (and still brings me) to tears:


As you end this phrase of your life and begin an exciting new adventure, hold on to these four years and the place that shaped who you are today. You left NC and fell in love while you were away. I hope this book makes sure you always remember another city that holds a special place in your heart. I love you, and I am so incredibly proud of you. Here’s to the start of your new life in Raleigh.

I love you!

Sara Rose

I plan to showcase these books, side by side, in my new apartment because to me, they represent both my close friendship with my sister and my close tie to two incredible, life-changing cities.

{Thank you for putting up with this corny post 🙂 }