Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Favorites: August 15

Favorite Netflix Binge: United States of Tara
The cable went out one night this week during a massive thunderstorm and Aaron was out for the evening at a trivia night, so what is a girl to do? Rekindle my loving relationship with Netflix of course! I remembered that my sister raved about this show a few years back, so when it popped up on my recommendations, I decided to give it a try. I have already finished season 1 and am well on my way through season 2. It's witty and smart and will make you cringe a bit at the awkward situations, but you won't want to stop watching!

Favorite cookware brand: Le Creuset
I had seen Le Creuset pieces on cooking blogs and TV presentations every so often, but I guess I never really paid attention. Boy, do I wish I added one of these beauties to our wedding registry! This week I have been diving in to learn all about cooking with Le Creuset and I have decided that I am going to treat myself to a classic Round French Oven for my birthday. Now I just have to decided which color!!! Ahhh!!!

Favorite meal this week: Grilled Chicken Al Fresco
Last night was a raid-the-fridge-leftovers-for-dinner night so and we decided to pull out the leftover tzatziki, Trader Joe's naan, jasmine rice and hummus and then grill up a few pieces of chicken. I threw together a marinade (olive oil + lemon zest + lemon juice + minced garlic + dried rosemary + dried oregano + salt + pepper) then grilled them up after 30 minutes in their lemony herby soak. Perfecto! The weather was perfect, there were not too many bugs buzzing around and life was sweet.

What was your favorite thing this week?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recipe Test: Baked Mediterranean Chicken

Mediterranean flavors and cuisine are always at the top of my list. Zesty lemon, fresh herbs, salty olives, yes please. I have been trying to learn more about Mediterranean flavors by trying new recipes like this Baked Mediterranean Chicken. I already had a few olives left over from tacos that I made late last week and a couple of chicken breasts in the freezer, so only had to pick up 1 red onion and some feta (which I found on sale at Lowes Foods, score!).

This recipe was easy to make and came together quickly. After 35 minutes the chicken came out of the oven cooked perfectly, but the best part of this dish is really the bed of lemony sweet red onion slices and olives. I severed this chicken along with Israeli couscous and a simple homemade tzatziki sauce.

  • 2 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, whole
  • 2 to 4 medium chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Crumbled Feta for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 450º
  2. Zest one lemon. Place zest in a large bowl and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add in the red onion slices and kalamata olives. Toss to coat. Place onions and olives in the bottom of a baking dish
  3. Season chicken with salt, pepper and oregano then place on top of the bed of onions and olives
  4. Squeeze the juice out of the zested lemon over the top of the chicken and onions
  5. Sprinkle paprika over the top
  6. Add the zested and squeezed lemon rinds to the pan
  7. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes
Serve on a bed of spinach, topped with feta cheese and with extra lemon wedges for squeezing. Optional accompaniments: Roasted red peppers, pita bread with hummus, cucumbers or couscous.

Adapted From

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites: July 25

Favorite Web series: Idiotsitter
A "straight-and-narrow" young woman is hired to babysit and tutor the daughter of a mega-rich couple who turns out to be a woman child who has been left alone in her daddy's mansion under house arrest. It's harsh. It's graphic. It's fast. It's hilarious. Also, T.J. Miller guest stars.

Favorite Summer Concert: Monumentour Fall Out Boy and Paramore
AMAZING show! I will post more details and photos next week once I get a chance to edit them down. Seriously, so many pictures. My phone's memory card has the itis from all of the great photos Aaron shot during both sets.

Favorite Accessory: LC Lauren Conrad Pyramid Stud Earrings
I am a big fan of enamel stud earrings especially when they have a little bit of sparkle! I always go back to the LC line at Kohl's and find great enamel pieces to add to my collection. I picked these up in white last weekend and have worn them every single day this week!

What are your favorite things this week?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

links: mermaids

Mermaid Birthday Party | pillow thought This is one lucky 4-year-old. Her mama went above and beyond to through her a beautiful mermaid birthday party complete with a scaly ombre cake, aquarium Jello jars and a treasure hunt! Also  crabwiches. Just too good. Making mental notes for future party planning (for my birthday parties of course...).

Sous La Mer | Teepublic I really don't need any more t-shirts ever, but maybe as a print?

Anna Paquin Dons New “Mermaid” Hair Color | Refinery29 Yes, I am a True Blood fan. No, I am not a Sookie fan, but I am a fan of her new mermaid hair. I'm jealous.

How Glenn Casale Helped The Little Mermaid Find Her Feet | Huffington Post Only a few more days until I get to see TLM here in Raleigh! I have been hoping to see it live ever since this first came out on Broadway. I know it will be fantastic!

13 Secret Mermaid Confessions From Whisper | Buzzfeed Pretty much!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birchbox Modern Mermaid Review + Coupon Codes

Earlier this month I was looking up reviews for the limited edition Walgreens Ariel cosmetics collection and I ended up finding a review for the Birchbox Limited Edition: Modern Mermaid. I had never placed an order with Birchbox before, but after reading through the box description and watching a few Modern Mermaid reviews on YouTube, I decided to take the plunge.

RUFFIAN Endless Summer Collection – Nail Polish Trio If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen a photo from when I was testing this polish trio. I rocked the multicolored nails for a few days and even got a compliment from one of my coworkers! I really like these polishes. The blue and pink only need one coat, but my favorite color, Sahara, needs 2 coats.

Vasanti Kajal Extreme Intense Eye Pencil in Electric Navy The smooth, creamy formula goes on easily and doesn't smudge all over the place. It's a bright electric blue. Good for highlighting a certain pair of blue eyes...

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat It's a waterproof topcoat for your existing mascara. I don't need water resistant mascara very often, but it might come in handy for a teary eyed moment.

Stephanie Johnson Mermaid Mirror This is really what sold the whole box for me. I really like this mirror and couldn't wait to get it! It replaced a small PB&J mirror that I have been carrying around since my freshman year of college. The purple sheen is more prominent in person, but the green iridescence really pops in the right light!

Atelier Cologne Cédrat Enivrant Cologne Absolue This cologne is actually one of my favorite items in this box! It has notes of lime, juniper and mint. I'm a big fan, but Aaron is not. He is not a fragrance fan at all though. It's a light scent and stays put through the day (I just sniffed my shirt to check that).

Captain Blankenship Mermaid Mane Sea Salt Spray This is the first sea salt spray that I have ever tried. I haven't had a chance to play around with it much, but I like the smell. Time to experiment!

COOLA Liplux SPF 30 Original Formula 2nd fav in the box. It is colorless and it smells mildly like almost every other SPF chapstick I have used, but it brings big time moisturization to my lips! It has a happy home in my bag next to my original Chapstick.


Final Thoughts // I am very pleased with my first Birchbox purchase. The checkout process was easy, shipping was fast, the packaging design is well done, all of the products arrived safely and I can actually use everything that came in the box. The compact mirror is beautiful, the perfume is very nice, the nail polishes are lovely and I love the lip balm. I recommend this box to anyone who wants to add a little mermaid magic to their beauty routine!

Coupon Codes // Use one of these codes to save 20%: first20off, WELCOMEOFFER20, MOBILE20, LETSGO20. Also, don't forget to add the Bonus Shop Mystery Sampler Pack free with your purchase.

Have you tried Birchbox or any of these products? 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorites: July 18

Favorite YouTube Playlist: Cutthroat Kitchen - Behind the Scenes
Join my #1 favorite Food Network host, Alton Brown as he gives a behind the scenes look at Cutthroat Kitchen. Follow him on set, discover some of his favorite evilicious sabotages and find out what 3 words you should NEVER use to describe your food.

Favorite body care product: Sweet Citrus & Sugar Body Scrub
After dinner one evening, Aaron and I stopped in to our local Earth Fare where I discovered the Biggs & Featherbelle body care line for the first time. They have big pots of sugar scrubs and bath salt soaks that you can stir around, smell and scoop into containers to take home. There are also pre-packaged containers and soaps. So far I have tried the Lime & Sea Salt and Sweet Citrus & Sugar scents. I cannot get enough of the citrus one!

Favorite movie soundtrack: Wish I Was Here
After seeing the Kickstarter online backers screening, I have been listening to this album on and off all week. The best way to listen before you buy a copy for yourself? Stream the 'Wish I Was Here' soundtrack with exclusive commentary by Zach Braff.

Favorite daydream activity: Planning weekend trips around NC
Using a combination of Google maps + Trip Advisor + Groupon I plan dream getaways full of places to stay notable food destinations and entertaining activities to discover more of our adopted home state. Now I just need the budget to fund my weekly getaways...

What are your favorite things this week?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

DIY Home: Easy Kitchen Island Hooks

We are settling into our new home a little more every day. Since moving in we have been taking on small projects here and there every weekend. Small projects with big impact such as installing a peep hole in the front door, a new screen door to the deck and this project, installing a set of hooks on the kitchen island.

The idea spark for this project came from three needs 1. my interest in styling the island 2. a place to hang a dish towel to dry hands after washing in the sink, and 3. my oven mits that once lived atop our toaster oven no longer had a home because we got rid of the toaster oven and have yet to replace it.

I perused Pinterest and a few design blogs for awhile, but wasn't really finding the inspiration that I was looking for. Finally, I just Googled: "How to style a kitchen island" which resulted in a link to a slideshow called 26 Great Ideas for Kitchen Islands on the Country Living website. The title is spot one, there are a bunch of great ideas for kitchen islands, but there was one photo in particular that caught my eye.

This photo became the inspiration for this little DIY project. No, the answer here isn't "add puppy to kitchen and everything will be perfect!" even though I wish that was true. It's the hooks on the side of that rolling kitchen cart!

You can see in the "before" photo of our kitchen that the side of the island that is facing the table is completely flat. The parallel side has a horizontal outlet and is also where we have our kitchen trashcan.

We picked up 4 Command hooks in brushed nickel at Walmart. They are easy to install and easy to remove one day when it's time, no drilling holes into the island needed. Aaron used a laser level to make sure they were all sitting at the same height and we let them settle in for a few hours before hanging anything on them.

The finished hooks with a dish towel and pot holders.

Close up shot of the cutest pot holder and mermaid trivet from the Maryland RenFest.

Top of the island with our micro basil plant from Logan's and Porcelain Red Pomegranate Vase by NewMoonStudio on Etsy.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Links: Misc

Baton Rouge 'Mermaid' makes a splash | NBC33 TV A Louisiana mom dons a beautiful custom mermaid tail at her local community pool and hopes to promote LA coastal preservation. Not sure how much she is really doing to help the environment, but the tail looks great! I'm not sure I would be so brave to wear a tail at our pool...

Movie Mashup Game: Fourth of July edition | The News & Observer Since discovering this game last year, Aaron and I get excited whenever a new edition is released. The object: The blurbs listed combine titles of two or more well-known movies or popular TV shows. For this edition at least one of the titles in each item has an American theme in the story or title. Can you guess the new mashed up movie title? Watch out! This link has the answers!

Raleighwood Melon-tini | Our State Magazine Summer is the season for this refreshing cocktail made with pureed fresh watermelon. This quick and easy cocktail recipe is a no-brainer! It's a great way to use up a huge NC watermelon and best served along side a summer evening grilled dinner. Also, it's very forgiving so you can easily swap out the liquor if you can to add another flavor layer or if you're not a vodka fan.

Zach Braff Breaks Down 'Wish I Was Here' Soundtrack Song by Song | Rolling Stone The actor-director offers his thoughts on tracks by the Shins, Bon Iver, Paul Simon and a duet between Coldplay and Cat Power. Aaron and I are Kickstarter backers for 'Wish I Was Here' and we "attended" the online backer's thank you screening on Friday night. We were sent a direct link for a single showing of the final cut, which will be released later this week. The music Thoughts on the film to follow.

Tobacco, tar heels and tulip glasses — NC's craft beer boom | CNBC 25 Traditionally known for its tobacco, barbecue, college basketball and the squealing tires of stock car racing, one Southeastern state is blazing a new trail for its name. "North Carolina is the hottest emerging state for craft beer right now," said Marc Levit, associate at the Demeter Group, which advises alcoholic beverage companies.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Favorites: July 11

Favorite New TV Show: HBO's Silicon Valley
Aaron and I just finished watching the first season of this HILARIOUS new comedy (you can easily binge watch the 8 1/2 hour episodes in one day this weekend, trust me, it's worth it!). Silicon Valley tells the story of a group of guys (including T.J. Miller who makes any show worth watching!) in Palo Alto, CA who are living together and working together on creating a company centered around a breakthrough app universal compression called Pied Piper. You don't need background knowledge of programming, Java, or the tech world to enjoy this show, but being familiar with the industry terms makes the jokes even better. Can't wait for the 2nd season!

Favorite Web series: Emma Approved
It's not a brand new web series, episodes 59 and 60 aired this week, but since I haven't blogged about it yet, I wanted to include the latest web series produced by Pemberley Digital. Emma Approved is a multi-platform series based on Emma, a novel by Jane Austen. It follows the success of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries which I was hooked on watching last year. Emma Approved is more focused and slower paced that Diaries, but I like it just as much! New episodes are published every Monday and Thursday. It's not too late to catch up on the story! Plus, there are links for each episode to character blogs, social media accounts and weekly fashion files.

Favorite Beauty Purchase: Birchbox - Limited Edition: Modern Mermaid
How perfect is this box?! This is the first time I have ever placed an order with Birchbox, the online monthly beauty subscription service and I could not be more pleased with my purchase. I am not a huge makeup lover, but when you wrap it up in a mermaid theme, I just cannot resist! The packaging design as well as the product selections are fantastic! I have already found a permanent spot in my bag for the mermaid scales compact mirror and I am wearing the COOLA Liplux and the Atelier Cologne today. If you're interested, snag this limited edition box before the end of summer!

What are your favorite things this week?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Is it Spring yet?

5:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon signaled the end of my first week of being a full time employee of The News & Observer! It was a long, productive week peppered with a 1/2 day when I had to be at the new house for the home inspection, an out-of-the-office marketing event in Cary, an early morning networking event with the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce YPN and finally a quiet lunch from Pogo.

After work I came home to a sleepy husband and kitten cuddled up on the couch. For dinner we decided to go to our favorite local Mongolian grill, Crazy Fire. The secret is to use a lot of sauce and to combine teriyaki, soy sauce, garlic oil, lemon pepper, and chopped peanuts with your choice of protein and veggies. Always good, every time!

I slept as long as I could in Saturday morning, but the sun always comes through my window and wakes me up on the weekends. Note - get black out shades for the new house. After brekafast I went to Ross in hopes of finding a few new spring dresses, but no luck. After trying on a few I started to get overheated and frustrated, so I put the dresses back on the racks, called it quits for the day and headed home for lunch, a refreshing shower and an afternoon nap.

Later in the day Aaron and I went to the Raleigh Grande to see Wes Anderson's latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. We both really enjoyed the story and especially Ralph Fiennes' performance. I always enjoy seeing a new Wes Anderson film even though none have surpassed my favorite, which is of course, The Life Aquatic.

After the movie we stopped in to Target, picked up dinner and made it home before the big rain storm came through Raleigh. After the evening rain storms passed, we went to our friend Nick's house for drinks, nighttime target practice with his BB gun and of course, a bonfire.

Still raining on Sunday morning. We made our monthly trip to Costco then Trader Joe's. I spent the afternoon talking and facetiming with family and friends.

The big event of the day was a surprise birthday party for our friend, Ali! We drove out to the Village Tavern in Greensboro to celebrate!

Hope you had a good weekend!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Favorites: March 28

Favorite Song: Be Okay by Oh, Honey
First heard on Glee, then 1 million times after that when I found the video on YouTube. It's such a fun, lighthearted song that fits just perfectly into a Winter/Springtime transitional playlist. It makes me smile every time I listen to it.

Favorite TV Show I Never Knew Existed Until Now: Billy on the Street
How did I not know for so long that my favorite citizen of Eagleton, now Pawnee has a FREAKIN' HILARIOUS SHOW hosted by comedian Billy Eichner?! It's part game show, part celebrity interviews, but mostly just Billy running around NYC, shouting insults at random people on the street. It's the best! Comedy that is not for the faint of heart. This show is not for you pearl clutchers! Everyone else — watch it now.
Favorite Home Decor Item: The Roger Rug in Deep Lake | Lulu & Georgia
I know that I haven't posted anything about this on the blog yet, but Aaron and I bought a house! We're only a few weeks away from closing, which means that all I want to do in my free time is browse through decor sites and home & garden inspiration posts on Pinterest. I can't wait to get in there and start decorating!

I saw this beautiful Lulu & Georgia rug yesterday and thought that it would be a good starting point for our dinging room. Now we need paint, a table, and so much more, but I think a rug is a good place to start. More posts and photos of the house to come!

Favorite Birthday Kitten: Skwisgaar!
Our little poochers is 2 years old today! All he wants to celebrate his day is to lick all of the ranch dressing off my salad, but we don't let him! Happy birthday to the only NC native in our family. Maybe we will get you a new feather stick to celebrate, but probably not because you love old hoodie strings and burlap bags even more than real cat toys!

What are you loving this week?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Favorites: March 14

Favorite Designer Collaboration Announcement: Emily Henderson for Target
Do I love Target? Yes. Do I love reading Emily Henderson's blog and watching her design shows? Yes. Am I super excited that she is the new Home Spokesperson for A Bullseye View, the official Target blog? Yes! Now I just need a house to decorate so I can apply the all of the decorating know-how that I am going to learn from reading her posts.... Still working on that...

Favorite New Kitchen Toy: The Mason Shaker
I first spotted The Mason Shaker in a cocktail recipe post on A Beautiful Mess and now it has a home in our kitchen. The last cocktail shaker we had ended up in the donation box. It was pretty, but it would leak every time I used it. I love that the 3 piece shaker lid will fit on ANY mason jar, which makes it easy to shake up custom cocktails, iced coffee, or shaken iced tea in a snap!

Favorite Cartoon Themed Cookbook: Eating Ooo
"It’s cooking time, Come on wash your hands. We’re going to eat In all Ooo’s lands. There’s Finn and Jake, But there’s no cumin. The meal will never end. It’s cooking time!" This fun, artful cookbook, created by Eric Resnick, is inspired by the Adventure Time series. Recipes include: BMO’s Chicken Lorraine Pizza, Finn’s Root Sword Baguette, Princess Bubblegum’s giant spaghetti IN meatball, and so much more... ALGEBRAIC! I wonder if there is a recipe for Pi Day...?

What are your favorites this week?

Monday, March 3, 2014

I Couldn't Possibly Comment...

For us, this weekend was all about house hunting, Frank Underwood and MOVIES!

On Saturday morning we spent a few hours with our realtor driving around the Triangle for house viewings. We saw a few smaller townhomes in Raleigh and one out in Durham by RTP. None of the houses we saw stook out to us, so we headed home for lunch with hopes that March will bring a good crop of new inventory for us to see.

After lunch we spent the afternoon with our dear friend, Netflix, and finished Season 2 of House of Cards.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I can't get enough of this show. Season 3 won't be released until 2015 and, I'm sure everyone else who has grown to admire Mr. and Mrs. Underwood along with me will agree, that just isn't soon enough! The last scene of Chapter 26 actually gave me goosebumps. It truly is captivating. If you have time and access to Netflix, get on it.

As is usual for us on most Sunday mornings, we looked up a few new recipes to try this week, put together a shopping list and headed over to the Food Lion to stock up. At Aaron's request I'm planning on trying a recipe; Slow Cooker Asian Glazed Chicken from Six Sisters Stuff.

We always try to put our heads together to plan out our weekly menu — it's more fun that way! We try our best to cook and eat at home Monday through Thursday and then treat ourselves with dinner out on Friday.

Later that afternoon we drove downtown to see Jerusalem 3D at the IMAX Theater at Marbles. We went with a couple of other members of The Raleigh Tribe, Raleigh IMAX.
Filmed for the first time in 3D and for the giant screen, Jerusalem immerses audiences into one of the world's most beloved cities. Discover why this tiny piece of land is sacred to three major religions through the stories of Jewish, Christian and Muslim families who call Jerusalem home.
Find out why, after thousands of years, Jerusalem and the Holy Land continue to stir the imagination of billions of people. Unprecedented access to the city's holiest sites, as well as rare and breathtaking aerial footage of the Old City and the Holy Land, combine to make Jerusalem a unique and stunning cinematic experience. 
Before the screening, we had the chance to listen to renowned archaeologist and UNC professor, Dr. Jodi Magness, talk about making the movie, and her ongoing work in Israel. Dr. Magness shared photos of her findings at archaeological sites in Israel and explained the historical significance of Israel; the land, the religions, and the cultures.

The documentary is beautifully shot. The story of living Jerusalem is told by three young women, each from a different quarter of the old city, but who all have a shared love for their homeland. We got to see inside buildings and watch religions celebrations that we would never have been able to see unless we were in Jerusalem at just the right time and members of every community. The director did a fantastic job of showing the living city juxtaposed with how it actually looked in the past. And BONUS it's narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch!!!

If you have a chance to go a screening, do it! Everyone in our group enjoyed the movie and learned something new.

We ended our weekend by trying to stay awake to watch the Oscars, but ended up falling asleep on the couch after the celebrity selfie, but before any of the big awards were announced. No big surprises or upsets and just a so-so awards show.

Hope you had a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wizards May Dwell Amongst Muggles in Holly Springs

As we have been looking at house listings online, Aaron and I will often comment and make jokes about street names that remind us of an inside joke or relate to a familiar pop culture reference (fellow fans of The League will understand why we laughed when we looked at a house on Shiva Ct.).

In my hometown, Columbia, MD, many streets take their names from famous works of art and literature. The neighborhood of Hobbit's Glen takes its street names from the works of J. R. R. Tolkien; Running Brook, from the poetry of Robert Frost; and Clemens Crossing, was inspired by author Mark Twain.

North Carolina is no different. A neighborhood in Holly Springs, NC called Holly Pointe uses many iconic names from Harry Potter vernacular. In this community you can find house models and street names inspired by the wizarding world.

A closer look at the street names
Holly Pointe street names include Gillyweed Court, Longbottom Trail, Diggory Drive, Tonks Trail and Gryffindor Lane. Each house model has a bewitching title including, The Dobby, The Grimmauld, The Portkey, The Hedwig and The Burrow.

I'd like to live in The Portkey on Gryffindor Lane, please!

What pop culture or interesting street names can be found in your community?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weekend After the Storm

Snow storm Pax brought only a few inches of snow, but it hit us really hard here in Raleigh. Almost everyone we know in our area got caught in the storm or delayed by it. Aaron and I both had extended drives home from work on Wednesday afternoon (over 5 hours!). Needless to say, after making it through the storm and then catching up with work after  the snow cleared, we were so happy to see Friday afternoon arrive and ready for the weekend to begin.

I spent Friday morning scraping the multiple layers of ice and snow off of my car to make the slow and precarious drive into work. Not many others made it in, mostly due to schools being closed and icy road conditions.

After work I drove home to pick up Aaron and then we went up to Briar Creek to officially kick off our house hunt by meeting with our new realtor, Patty. We talked about what we are looking for in our first home and she explained how the home search process works.

After the meeting we were both equally very excited and very hungry so we headed over to the Carolina Ale House for dinner. This was one of the very first restaurants we went to when we moved to Raleigh in 2012 and surprisingly, we haven't been back since. When we walked in the door we were surprised how busy it was (it was still early for dinner and we assumed people were still hiding out from the snow and staying home) and then we remembered that it was Valentine's Day!

Later that evening we watched a movie called A.C.O.D. which stands for Adult Children of Divorce. The movie stars Adam Scott who plays a man caught in the crossfire of his parents' 15-year divorce. He discovers that he was unknowingly part of a study on divorced children and is enlisted in a follow-up years later, which wreaks new havoc on his family.

We spent most of the day looking through the website that realtor set up for us. We viewed over 100 listings and categorized each on into yes/no/maybe tabs. After our online search we met up with Carmen for dinner downtown at The Raleigh Times before calling it a night.

We spent most of Sunday cleaning the apt, doing laundry, grocery shopping and look at more house listings online. We finally decided to start watching the Netflix original series, House of Cards. We watched 5 episodes in a row, and now, obviously, we are hooked!

What adventures did you go on this weekend?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Weekend Recap

After work, Aaron and I hosted a Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony viewing party pot luck at our place for a few friends. Our theme o America theme. I grilled up a bunch of hot dogs and our guests brought side salads, and an Olympic rings appetizer. For dessert we Olympic flame cupcake torches with whipped topping dyed yellow to look like fire.

We watched the opening presentation and the parade of nations, but called it quits before the torch lighting. We decided to switch from watching Sochi coverage to getting snuggled up and watched Nebraska.

On Saturday evening Aaron and I celebrated our 8-year Dateiversary with dinner at The Peddler Steak House off of Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh. This is the second year in a row that we have picked a steak house for our celebratory dinner (last year we went to The Angus Barn, my choice).

The Peddler is family owned and has been serving fine seafood and aged beef since it opened in 1969. The restaurant is surprisingly small with only a few tables in the dining room and dark colors. Even though the decor is dated, Aaron and I both agreed that it should stay that way to retain it's intimate atmosphere and true mid century steak house feel. The part of the kitchen with the grill is open to the dining room and you can watch your meal being cooked.

They do not take small party reservations so Aaron and I went on the early side hoping to beat the dinner rush, but we still had a 1-hour wait before we were seated. A long wait for a restaurant that isn't downtown, yes, but it was worth it.

Prime Rib and New York Strip steaks are cut to size by The Peddler who brings them to your table on a wheeled cart and proudly educated you on the color and marbling of their aged meat. After you send your meat selection off to be seared over live charcoal, there is a full salad bar offered with every meal and baked potato fixings waiting for you at your table. Oh also, ordering both wine and dessert is totally worth it, especially if you are celebrating.

Aaron and I enjoyed a wonderful 4 course meal, reminisced about our past 7 dateiversaries, and we took some time to look at our 1st-year-of-marriage goals list that we created while we were on our honeymoon. We arrived at 6pm and didn't leave until after 9pm, which is longer than a typical dinner out, but I couldn't have had a better partner to spend my time with.

We woke up early to beat the weekend morning rush at Costco. With a short list we clocked in at under 20 minutes, in the door, through checkout, and back to the car.

After lunch we met our friends Kelly and Carmen at our favorite local craft beer shop, Bottle Revolution for a drink and to try to win their annual beer raffle. Each member of Bottle Rev's beer club gets 1 ticket for a chance at exclusive beers. We had 3 tickets between us and all 3 tickets were called! After celebrating our victory we walked over to Buffalo Brothers for dinner.

Hope you had a good weekend!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Favorites: February 7

Favorite Bracket: Pie vs. Cake
Yes, I know that brackets are most often used for sports match-ups or for figuring out who is sabotaging Barney Stinson's attempts to pick up girls, but the Out Sate Pie vs. Cake bracket is way better than any of those. Voting for your favorite dessert is easy as pie! Visit the Our State Pie vs. Cake Tournament page to cast your vote. Each week, winners will advance and the bracket will get smaller. Cake or pie, which one do you think will come out on top?

Favorite Way to Search for Recipes: Tablespoon/rainbow
Sometimes I have a container of extra ingredients hanging out in our refrigerator ready to be used in our next dish, but sometimes I'm not sure what I want to do with them. When this happens I use various websites to run an ingredient search. I stumbled across Tablespoon in this way. I was poking around the site looking for a recipe to use up a bunch of leftover celery, and I discovered the Rainbow search! Not exactly practical for every meal....or is it?

Broad City
Favorite New TV Show: Broad City
Broad City follows two women throughout their daily lives in New York City, making the smallest and mundane events hysterical and disturbing to watch all at the same time. This show is brash, ridiculous, and it's hilarious. Not for everyone, but I can't get enough.
Shu Okada
Favorite Mermaid Illustration: Mermaid by Shu Okada
Freelance illustrator, Shu Okada, was born in Tokyo, Japan. She uses watercolor and colored pencil to create her beautiful illustrations. She has taken inspiration from aspects many cultures such as traditional clothing and architecture. She loves how they can talk about history or tell a story without words and influence people in different ways. Her goal is to create paintings that imply her own feelings, and to make people feel something warm through them like they are reading an old children’s book.

What are you loving this week?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

World-Class Travel from RDU's New Terminal 1

When Aaron and I travel, we usually prefer to pack up the car and drive, but when the trip is too far, or we need to get to our destination fast, what else is there to do but book a ticket and head to RDU?

Unless we find a great deal with another airline, we almost always fly Southwest Airlines. At the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Southwest flies out of Terminal 1, so we hardly ever make it over to the luxurious Terminal 2, unless it's a quick curbside stop when we are picking up friends and family.

As long as we have been living in NC and traveling out of RDU, I have been envious of travelers flying in and out of Terminal 2 with it's updated amenities, natural light, and new restaurants, but now I will envy no more! Terminal 1 has been going through a big reconstruction and it's almost ready to open.

Parts of Terminal 1 first opened in 1955 and areas including the current baggage claim were expanded in the 1970's. Even though this section of the RDU campus is older, the areas are well kept and as comfortable as any airport can be, but it's clearly small and outdated.

Work on the reconstruction of Terminal 1 began in July of 2012 and RDU officials say that the new, updated section, which will be modern and sleek with natural light, is on budget and on schedule to open this Spring. The older sections are slated to be demolished shortly after.

And now to the good stuff - what's on everyone's mind before heading up to the skies? Food! In the renovated Terminal 1, you will be able to find a nosh at five new dining options including Char-Grill (American, Raleigh), La Tapenade Mediterranean Café (Mediterranean), Salsaritas Fresh Cantina (Mexican), and the ACC American Café (American, regional), the first officially licensed restaurant from the Atlantic Coast Conference, sure to be a big hit with local college basketball fans.

If you want a sneak peak at the new features and amenities, mark your calendar for Saturday, February 15 from 10am-2pm, when RDU is inviting the public to a a preview of the new Terminal 1. Plan for about 90 minutes for a self-guided tour. The open house event will feature:

  • Live music from local bands
  • Giveaway stations throughout the terminal
  • A chance to meet the creators of the new permanent art installations
  • Interactive exhibits with Southwest Airlines, The ACC and RDU programs
  • A children’s activity area presented by Marbles Kids Museum
  • Food and retail samples from The Shops of RDU
  • A peek behind-the-scenes at baggage handling

The new section of Terminal 1 will have it's official grand opening on Sunday, March 2nd.

Visit the official RDU blog, RDU Cruising Altitude (seriously, the BEST airport blog I have ever seen, not that I read a lot of airport blogs...) and check the RDU Facebook page for updates and to peek behind the scenes of the Terminal 2 Bag System.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meatballs, Pong Balls, and Footballs, Oh My!

After the brittle temperatures that came to Raleigh last week, I was happy to have a chance to open our balcony door on Sunday and let a little bit of fresh air in. Good news is - we made it through January!

Later in the evening we bundled up and headed downtown to meet a few friends for dinner and drinks at a new restaurant, Oak City Meatball Shoppe. Aaron and I had tried to get a table for dinner earlier in January, but the wait was too long. This time we made it to a table with only a short wait.

The Oak City Meatball experience is great for MTO (made to order) lovers. Begin by selecting one of the five meatball offerings: traditional beef, chicken, veggie, spicy pork, and the ball of the day. Step 2 is picking on of the sauce selections, which include classic tomato, parm cream, pesto, meat sauce, mushroom gravy, and the sauce of the day.

Time to eat? Nope - you're not done yet! The last decision you can make is what side or salad you want to try with your. With around 30 combinations of meatballs, sauces, and sides, this menu will never get boring.

For our first time dining at the meatball shoppe, I knew that I wanted to stick to the basics and see if their classic Italian offerings would hold up. I decided to try the traditional beef meatballs with classic tomato sauce over risotto.

The result? Two thumbs up on the whole dish! The meatballs were flavorful, the sauce tasted fresh, and the risotto was perfectly creamy and mixed in with the sauce very well. I almost forgot to take a photo because I was so excited to dig in! Actually... that happens a lot...

Everyone at our table ordered a different meatball combination, so we had fun trying each others dishes. Family style! The mac and cheese was voted best side dish among our group. Also, the meatballs are fork and knife size, not toothpick size, so I had plenty of left overs to enjoy for lunch on Saturday.

After dinner Aaron and I hugged our friends goodbye and then headed home for the night to rest up after a long week.

Saturday morning started with bagel sandwiched at Bruegger's and a few errands around town. After breakfast we made a quick trip to Harris Teeter to pick up Superbowl food supplies and then I took my car to at the new Take 5 location on Creedmoor Rd.

The big event of the day was the 2014 Winter Beer Olympics at our friends house in Durham. We got together into 4 teams of 3 to compete for the championship! We had representation from Ireland, Jamaica, Ohio (not a county, but we allowed it), and my team, Georgia (the country?). We played through 7 out of 8 events before we called it a day and in the end team Ohio earned the gold medal.

February 2nd, also known as Ground Day, also know as the 8th anniversary of when Aaron and I first started dating. Last year we celebrated with dinner at The Angus Barn, but this year we haven't decided what we will do to celebrate.

After the games on Saturday we needed a bit of recovery time so we decided that it was finally a good time to watch the new Discovery mini-series, Klondike, that has been sitting on the DVR for a few weeks.

As we were watching Klondike, we read the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman's unexpected death. I found the news first on Buzzfeed, but it quickly spread across all of the social media and news channels. It is very sad to hear of his passing.

Finally, our weekend wrapped up with Superbowl XLVIII. I'm sure that anyone who is reading this post knows all about the game, the halftime show, and most importantly, the commercials, so I won't go into any of that. I will tell you that Aaron and I whipped up a delicious spread and the star of the evening was not my annual go-to dish, Hot Pink Salsa, but a batch of Frank's Redhot Buffalo Chicken Dip that Aaron picked.

Below is the recipe that we used. If you click through the source link, there are recipe variations.

Frank's Redhot Buffalo Chicken Dip
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Frank's Redhot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
1/2 cup ranch dressing
20 oz. cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup 4 Cheese Mexican cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°F
Combine all ingredients in a 1-quart baking dish
Bake for 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through
Serve with crackers, chips or chopped vegetables

Recipe Source:

What adventures did you find this weekend?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Resources for Finding Things to Do in Raleigh

Earlier this week, before Winter Storm Leon arrived in Raleigh, I was invited to stop by Offline offices. I had the opportunity to meet a few of the team members and sit down with them to talk about the website and my user experience. During the conversation David, one of the creators of Offline, asked me how I find out what's going on in the area. This inspired me to put together a list of the online resources that I often use when I am looking for fun things to do in Raleigh.

If you are new to the Triangle, in town for a weekend visit, or if you are expecting company and looking for new idea to fill in your calendar, these resources will help you see what events and activities are coming up.

Event Calendars
 • Yelp Events - Even if you don't have a Yelp account you can easily update the website to feature even listings in your area.

 • - Upcoming events, movies, concerts, and more. Easy to navigate and search by event type, city, time and holiday.

 • Downtown Raleigh Alliance - One of the best event calendars to find out what's happening in Downtown Raleigh. View each month at a glance. Subscribe for weekend updates in your inbox.

 • North Carolina State Fairgrounds - Most people venture to the fair grounds once a year for the NC State Fair, but there is so much more to do at the fair grounds all year long! Events calendar listed by month. Most events have inexpensive admission and many are completely free.

 • Live Work Play - Raleigh, NC - From live music, to local cuisine, to one-of-a-kind events, you can find out what's going on in our beautiful city!
 • Red Hat Amphitheater - My favorite place in the city to see live music! It's in the heart of downtown, so after shows it's easy to keep the night going at your favorite downtown spot.

 • The Triangle Explorer - Regular posts about things to do, places to go, and upcoming events happening in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill.

 • Triangle Food Blog - Weekly roundup of local restaurant news, food truck roundups, and food related events.

& More
 • Offline - Not quite an event calendar, but more like a directory of experiences to be discovered in Raleigh. There are featured lists with fun themes like Sweet Tooth, Cheap Dates, and Shop Local that will challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone. Users can upload photos and check off experiences as you adventure your way around town.

 • visitRaleigh - The website for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau has a good Things to Do business directory and a section with 1/2 day, one-day, and two-day itineraries. There is also a calendar of events, but it's not my favorite.

 • eNewsletters - I have signed up to receive email newsletters for my favorite restaurants and businesses in the area. I will often discover events this way that are not listed on a website or anywhere else.

If you live in or around Raleigh and have websites or suggestions for other online resources, say hello and leave a link and a description in the comments below.

What adventures do you have planned for this weekend?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hammock Pack Review: January 2014

Good morning! If you are a Triangle resident you know are probably enjoying a SNOW DAY! Aaron and I are both working from home today. We have been watching the road conditions on the news and it doesn't look good.

The first Raleigh snow storm in 4 years is the perfect time to enjoy a stay-cation in a box! My January Hammock Pack arrived just in time before the snow started to fall.

I chose Hammock Pack because each box is filled with not just food or beauty products, but a variety of artisan items, many of which can be found on Etsy. Each box fits under the umbrella on a monthly theme. The website states,
"Every month, you'll receive a surprise pack filled with everything you need to take a much needed getaway without even leaving your home. Whether it’s as simple as a movie night or mementos from that exotic vacation you can’t find the time to take. So relax and let a little “me time” come to you."
The card that came in this month's box reads, "Let's start off the New Year with sand beneath our feet and the sun on our faces. South Carolina is home to beautiful beaches, lovely cities, and some very skilled crafters. Charleston, in particular, is producing one-of-a-kind marshmallows. Next door, in Johns Island, you'll find delicious gluten-free snacks and luxurious bath products. After your trip, we hope you're relaxed and rested for next month's doorstep getaway."I have never been to Charleston, but based on what in this box, I think that I would like it!

This box included a package of Bourbon Praline 'Mallows from Haypenny Confections, a tube of Body Wash and a Moisture Stick both from Deep Steep, a pair of Cinnamon Pecan Cookies from Grey Ghost Bakery, and a Berry Good Bar from Nicole's Nutty Goodness.

My favorite item in this box is the package of Bourbon Praline 'Mallows from Haypenny Confections. I picked up a package of their White Chocolate Peppermint Mini 'Mallows from the NOFO Market back in December, and I loved each one. The Bourbon Praline 'Mallows are equally delicious. I can't wait to try them in a cup of hot chocolate.

How did you treat yourself in January?