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.

 • Triangle.com - 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.

Blogs
 • 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

image
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?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Oak City Sister Love

My sister was in town this weekend! I am always happy to have some good sister time when I can convince her to break away from her busy, busy life being an AHA superstar. Other than Triangle Restaurant Week and a food truck roundup in Durham, there wasn't too much going on in the area so I didn't make any big plans. We would have used our weekend time to go for a hike at Umstead, but it's just too cold! Stupid January...grr. 

Friday
We all agreed to venture to North Hills on Friday evening to have dinner at Cowfish, which has been on our "check it out" list since it opened. Sushi + burgers? Yes please! Cowfish doesn't take dinner reservations so I called the restruant around 5:30 before we left our apartment to ask what the wait time was looking like. The seating hostess told me that there was currently no wait, so we packed it up and headed over right away.

We arrived 20 minutes later to find a line almost out the door and a 45 minute wait! But, we were committed so we put our name down, were assigned a fish called Wanda, (not really, our fish was called Fred Finstone) and were handed a buzzer that would let us know when our table was up.

Luckily our buzzer had a good range so we left Cowfish and walked next door to World of Beer. Walking into World of Beer for the first time felt like giant golden gilded doors were thrown open and we were ushered into a palace of beer with a cozy, relaxed vibe. Yeah. Seriously. Why haven't we gone there before? All three of us ordered pints from the mixed draughts list and all three of us were very pleased with the results.

After our pints our buzzer went off and we braced ourselves for the cold on the way back over to Cowfish. The first time you dine at Cowfish it is a good idea to ask your server to walk you through each page of the menu. I am so glad that our waitress did just this. I would have been lost among the 100 pages of apps, salads, sandwiches, burgers, sushi, buger/sushi combos, burgushi, etc. It's a hefty menu.

After re-reading the entire menu I decided to order a bento box with the slider of the day and a sushi roll called, "The Boss". The bento box comes with 3 sides so I picked bacon coleslaw, sweet & spicy cucumber salad, and sweet potato fries. I totally forgot to take a photo because I was enjoying my meal so much, but if you want a visual, Google it. Or better yet, come visit and we will go to Cowfish for an amazing dinner. I forgot to mention that we split a tall, Jim Beam, boozy milkshake. Yummmm.

After dinner all we wanted was couch time so we came back to the apartment, caught up on a few TV shows, and Dana taught me how to crochet!

Saturday
Saturday morning started with homemade breakfast sandwiches and hot beverages. Eventually we got dressed and ventured out into the daylight. We stopped at Old Navy, then Whole Foods for snacks. After lunch we happened to have 3 hours to kill so we saw Wolf of Wall Street and then went to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner.

Sunday
We slept in then talked about going out for brunch, but no one us wanted to get dressed right away and it was still cold. In the end I made Videri chocolate chunk pancakes and we watched Shark Tank.

After breakfast Dana and I went to Kohl's in Brier Creek where she changed my life by teaching me how to find the perfect bra. Seriously. Life changing. We also picked up a couple of new blouses and racked up some points on my Kohl's rewards card.

We left and went to pick up lunch to-go from Guasaca, a must whenever Dana is in town and then headed home to video chat with the family, eat our Guasaca, beautify ourselves with mud masks, discuss our shared love for Disney's Frozen, and practice my new crochet skills. Dana headed back to Greensboro Sunday evening and we got ready for the work week. Why can't every weekend be a sister weekend?

Hope you have a great week!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zinda - Triangle Restaurant Week Review


As a rule for restaurant weeks, we only go to restaurants that we have never been to before. For Triangle Restaurant Week 2014 we chose to try Zinda on Fayetteville St. The restaurant is beautiful and has a very relaxing vibe. This could be unique to a quiet, Thursday evening dining time on a very cold night, but from the moment I was seated until we left, I felt like we were dining at a day spa. Our dining experience was the perfect end to a long workday. I left the restaurant feeling very serene and calm, not to mention full of delicious food.

It was FREEZING in Raleigh tonight so I decided to start with a pot of loose leaf Jasmine Pearl Hand Rolled White Hot Tea. Each pot is brewed at the table and is continually refiled throughout the meal. For 2 people, it will definitely last you through dinner without loosing any flavor.


1st course - Malai Kofta in Makhani sauce. 2nd course -  Hong Kong Pan Fried Noodles with Beef, chicken, shrimp, mushrooms, & Chinese broccoli.


3rd course - How could I resist the Tandoor S'mores?! Chocolate and marshmallows on a crisp coconut wafer cookie baked in a tandoor oven paired with vanilla ice cream. Every course was flavorful and well balanced!

I give Zinda 4 out of 5 stars. I am holding off on the last star because enjoying dinner and drinks there is definitely a splurge. We probably wouldn't go back for dinner without a gift card or unless it was a special occasion. Maybe I will try the lunch menu for a more wallet friendly meal.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Tu B’Shevat Dessert Experiment

Aaron and I were invited by our friends B +A to join them for an informal Tu B'shvat dinner seder with friends at their home in the Five Points neighborhood of Raleigh.

Tu B'Shevat, is a holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. This minor holiday is commonly celebrated as an ecological awareness day. Dried fruits, fresh fruits, and tree nuts are eaten and in some areas trees are planted in celebration.

Our lovely hostess split the menu up into four parts based on the four types of fruits that grow on trees. B asked everyone to bring a dish that incorporated at least one fruit from one course, each kind representing a different way that trees give to us, as well as representing our own spiritual growth:

1.  Appetizers: Fruits With Tough Exteriors & Soft Interiors (Bananas, Almonds, Coconuts, Pistachios, Walnuts, Avocado, Pomegranate, Citrus, etc.)
Fruits that appear to be inedible at first, but have a delicious center remind us not to make the mistake of judging others by their outer appearance before getting to know what lies within. 

2. Salads: Fruits that are entirely edible (Seedless grapes, figs, berries, tomatoes, cranberries, etc.)
These fruits remind of a feeling of wholeness when nothing is wasted and when life at it’s easiest.

3. Entrees: Fruits with small, inedible seeds that must be removed before we can eat them (pears, apples, squash, pumpkin, etc.)
These fruits remind us of the mindfulness and care we must take in caring for ourselves, others around us, and the environment.

4. Desserts: Fruits with soft exteriors and pits inside (apricots, peaches, cherries, mango, plums, olives, etc.)
Although we discard the pits of these fruits, they are the seeds, the means to rebirth. These fruits symbolize the potential within us that we have not tapped.

Usually, when we are invited to a pot luck, I am on top of it with a recipe idea... This time, I was busy with work all week and didn't even get around to looking at the four courses until Saturday morning.

I texted B to see if there were any holes in the menu and she let me know that no one had signed up to bring a dessert. Perfect! I love making desserts. From the list of fruits, I decided to go with cherries and peaches.

The first thing that came to mind was pie, but I didn't really have time to figure out how to make a pie from scratch, and we didn't want to buy frozen pies after a recent battle that we lost with our oven during Christmas that left us with a burnt pie crust.

Answer - Quick Cobbler!

Quick cobbler using Beer Bread mixes that I still have stocked up from my days at a Tastefully Simple consultant and a recipe from the website. Aaron and I did a bit of running around Raleigh to find two beers that matched the flavors of each cobbler. We used Lambic Blegian Cherry Beer + cherry pie filling for cobbler #1 and we used RJ Rockers Son of a Peach Wheat Ale + peach pie filling for cobbler #2.

Quick Cobbler #1 - Cherry
Quick Cobbler #2 - Peach

The quick cobblers mixed up perfectly and looked good. They turned out to be part quick bread and part cobbler - hence 'quick cobbler'. We taste tested a little bite, but we couldn't be sure how good they really were until dessert was served.

The result? The beer bread topping was way too dense and not sweet enough. The craft beers were totally lost and the flavor became moot amidst the gummy bread. None of the other guests made any mention of our poorly executed dessert, but Aaron and I both knew, this recipe was a flop. Oh well, trying new recipes on the fly doesn't always work out for the best.

The good news is that we had a wonderful time with good friends, and together we started a new tradition.

L’Chaim!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Triangle Restaurant Week - Winter 2014


I am not a fan of January.

Sorry to all of you who celebrate a birthday or an anniversary in January, but it really is the worst month of the year. January is COLD. If we get any winter weather in the Triangle, it usually shows up in January. As we all know January is the rebound month that you must suffer through after spending November and December basking in all of the holiday season love. January = no good.

Yep, I've felt some strong negativity about the first month of the year for a long time, but guess what - I just found a reason to maybe, sorta-kinda like January... just a little bit. (I'm saying that out loud in the voice of Lily's doctor from How I Met Your Mother).

Triangle Restaurant Week!

Restaurant weeks are recently new to me. I'm sure they have been around in every city that I have lived in, I just never paid attention. My first experience was last August when Aaron and I kicked off my birthday celebration with dinner at Gravy (ohhhh, I'm having memories of the risotto balls...YUM) during Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week - and we loved it!

Triangle Restaurant Week is a week-long event featuring over 80 restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas. Restaurants will offer fixed-price, three-course menu options. A 3-course lunch is $15 and a 3-course dinner is $20 or $30 per person.

The event kicks off Monday, Jan. 20 and runs through Jan. 26. The full like up of participating restaurants and their menus can be found at the very well designed TRW website, www.trirestaurantweek.com. Reservations are recommended.

Now the really hard part - WHICH RESTAURANT TO CHOOSE? We are going to stick with participating restaurants in Raleigh, just because it's easier to make it to a week night dinner close to home, but it will be a tough choice just looking at the list. 

Any suggestions?

Be sure to follow Triangle Restaurant Week on Twitter #TRW and especially Facebook for updates and giveaways. It looks like the TRW Facebook page is being updated multiple times a day with $50 gift cards giveaways to local restaurants!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Southern Comforts

Big Boss Aces & Ates + Apple Ale Shine
Much like the rest of the US, Raleigh weather has been gross. Cold. Rain. Grey skies. Blech.

It has not been as cold here as other locations in the country, and our temperatures didn't drop down below 9Âș, but hey, for the South, it's cold!

On the way home from work yesterday, as I was driving through slow "rush hour" traffic on wet roads, I decided that I needed a warm, cozy evening. I am so glad that we live in a place where it is easy to indulge in the comfort of Southern food and stay close to home.

I knew exactly what I wanted to beat the end-of-the week, rainy wintertime blues - a warm bowl of shrimp and cheddar grits at Relish Cafe. Aaron was easy to convince. As soon as I mentioned Relish, he was in.

With dinner I decided to try an Apple Ale Shine cocktail. If you are unfamiliar with the moonshine cocktail trend, here is the description from the menu:
CAROLINA “SHINES”
A new line of Moonshines distilled right here in North Carolina. These spirits are handmade with real fruit–no artificial flavors, color additives or extracts are added. The “shines” are handcrafted in small batches and triple-distilled to create ultra-smooth, superior quality spirits. Try one of our creations or have on the rocks–served in a mason jar!
The Apple Ale was a mix of apple pie‘shine and ginger ale. It tastes like sparkling apple pie with the perfect amount of cinnamon and ginger. If you're in the mood for a comfort food cocktail that will warm your belly and help the stress of the work week slip away, order this. The only way it would have been better is if Relish offered a tasting flight of the other flavors.

Warm, cheesy grits, a glass of moonshine, a slice of chocolate chess pie, and the company of my love left me, as I expected, in a perfectly happy, cozy mood. It was still raining a little when we left the restaurant to go home, but it's didn't bother me.

After dinner we watched Her, a new release written and directed by Spike Jonze starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson about a melancholy writer who develops a relationship with an operating system that's designed to meet his every need.We both really enjoyed the movie and thought it has an insightful message with a beautiful visual feel.

What do you do to keep that cozy feeling in the winter?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

We Survived the Polar Vortex of 2014!


It was so cold today that Wake County declared 2 hour delay for all schools.

It was so cold today that zoos kept their resident polar bears indoors.

It was so cold today that the digital on my dashboard didn't turn on until I was half way to work.

It was so cold today that buckets of water could be thrown into the air to create instant snow.

It was so cold today that half of North Carolina was without power.

It was so cold today that EVERYONE talked about how cold it was today.

Winter Whiles


This was the first weekend after the holiday season ended and even after two Wednesdays off in a row, Every year I always get hit by the winter blues, even when we were living in sunny Southern Florida, my body still went through the same seasonal change.

Over the years I have learned the best ways to personally combat that grey, gloomy sadness that the limited amount of sunlight brings.

Strategy #1 is to get enough sleep and wake up early (no later than 8am) even if I'm not going to work.

Strategy #2 is to fill up my calendar. Adventures, testing new recipes, reading, watching movies, going out to new places for dinner, going to the gym, getting together with friends, etc. Staying busy, entertained, and focused on a to-do list and leaves me feeling good because I get a positive buzz from accomplishment.

Friday after work Aaron and I enjoyed a quiet dinner together at the Crazy Fire Mongolian Grill located in the Leesville Town Center. I really like going here - it's kind of like interactive dining. All of the ingredients are laid out buffet-style ready for you to pick and choose which ones will go into your bowl and the cooks use long metal blades that represent the swords that ancient Mongolian warriors used to stir-fry your dish! My favorite combo is beef, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts, teriyaki sauce, lemon ginger sauce, garlic oil, chopped peanuts, and a dash of lemon pepper. Yum!

On Saturday morning we ventured over to the NC Fairgrounds to check out the The First in Flight Cat Club 12th Annual “Meowing in the New Year” TICA Cat Show. Oh yes we did.

A Skwisgaar doppelgÀnger!
Kitten check
Cat Pageant gold!
It's an annual cat show that brings cat breeds and judges from all over the country. I had never been to any type of animal show, dog, cat, horse other than the State Fair, so I thought it would be interesting to check out. We saw all different ages and breeds of cats and I even learned all about award winning Maine Coons from a random cat lovin' guy standing next to me at a judging.

I don't think Skwisgaar would be a good pageant cat, although I am certain he would win Grand Supreme in the biggest pooch class.

After the cat show we moved on to check out a free hot tubs & swim spa show next door and then we met up with our friends Kelly and Carmen at the Raleigh Flea Market to help them pick out a kitchen table for their new house!

Even though it was gloomy and grey all day long, Sunday was a wonderful day. We watched the season 3 premiere of Sherlock and later I watched the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey. I did other things around the apartment, but Sherlock was the most important, obviously.

Hope you had a good weekend!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tea in the Triangle - Downton Abbey Season 4 Premiere


Downton Abbey is back! Season 4 will premiere in the US tonight with a 2 hour opening episode that will pick up 6 months after the tragic death of brand new father, Matthew Crawley. I have to confess, I have already watched Season 4, but that won't stop me from watching it again and following along!

Just as watching Mad Men inspires me to dream about having the perfect home bar set up in our home one day, Downton Abbey inspires me to learn everything I can about the ritual of Afternoon Tea.

I shouldn't even tell you how many historical articles, blog posts, and YouTube videos I have watched recently in the effort to learn the proper way to host a tea service. Milk first? Savories before sweets? Proper way to eat a scone?? Serve from the left?!? It seems like an exhausting endeavor, with a WIDE margin of error, but even so, I get excited thinking about having my girl friends over for tea one day.

Besides, the Dowager Countess won't be there to scold me when I decide to eat the sweets first and serve finger-sized bagel bites with lox and cream cheese alongside my favorite chai tea - I will have my tea my way! Cheers!

In honor of the US season 4 premiere, I have put together a short guide to tea in the Triangle for those of you who are fellow Downton lovers like me, or for local tea lovers. If you know of any other local retailers or tea service locations, don't hesitate to let me know in the comments.


Places to Buy Tea in the Triangle
Tin Roof Teas // 419 Daniels St, Raleigh, NC 27605

NOFO Market // 2014 Fairview Road, Raleigh NC 27608

The Olde English Tea Room // 219 South White St. Wake Forest, NC 27587

Trader Joe's // 3000 Wake Forest Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609
Not a local tea distributor, but some of my favorite teas in our cupboard came from Trader Joe's.  


Places to go for Tea Service in the Triangle
Umstead hotel and Spa // 100 Woodland Pond Dr, Cary, NC 27513
Served in the hotel lobby lounge Wednesday – Sunday from 2:30-4pm. Guest will enjoy individual pots of tea, and a three course tea with sandwiches, scones and a 3 tiered array of sweets. Live harpist accompaniment adds to the soothing environment.

If you would like a glimpse at the Umstead's afternoon tea service, be sure to read Afternoon Tea at The Umstead Hotel and Spa by local food blogger, Kristen Baughman, on the visitRaleigh Blog.

The Olde English Tea Room // 219 South White St. Wake Forest, NC 27587
Nestled in historic downtown Wake Forest, The Olde English Tea Room & Gift Shoppe is known for having a quaint ambiance and two enchanting settings: the bright and cheerful Victorian room, and the Library, which offers a more serene mood. Both rooms are enhanced with classical music, candle light or fresh flowers, fireplaces, table linens, and china. Full menu of High Tea, Afternoon Tea, and Low Tea as well as group luncheons and special occasions. all served in the Victorian room.

The Carolina Inn // 211 Pittsboro St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Served in the cozy hotel lobby adorned with antique furniture or the elegant Piedmont Dining Room overlooking our garden terrace Thursday through Sunday beginning at 2:30pm. Guest will enjoy individual pots of seasonal tea, three assorted tea sandwiches, savories and sweets per person, chocolate covered strawberries and scones. By appointment only.

The Washington Duke Inn // 3001 Cameron Blvd, Durham, NC 27705
In remembrance of more genteel times, afternoon ea is served in the Fairview Dining Room, Wednesday - Sunday from 2:30pm - 4:30pm. The Classic Tea offers guests a wide selection of teas from Republic of Tea. Served with a variety of tea sandwiches, fresh homemade scones and a variety of hand crafted sweets.

Daisy Cakes // 401 A Foster St, Durham, NC 27701
Escape the hustle and bustle of the daily grind and relax with a soothing cup of tea and delicious finger sandwiches and pastries. The menu changes seasonally and they offer a variety of gluten free options. Tea is served on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and  Thursdays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. The price is $20 per person and reservations within 48 hrs are required.

Links

Cheers to a new season!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Recharge, Recalibrate, and Restart

Happy New Year! 2014 is here whether you like it or not. I have decided to use the New Year as an opportunity to refresh this blog.

New Years Eve
Earlier in the week we talked about maybe going to First Night Raleigh to watch the Acorn Drop, but after going back-and-forth about it, we decided to pass this year. We treated ourselves with dinner at The Cheesecake Factory then went home for a Can't Hardly Wait screening and Twitter chat #barrymanilow with Ethan Embry. After the movie we watched the Raleigh Acorn Drop and went to bed shortly after.

New Years Day
The second Wednesday in a row that we were both off from work. I always wondered what the work week would feel like if we had Wednesdays off in addition to the weekend. Now I know - on the positive side it allows for more time for hobbies and napping, but on the negative side it makes Thursday feel like a second Monday, and who needs two Mondays every week? Not me.

To celebrate the day I cooked up a pot of Hoppin' John for the first time ever. Recently, I discovered that it is a southern tradition to eat black-eyed peas (they represent coins and prosperity) and corn bread (because it's the color of gold) to bring good luck in the new year. With a whole day at home, I figured, why not? My trial was a success!

After lunch we walked a brisk lap around Lake Lynn then I spent some time catching up on blog reading. We finished the first day of the year with a few episodes of Burning Love, a late dinner of leftovers and kitten playtime.

2014
The previous 12 months were really big for us. We kicked off the year traveling with family. We celebrated 4 weddings with friends and family and we worked together to plan our own wedding. I started a new job. Aaron went sky diving! We got married! We We celebrated the holidays in Maryland and in North Carolina.

We have a few big goals for 2014 and I have a handful of resolutions. The biggest one is that we hope to become home owners this year! I am so excited to start our house search and even more excited to furnish and decorate our future home.

Of course, there are the goals that I set for myself every year at the beginning of January; workout more, learn to cook new dishes, spend more time learning a new hobby, save more. This year I have taken these resolutions a level deeper and set specific, attainable goals for myself.

  • Complete my first Project Life album to document our wedding day and our honeymoon to Bryson City, NC.
  • Take Marie Forleo's advice and figure out how to "Never do anything ‘just for the money.’"
  • Make a batch of home made marshmallows from scratch.
  • Get to the gym a minimum of once a week.
  • Cook a fantastic steak dinner.
  • Plan two weekend trips to explore NC.
Cheers to a new year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goodbye 2013


Where I Went
St. Lucia // Antigua // St. Martin // St. Thomas // San Juan, Puerto Rico // Raleigh, NC // Greensboro, NC // Akron, OH // Columbia, MD // Annapolis, MD // Lake Lure, NC // Buffalo, NY //Niagara on the Lake, Canada // Bryson City, NC // Baltimore, MD

What I Did
Celebrated the New Year at a deck party on the Celebrity Summit Cruise in Barbaos // Went hiking in a volcano and went scuba diving in St. Lucia // Pet a shark in St. Thomas // Went to the Bacardi Distillery in San Juan // Went to the Forever Bridal Show with Brittany and Kelly // Signed my first client at 90 Degree Design // Found my wedding dress! // Celebrated 7 years together with dinner at The Angus Barn // Cheered the Ravens on to Superbowl victory! // Game nights with friends // Watched a Carolina Rollergirls Roller Derby match // Helped the team move to a new office on Jefferson St. // Found out I was being pushed back to part-time hours // Celebrated St. Patty's day downtown, parade // Passover in Akron // Ohio wedding shower // Helped a friend through a challenge // Planned our wedding together // Started a new job at The News & Observer //MD bridal shower // Said goodbye to a family member // Pais wedding // Celebrated Aaron's 26th birthday on the Raleigh Trolly Pub // Baked my first carrot cake from scratch // hosted friends and family // Celebrated my 26th birthday on a Downtown Raleigh Haunted Pub Crawl with friends // KE$HA concert at Red Hat // Parisi wedding // fun. concert! // married my best friend! // relaxed and explored Bryson City on our honeymoon // set our top 5 goals for our first year of marriage // welcomed puppy Quinn into our family // spent a hometown weekend celebrating Thanksgivukkah // Laruen's wedding // celebrated NYE with dinner at The Cheesecake Factory then Can't Hardly Wait live tweet chat with Ethan Embry!

Most-played Albums
Fun. - Some Nights // Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City // Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob // Paramore - Paramore // Ke$ha - Warrior // Nicki Minaj - Pink Friday // Mumford & Sons - Babel


Most Loved Television and Movies

How I Met Your Mother // Drunk History // American Horror Story // The League // New Girl // Big Bang Theory // True Blood // Glee // Modern Family // Once Upon A Time // Girls // Parks and Recreation // Sons of Anarchy // Dexter // Orange is the New Black // The Walking Dead // Sleepy Hollow // The Goldbergs // Hart of Dixie // Warm Bodies // The Kings of Summer // Austenland // 21 & Over // The Secret Life of Walter Mitty // The Huger Games: Catching Fire // Evil Dead // Pacific Rim // The World's End // Star Trek Into Darkness // The Way Way Back // Beautiful Creatures // About Time // The To-Do List

Top 5 Purchases
My wedding dress // Our Ketubah // iPad // Black Friday Winter Coat // MyPillow

Best Food & Drinks

Beef Wellington on the cruise // Anniversary dinner at The Angus Barn

Best Things I Did for Myself

Facetime with my friends and family //Didn't let career set backs get me down

Loveliest Gift
The blanket that Dana crocheted for our wedding!

Favorite Websites
BuzzFeed // Pinterest // WeddingWire // Twitter // Bloglovin' // Tumblr // Etsy // Gmail // Facebook // Yelp // Offline Media

Couldn’t Be Without
My wedding ring // mermaid ring // Aaron // iPhone // Chapstick