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?