Fam & Food in North Caroline – Pt. 2

Holay molay, it’s been 21 days since I posted part 1 of my family time and food excursions in Charlotte. But nonetheless, here is part two of the trip I made last month. Mostly in pics because the details are now a little fuzzy. MMMkay?

I left off on Monday morning by running around Teagan’s campus and getting lunch with her in the cafeteria. I met about 13 of her friends within a half hour of simply walking to get a glass of water or an apple. Everyone was incredibly friendly and it was the best!

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I drove north that afternoon because one of my college roommates goes to graduate school in Greensboro. Unfortunately, her car got a flat tire so some of that time together was in the auto shop. Glad you car is back to normal, Lez!!

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We ate in my car at a NC staple because there isn’t indoor seating. Catching up with burgers wrapped in foil and sweet teas was bliss.

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Theee next day was my final day off work. I went on a morning run and then made my way to Green Brothers Juice Co. for an acai bowl. I started this book and hopefully I break my habit and actually finish it. I love starting books and not finishing them and I don’t know why.

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I wasn’t hungry but while I was away from her campus, I wanted to go to 7th Street Public Market. Markets are MY FAV but it was slightly underwhelming compared to others I’ve been to. I strolled around with a hot pink kombucha and got a sushi burrito to go.

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After watching Teagan’s tennis match, we went to YAFO Kitchen for a nice big bowl of fresh Mediterranean food. Falafel, rice, carrot slaw, chickpea salad, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, hummus and tahini dressing = nothing short of my dream meal.

 

 

On Wednesday, I worked from Teagan’s apartment and we adventured to the Botanical Garden at UNC Charlotte afterwards. The garden was gorgeous and nothing at all like my college campus’ scenery.

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Just down the street from UNC, I scouted out an ice cream shop that makes macaron sandwiches. YES PLEASE. I got mint ice cream in between two chocolate macarons and covered in cocoa puffs. The picture does not depict the size of this divine dessert. It was my dinner because this thing filled me right up.

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On Thursday, I worked from Teagan’s apartment again! We had to do an errand for my dad in the evening aka were on the road as the sun was setting. We grabbed dinner with her friend in the cafeteria, watched Grey’s Anatomy and called it a night.

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My last day in NC called for a different work environment. A dietitian blogger I follow who lives in Charlotte recently posted about Sunflour Baking Company.  After some Instagram creeping, I was sold.  An iced vanilla latte and avocado, egg and cheddar breakfast biscuit for me!

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My trip concluded on Friday when my boyfriend drove to campus to watch Teagan’s tennis match. I met up with him after my work day and we said our goodbyes to my sister. Evan was in the area because he was helping my dad assemble furniture in High Point, NC for work 🙂

Evan and I drove up to High Point that night, saw my college roommate again over tacos and margs and hit the road back to Ohio with my dad. Annnnd may have gone to Chick-fil-A the next day for sweet teas because we missed the south so much. We’ll be back to see ya, Teags!

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Fam & Food in North Carolina – Pt. 1

Hey hey and happy Monday!! I am typing this on day 5 of 9 of my Charlotte, North Carolina trip 🙂

My little sister goes to school near Charlotte so myself and almost the entire fam bam (we miss you, Brennan!) traveled south to visit her and watch her be the rockstar she is in tennis. I extended my trip before AND after the weekend with four vacation days and working remotely so I’ll be laptopping from her school’s library later this week! It’s a gooood life.

When I got in on Thursday, Teagan and I roamed around her beautiful campus. I visited her two years ago but it was so nice to see it all again and move after sitting on a plane.  She’s a cutie!

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We met up with my parents for lunch and spent the afternoon on a patio in the sunshine. Followed by naps, of course! We made a last minute decision to go see “I Can Only Imagine“. My dad said it was the best movie he has ever seen. Agreed!! We picked up the little bro from the airport and I snoozed alllll the way back to Teagan’s apartment.

Teagan had a tennis match on Friday so we cheered her on to victory before meeting up with my sister and brother-in-law when they landed. We made another last minute decision to head to downtown Charlotte for two March Madness games!

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We snagged pizza before walking over to the Spectrum Center to see Kansas State vs. Creighton and UMBC vs. Virginia aka we watched history in the making when UMBC won! We listened to “Who let the dogs out” for our entire drive home lol.

As my family expected from me, I did my food research for fun spots to adventure to! That began on St. Patrick’s Day with Reigning Donuts — theee cutest walk-up window serving hot donuts and coffee. We got a variety and I fell in love with the lemon poppy seed. A. MAZE. ING.

Teags had another match so we all cheered her on again! Afterwards, we made our way to SouthBound for a dinner of grapefruit margs, Mexican street corn and fish tacos — my dream meal! We hit up a gas station for snacks and slushies to accompany our card playing to end the night.

 

We said goodbye to my parents and younger bro in the morning before trying out another donut shop – Your Mom’s Donuts. Strawberry for me and cinnamon with cream cheese frosting for Teags! We enjoyed them outside before going to Mass.

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Teagan had homework to do so my older sister and brother-in-law hopped around to 3 breweries. We went to Sugar Creek Brewing, Queen Park Social and The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (thanks for the recs, guy who sat next to me on the plane!!). Patio weather treated us SO NICE.

 

We met up with Teags afterwards for dinner and ice cream! The dinner move was Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar — a restaurant that does burgers, sushi and burger sushi incredibly well. Teagan and I went before 2 years ago and ordered the same meal (Cheeseburgooshi) because it’s the best thing ever! We followed it up with Golden Cow Creamery for one scoop of Dunkaroos (TBT! We were fangirling and fanboying) and one scoop of peanut butter!

 

We all fell asleep watching UMBC but didn’t bring them the best of luck this time around 😦 Megan, Nick and I grabbed lattes from Mugshots in the morn before they flew back home. I ordered lavender aka one of my favorite flavors to ever ever exist!

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I’m off to go run, eat lunch in the cafeteria like a college student, roam around a botanical garden and then meet up with my college roommate who goes to grad school in North Carolina! Be back in a few days for the week recap with more outdoor exploring, tennis match watching and innovative food finds!!

Don’t Put The Movie In

This title sounds like a scary movie. Coming to theaters tonight so grab yo refillable popcorn bucket and don’t forget to stop at the seasoning salt station!! You can keep the popped kernels but it’s not that. It’s the earliest thing I can remember learning about authentic friendship.

Nine years ago in eighth grade, I sat next to the kinda friend you don’t hang out on weekends with but share the best conversations. It was English class and we laughed endlessly before, during and after that bell rang. We had different friend groups but effortlessly clicked.

I remember the day she showed me the bruises on her legs. She pulled down her knee high socks (throwback to our beloved uniforms!) and commented how she didn’t know where they came from. Being a dancer, she assumed that she must have gotten them at dance class and I never thought to question it. She was mistaken.

She stopped coming to school and English class got a lot less exciting. A week or so later, our principal sat our grade down and told us that she had been hospitalized and diagnosed with leukemia. I didn’t know what that entirely meant but I knew it was cancer and my grandfather passed away from it before I was born.

Remember when I said I didn’t hang out on the weekends with her? That changed. Not out of pity but out of love. Out of ‘that’s my friend and I want her to know that she means something special to me’. Out of ‘I can’t imagine what you’re going through but I miss seeing you every day and you’re not fighting this alone’.

I visited her in the hospital but the real memories came when she was home. She continued school by skyping in from a cleaner environment where her immune system wouldn’t attack her by a common bug. Her basement felt just like English class again.

I got to know her mom and always loved how she hummed when she cooked. I used a cotton towel to dry my hands after I washed them as she used a disposable paper one. She informed me that she could still go to McDonalds as long as she asked for fries without salt because they would have to make a fresh batch just for her. Most importantly, she taught me how to truly interact with a human being and not tip toe around a sick friend.

Another friend and I were over at her house and were sitting on the floor in a circle, chatting about who knows what. Nothing was planned and nothing was there to distract us. Just good ole conversation. Our friend with leukemia told us something I will never forget. Wellll, I can’t actually recall the precise wording but it went something just like, “I love when you guys come over because you don’t just put a movie in like other friends do. You actually talk to me and make me laugh.”

I’m not belittling her other friendships one bit. I know that she had much closer friends than myself who definitely didn’t just stare at a screen while sitting next to her. However, it can be tricky to relate to a friend who lost her hair from chemotherapy and had a chest tube to pump medicine through to avoid too many IVs. It can be difficult to relate to anyone with different life experiences, especially at age 13. Heck, movies are a sure way to entertain ourselves and simply relax.

I don’t know how we came to the conclusion of never suggesting watching a movie but I’m so so SO glad that we did. Because Becca didn’t want to be treated differently as the elephant in the room. She simply wanted the normalcy of making memories with her friends instead of “visitors”. Becca wanted to look at the faces of those who cared about her instead of those that belong to celebrities.

I would like to think that we all want that. Movies can bring people together, showcase phenomenal talent and tell great stories. I too find joy in them especially when outdoor projectors and eight blankets are involved. But my perspective on movies is shared with mine about eating out: food (and therefore, a movie) is pretty empty when the emphasis is on the food/movie, not on the people you’re enjoying it with.

The difference here is that we are largely discouraged from talking during movies. When I do, I a) am told to shut up and/or b) feel guilty for talking in a theater or as the people I’m with don’t want to miss a detail. Both a and b happen to me every time until I end up falling asleep. That happens every time too.

I would assume that Becca agrees. About the ‘let’s watch movies but do plenty of other things too because I treasure the time where you sit with me on the floor and look me in the eyes and be in that moment like it’s the most important moment of your life’ thing. But I can’t confirm that because she passed away a few days after Christmas during our sophomore year of high school.

I still think about her single comment that reveals what being a friend and frankly, human, is all about: connection. She hasn’t been on this earth for six and a half years but she continues to remind me of the subtle yet ginormous importance of making people smile. This beautiful girl taught me one of my most treasured life lessons in appreciating the company around me:

Don’t put the movie in (literally and figuratively). Don’t you dare. Let’s sit right here and enjoy each other’s absolutely unique selves instead! Because we never know the last time that person felt truly listened to, we have a whole lot to learn from each other and we’ll never get this time back.

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Spend Your Free Time The Way You Like

Oh, this quote. I adore it.

large.jpgSome quotes you’ll stumble upon are cute and perfectly poised. Others are inspirational and give you a mood boost. This one has me writing a blog post to expand on it because I know it very very verrrry well and agree with it with all of my beating heart. And yes, I basically stayed home on New Years Eve this year aka went over to my friend McKenna’s house for rosé and lengthy life chats in our PJs.

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Susan Cain (woman behind the quote) is a writer, public speaker and podcaster specializing in introversion. Her TED talk in 2012 titled, “The Power of Introverts” is most definitely worthy of your next 19 minutes and four seconds no matter where you place yourself on the I/E spectrum.

I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert because I get energy off of being around others. Simultaneously, my mind is a riveting place to be so my most treasured awakening moments have come from thinking, reading and writing on my own. Myers Briggs tells me I’m a ENFJ. Let’s call it, ‘I thrive on quiet mornings and dancing in the kitchen and random conversations with strangers at the post office makes me content.’

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On to free time. In the past, I felt as if I was weekending “wrong”. Every time I would come home from college, my dad would ask me about the parties I go to. Well, those atmospheres make me feel more lonely than I do sitting at home by myself so my free time is spent otherwise. However, I still wished I could be a “typical college student” and have a fun time. For once, I wanted to go out and not feel guilty for all of the things running through my mind that I could be doing instead. I’m all about making new relationships all the time but it was seriously clear that I never felt like myself in those settings.

In the midst of those thoughts, I knew I needed women and men outside of those I share genes with by my side. I can’t expect to have friends other than my parents and siblings if I never leave the coziness of my home. My goal of marriage and motherhood will not unravel if I’m not going on dates. I won’t have much to put on my graduate school application if I am not volunteering and remaining active in the work that I’m passionate about.

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I’m taking a liking for research lately and came across a study about friendship published in the American Sociological Review. It’s titled the, “General Social Survey” but came to be known as, “The Loneliness Numbers.” In 1985, the research showed that Americans had three confidants that they could turn to for important matters. In 2004, that number lowered to two with 19% of the participants having no one to confide in. Concurrently, 53% had no close confidants outside of a spouse or family member(s).

Ouch. That makes me saddened to the extreme. But I really do get it because I know what it’s like to feel so isolated and disappointed by the world’s superficial expectations that you want to take life on by your single self. However, we were told to be people of community for a reason.

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It came about incredibly slowly and I cannot even track the shift but eventually, I made a decision to start doing what I actually wanted with my free time with the core intent to kick laziness away and start making every day an adventure. That came with the search for finding out what I love to do and a fair amount of the time, inviting people to experience it with me. Which spiraled into forming a flood of memories, deepening my self-awareness and distancing myself from comparison.

I would much rather road trip to a friend (she wrote a guest post a while ago!) and have her show me around her college town than use the weekend to catch up on sleep and other procedural to-do list items.

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I would much rather ride my bike by myself without any music over sitting in a car with people who listen to objectifying tunes on the top charts.

I would much rather make t-shirts with one of my best friends than go to a bar where my high-pitched voice cannot even be heard by the people I’m with.

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I would much rather create a social media calendar for the eating disorder treatment center that I volunteer at than knock out a series on Netflix.

I would much rather cook a colorful dinner for my siblings without a timer or recipe in sight over driving to get the takeout that we know too well.

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These preferences are not to say that I don’t do the latter parts from time to time. I attempt to live intuitively and am always taking my friends’ concepts of fun into account so my days always looking different. Like the picture above. I took these girls to the Fashion Meets Music Festival for my internship. Many of them liked the rap performances. I liked the hula hoop station. We both left so content!

Sometimes laundry, a documentary and a weird cocktail of apple cider vinegar, ginger, seltzer water and lime are all I want on a Friday night. I walk right past my favorite room in the house (the kitchen) and out the door to get a burger and fries if that’s what sounds satisfying. I find time at a bar with my high-pitched voice in tow to be occasionally enjoyable if I’m with people I love (and this stranger on the right who wanted to hop in the pic).

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I fill my days with what I like, not what I feel I’m supposed to do. I like listening to people dream, asking tough questions and watching the joy that a child brings into a room when nobody was smiling before his/her arrival. I also like how laughter comes about because the body literally cannot hold happiness inside. Watching the expanding and deflating rib cage of the person on the couch next to me is my favorite as well as taking myself out on coffee dates, doing nightly GNOTDs (good news of the day) with my former roommate and eating sushi on a rug with a pal and blankets.

Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Only if that’s what you like. I wouldn’t recommend being an unadaptable brat about it but I also wouldn’t suggest taking what the world is handing you because it is the comfortable option.

Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn. – John Wesley

The world needs you to catch on fire in your unique way. Discover what this enthusiasm looks like without outside suppositions and both your weekdays and weekends will start getting a lot more exciting. I promise you that!

What Do Your Friends Look Like?

My choice of entertainment during workouts is probably different than the typical worker outer. Pump up music just doesn’t do it for me!

Yesterday was The Last Song album (yup, the seven years back Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth movie). Today was a podcast about food insecurity. One day last week was this talk about Catholic friendship. Through a lens of St. Pope John Paul II’s teachings, Emily Stimpson goes through nine “rules” of being a good friend.

Now that I’ve moved home after college and old yet incredible friends have reached out to me (and vice versa), I’ve been reminded once again that friendship is one of my favorite things this earthly life has to offer. I just treasure it like crazy town!! Read this, this and this post if you want to read more on friendship from my perspective.

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I’ve been randomly reflecting on this talk that I discovered on the eliptical because as a friend and a Catholic, it discussed things I never truly and deeply thought about. Although all of Emily’s insight was GOLD, her seventh point stuck with me the most: Keep friendships diverse in race, age and status. P.S. all nine rules are in the YouTube description notes!

Your group of friends should look like the body of Christ. The body of Christ has young people and it has older people. It has people who are black and people who are white. People who experience same-sex attraction and people who experience being attracted to one woman after another. That’s who is sitting in the church on Sundays. You’ve got the womanizer, the celibate, the old people. You should be friends with people who come from all those different walks of life. From each of them, you will learn something new. – Emily Stimpson

Yes sir, I have a core group of people who I more regularly call to get tacos, go on walks and watch episodes of The O.C. with. But I’ve had the pleasure of learning that every person who I come across is a gift. Collectively, these people friends have taught me the significance of community that never stops growing and changing.

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Because life is much too short to watch the stars alone. Sometimes, that is so so necessary but the sky is too vast to always sit under it by yourself. Furthermore, it’s too diverse in and of itself to marvel at its beauty with monotonous folks who don’t challenge you, call on you to make sacrifices, teach you life’s greatest lessons and make you feel uncomfortable at times.

My friends include…

The religious sister in her 70s who I have baked Irish soda bread with on St. Patrick’s Day. She contacted me when I was in seventh grade simply because she saw my Irish name on a list at the new school I was attending and it intrigued her. Gotta love Sister Brigid!!

This sincere dude who used to run up to me and give me an orange whenever he saw me on campus. He always had an orange in his pocket. I didn’t ask questions. I love oranges and talking to him!

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The bridesmaid who I met at a wedding last summer where I knew roughly five people. I danced away with the bridal party and today, she’s one of my best friends!

This woman (who rocks an apron like no other!) who worked at my junior high and ten years later, is a great mentor to me. Even with kids of her own, she never fails to consistently let me know how much she cares about me. She invited the fam into her home to cook the most divine meal for us last weekend. Followed by kickball, of course!

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The most friendly guy who works in the produce section of my favorite grocery store. He notices whenever I haven’t shopped there in a week or two and will do anything to make sure my vegetables are prime pickings. He also has the most awkward laugh. I love it!

The man in his 60s who goes to my church, cheered for my friends and I during high school tennis matches and posted this on my Facebook wall on Monday night.

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The volunteers at my church’s food pantry. My mom is one of the coordinators so when my schedule allows, I join the men and women who have 50 years on me and soak up the updates of their grandkids’ life adventures.

All the girls in their 20s who are in a similar season of life with me. Some I’ve been childhood neighbors with, lived with, prayed with, shuffled with (as in shuffleboard…or my signature shuffle dance move. You choose!), STARGAZED with and simply have laid on the floor with. Does anyone else find floor laying to be a hobby?IMG_3125.JPG.jpeg

My parents and siblings (and their friends because we have an open door policy) who join me in every dance party that goes down in our kitchen. For the first time in seven years, we are all under the same roof again yeeeee!!

The pals in my undergrad major and professor who I traveled with to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and New York City for once in a lifetime opportunities. They let me stop whenever I saw a macaron place…that’s a great sign of friendship 🙂

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The kiddos I babysit who shout my name with complete joy.  Today, I helped them with the signage of their new mashed potato business. Their motto is “No mashed potatoes allowed here because we sell them”… they’re doing big things!

And so. many. more. Like Olivia, one of my best friends with the most diverse group of friends, always tells me, “the world is full of people I haven’t become friends with yet!”. Liv, you are a beautiful and wise (and great kite flying) friend.

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We will never click with everyone. It’s impossible to meet everyone we would click with (although that would be theee coolest!). But if a new face is going to make an impression in our lives, we simply need to be open to whoever the Father is crossing our paths with. Regardless of what stage of life they’re in, what they look like, how differently they sin from you, whether you think they fall into your idea of “friend” status, etc. We can relate to each person because on the most fundamental level, we are all human.

Sometimes, we are called to be the first one to reach out. Other times, we get to decide if we want to receive the invitation that was sent our way. Always, it’s the undivided attention, selfless intent and eye contact that communicates how much you see the individual and all of their worth.

Let’s look at our friends from each and every aspect of our lives. Are we looking at the body of Christ?