Archive of ‘around town’ category


The title of this post may sound a bit strange, but stick with me here – I think you’ll like it. Coffeeneuring is touted as a relaxed cycling endeavor for people who like riding bikes and enjoy drinking coffee or tea. Over the course of six weeks, participants must ride their bikes at least two miles round-trip to seven different places that serve coffee (or coffee shop-type drinks) and take photos for evidence. The term coffeeneuring is made up, but has its roots in the French term randonneuring, which is a long distance cycling sport.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Will’s stepdad is an active randonneur, completing at least one 200+ kilometer bike ride a month. Last year, he and Will’s mom participated in the coffeeneuring challenge. Each week they would invite us to join, but we would brush it off and think, there’s no way we can keep up with a cyclist who bikes 200+ kilometers a month, when we rarely bike anywhere. No way. When the coffeeneuring challenge approached this year, we were once again nudged to try it out.

For the past few years, Will has often used his bike to get to and from classes or early morning clinical rotations when he didn’t want to wake me up to drive him, but the buses weren’t running yet, but I hadn’t biked around town at all since my days of living in the Netherlands on my college study abroad trip. Biking in the Netherlands is a totally different experience from biking in the US. In the Netherlands there are dedicated bike stoplights, huge bike lanes and alleys, and overwhelmingly more bikes than cars. While our town is very bike-friendly compared to most cities and towns, I was still wary about our ability to bike to coffee shops around the area.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

We decided to do a test ride the weekend before the official coffeeneuring challenge started to see if we could do it and how we liked it. We biked about 8.5 miles round-trip, up and down hills, and through campus, stopping at our local farmers’ market and the coffee shop. We loved it. While I was nervous at first, we quickly got the hang of it and, most importantly, didn’t take it too seriously and had fun along the way.

So we took on the full challenge and for the past five-ish weeks, Will and I have biked to one or two coffee shops a week, documenting our cycling-coffee dates each time. What we thought would be a difficult activity has turned into a fun date that we will likely continue past the sanctioned coffeeneuring challenge weeks. Each trip is a fun adventure that forces us to branch out and try something new – whether that is biking up huge hill, riding on a different portion of the greenway, or visiting a coffee shop we haven’t tried before.

These photos were all taken by the easiest thing for us to carry – an iPhone (and not the newest model at that), so pardon the poor quality. Also excuse the helmet heads – safety first! :)

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 13, 2017
Coffee shop: Coco + Bean
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee, Hope – steamed apple cider
Favorite part of this trip: As our first trip, my favorite part was showing ourselves that we could do this! I loved proving to ourselves that we could bike 8.5 miles, up hills, and to a coffee shop, and it was actually fun!

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 19, 2017
Coffee shop: Perennial Coffee
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope – drip coffee
Favorite part of this trip: The best part of this trip was the cute, quaint coffee shop experience on a quiet weekday. Perennial is a brand new coffee shop on Franklin Street and is covered in pretty green plants and Instagrammable tile floors and brick walls. It is a very thin shotgun-style building so most of the seating is upstairs. We went right when they opened before work on a weekday and it was fun to have the whole shop to ourselves.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 21, 2017
Coffee shop: Caribou Coffee
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee (sensing a theme here?), Hope – pumpkin spice latte
Favorite part of this trip: We were originally planning on stopping at a cafe that was about two miles closer than Caribou, but when we got there we spontaneously decided to keep going. I’m not a spontaneous person, but it was so fun to again be able to show ourselves that we could go farther than we originally thought we could. Caribou is close to where we lived for the first two years we were married so it brought back fun memories too. After proving to ourselves (again) that we could go farther, my second favorite part of this ride was the brand spanking new (like not even fully complete yet) bike path/greenway that we discovered on our way back home. It was AMAZING and gorgeous, even though it unexpectedly ended in the steepest hill in all of Chapel Hill.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 23, 2017
Coffee shop: Friends’ Cafe
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee, Hope – almond milk latte
Favorite part of this trip: Friends’ Cafe is one of my all time favorite coffee shops in the area. It isn’t gorgeous or fancy, but the people are nice, the drinks are great quality, and the atmosphere is always wonderful. We turned this coffeeneuring trip into a pre-work/school date. Besides just being in Friends’ Cafe, my favorite part of this one was being able to relax and ease into the day after a wonderful morning bike ride and coffee shop date.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 27, 2017
Coffee shop: Open Eye Cafe
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope (shared both drinks) – hot chocolate and hot apple cider
Favorite part of this trip: This was our first colder ride, so from the get-go I had my mind set on cold weather drinks. Open Eye is another local coffee shop that I always love, so being able to spend a Friday evening together there with our first warm seasonal drinks was the best part of this ride.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Date: October 31, 2017
Coffee shop: Gray Squirrel Coffee Co.
Drinks ordered: Will & Hope – drip coffee
Favorite part of this trip: Another pre-work/school ride was our Halloween trip to Gray Squirrel. Gray Squirrel just recently opened their own building (they used to share a building with a brewery) and I have been dying to visit. We weren’t able to spend much time here, but I realized (and appreciated) how much a morning coffee shop date can lift my mood for the whole day.

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Coffeeneuring 2017 | | Pass the Cookies

Date: November 4, 2017
Coffee shop: Starbucks
Drinks ordered: Will – drip coffee (yup, no change here), Hope – “Joy” tea
Favorite part of this trip: I’m going to be totally cliche here and say that, behind being able to spend time with Will, my favorite part of this coffeeneuring jaunt was getting holiday tea in a “red cup” for the first time this season. That experience just makes you feel like everything is more joyful :)

So, what coffee shops should we try next?!*
*By bike or by car :)

sprouts farmers market

We’re doing something a little different today. We’re going on a tour of the newest grocery store in town!

Sprouts Farmers Market North Carolina |

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to tour the new Sprouts Farmers Market in Raleigh before it’s grand opening on Wednesday morning. The grocery store is the first Sprouts Farmers Market in North Carolina and it couldn’t have gotten here soon enough! The variety of healthy options at affordable prices was unbelievable. Do you see that produce section below?! There is so much selection! They have a great array of organic options, but also conventional options if you aren’t at a place where you want to eat (or want to pay for) organic food. That being said, the prices of both conventional items and organic and natural items is amazing. The store is a slight trek from where I live, but it is so worth it! (more…)

a january snow day

A month ago temperatures were in the single digits and snow and ice covered the ground. Today it is a balmy and humid 72 degrees. Winter swooped in and showed itself right out.

January Snow Day |

Snow only comes to North Carolina about once a year, twice if we’re lucky, but usually not until late January or February, so it was a shock to see meteorologists talking about snow in the first week of the new year. I honestly didn’t put much weight into the meteorologists’ predictions for snow when they first started talking about it early on in that week. I couldn’t believe that we would get snow so early! As it got closer and closer to the weekend, they started increasing their predictions for how many inches of the fluffy stuff we would get. They started with 4 inches, then upped it to 6, then they started predicting 8 inches of snow for our area and 12 in nearby cities and towns! Grocery stores were completely out of eggs, milk and bread in a matter of hours the day before “the big snow” (we don’t know how to handle snow very well here).

Friday night came and precipitation began to fall. Sleet came first, then snow started late and continued to fall through Saturday afternoon, piling up little by little.

January Snow Day |

January Snow Day |

January Snow Day |

January Snow Day |

I have found that the older I get, the more snow is a source of nuisance rather than source of fun, but having already figured out backup plans for work events the next week, and having the snow come down on Friday night and Saturday made this snow day so exciting! Will and I took advantage of our location and the empty roads and walked to our downtown shops to see what was open, catching falling snowflakes along the way.

Since we live in such a walkable area with a quaint and quirky downtown and lots of neighborhoods nearby, some of the shop owners and other residents had the same idea. On a whim, we popped into a local coffee shop and stayed warm with a cup of coffee, a press pot of tea and a slice of delicious galette de roi from a local bakery (fitting for the first weekend of January :) ). This impromptu coffee shop visit was one of the best parts of the snow day – it was so unexpected, cozy and fun and we felt like true community members! We watched out the large front windows of the shop as the snow fell and winds twirled the snowflakes around people walking boot-clad dogs.

There are a lot of temporary residents in our town (including us), transplanted from all over the country and the world to attend college, graduate or other professional schools here. This made for great people watching on a snowy day, as we could easily pick out people who had previously lived in colder areas (hint: puffer coats that came past their knees, full snowsuits, snow boots and face masks to block the wind; extra points if their dog had a full snowsuit too).

January Snow Day |

January Snow Day |

January Snow Day |

While these 70 degree days are beautiful, I’m not sure I’m ready for them to stay. I wasn’t expecting winter to leave so soon and it doesn’t feel like February without the cold weather. Maybe these pictures will bring us a few more weeks of cold? Just a few.

bakery tour: raleigh edition

Our sweets post takes a different form this week. A few weeks ago I met my family in Raleigh for the afternoon and evening. During my childhood in the Triangle, downtown Raleigh had some restaurants, but not too many that were really wonderful. In the past few years though, the local restaurant, bakery and coffee shop scene has expanded tremendously and the new eateries are absolutely fantastic. We decided to test out the fare at a few of the newer local bakeries, to see which one was our favorite. After an afternoon bakery tour downtown, I’m not sure we have a conclusive answer – they were all so delicious but unique. I guess we will just have to keep testing ;)

Raleigh bakery tour - croissants, morning buns, hot chocolate, and more.

Our first stop was Boulted Bread. Boulted opened a few years ago by a trio of friends all originally from Raleigh. The team bonded over bread baking and the small bakery has its own stone mill, where they grind locally sourced grains into the flours used to bake their breads. The store has a large glass front that rolls up in the warmer weather to open the bakery to the downtown street.


a fun fall weekend

October has been crazy busy. Last week I posted about my trip to New York. The weekend after that was jam packed with farmers’ markets, family, friends and celebrations! We celebrated my mom’s retirement (whoop whoop, go mum!), Will’s sibling’s birthdays and the engagement of one of my good friends who was on the NY trip. Talk about a party weekend.

On Saturday morning, we woke up early and met my family at the state farmers’ market to grab some beautiful pumpkins and delicious local apples. My brother and sister were home from their respective universities for fall break and it was so great to have the whole family together again. I don’t have many pictures from all of the parties from the weekend, but below are some of our farmers’ market adventures and a few snaps from the engagement party my friends and I hosted for the lovely bride and groom to-be, Kelsey and Andrew.

Farmers' Market October-2

Farmers' Market October-3

Farmers' Market October-5

Killin’ it with the colors, NC.  I just love these pumpkins.

Farmers' Market October-6

Farmers' Market October-7

Farmers' Market October-9

The hostesses and the bride-to-be at our autumn soiree :)

Kelsey's Engagement Party-1

Pumpkins and blue and white, a few of my favorite things :)

Putting those farmers’ market pumpkins to good use as centerpieces and mantle decorations :) The picture below is blurry, but you can still feel the atmosphere.  These bistro lights are one of my favorite things about my parents backyard and make for a great party scene.  Congratulations Kelsey and Andrew!  We’re so excited for you!

Kelsey's Engagement Party-2

a friday with friends

I spent this past Friday evening with some wonderful friends.  Avery was in town for work and it was the most beautiful day.  Warm but not too hot, low humidity – I’ll take that weather any day.  We met up and enjoyed the evening outside under the umbrellas of some wonderful Chapel Hill establishments.

Friday with Friends 5-15-15-1

A year after graduation I feel like I’m finally getting into the groove of post-grad life.  Living in the same town where I spent my undergraduate years, I have sometimes felt like it has been hard to get away from the nostalgia and memories of college.  Being in such close proximity, I am constantly on campus for work or just because it is a nearby pretty place.  For the past year, my college memories were so fresh in my mind, and elicited by all parts of campus, that it was sometimes hard not to dwell on them.  In addition, being a new grad in a college town feels a bit strange.  You are seen as the baby of the working world and the office, but feel much older than your college counterparts who are still attending classes.  After seeing this year’s graduating seniors taking pictures in their light blue caps and gowns, questioning each other about what they are going to be doing and where they will be next year, I definitely felt nostalgic, but I also felt like it was a huge release.  I realized that I am in a good place in my life, young but seemingly far removed from this time one year ago when I was in their shoes.  I may not have a set plan for the far future, but I have a job, a loving hard-working husband at a great medical school, wonderful friends and so many opportunities.  I have figured out how to balance work, hobbies, friends, family and life a little better than when I first started working, and I have learned how to be more flexible if my week doesn’t necessarily go according to the many lists and plans I make.

Friday with Friends 5-15-15-2

I have grown a lot in the last year, and these wonderful friends have been there by my side, supporting and growing alongside each other.  We might not quite have it all together all the time, but we are getting there, and we can always lean on each other on days when we feel dejected or thrilled, discouraged or excited.

Friday with Friends 5-15-15-3

Life moves quickly – it is great to have these hours and evenings to slow down and spend with friends chatting the night away and catching up on everyone’s lives.  I love these moments.  We have gotten to the point where we are no longer living in our past and in our college memories, but in the present, planning for and excited about what the future brings for each of us.

Friday with Friends 5-15-15-4

We topped off the beautiful evening with a jaunt down the street to a delicious open-air local eatery, accompanied by happy chatter and a little bluegrass music.  I am so lucky to have these friends in my life and wonderful, fun nights like these.  Cheers to friends, Fridays, fun and the future.

Friday with Friends 5-15-15-5

a belated birthday

It has taken me a while but I finally got my act together and collected some pictures from my birthday to share.

The morning of my birthday I woke up to wonderful smells coming from the kitchen, where Will had been cooking breakfast (early early) to serve before I had to leave for work.  He made strawberry blintzes, the traditional birthday breakfast growing up in my family.  The blintzes were complete with made-from-scratch crepes, fresh strawberry puree and homemade filling.  Such a sweet surprise.

I had only mentioned my birthday to one person in my office just in passing weeks before, but when I arrived at work I found these beautiful flowers on my desk (pardon the poorly lit windowless office, I have since upgraded to one with a window-yay!).  She also surprised me with a delicious chai tea latte that is not pictured.  Needless to say, my morning started off wonderfully.

Bday 2015 1

After class and work, respectively, Will and I met my parents for a birthday dinner at Mateo Tapas, a Spanish tapas restaurant in Durham.  It was my first time there and I would absolutely recommend it.  If you are unfamiliar with tapas, they are an array of Spanish appetizers, snacks or small plates.  Since they are served in such small portions, we ordered a few different dishes and each sampled all of them.  Everything we tried was delectable.  Some of my favorites were the dates, stuffed with goat cheese and honey and wrapped in prosciutto and the baguette served with melt-in-your-mouth freshly made farmer’s cheese and sweet pepper jelly (the latter is pictured below on the right).  Delicious.

Bday 2015 3

Bday 2015 4

Bday 2015 5

We topped off the night with a delicious birthday treat!  It was such a fun experience with some of the people I love most.

Bday 2015 7

Bday 2015 8

After dinner we walked around downtown Durham and explored a bit.  There was an art street fair going on near the iconic bull statue and the sidewalks were lively.

Doesn’t Mr. Bull look so majestic?  I feel like if he was alive he would be very protective to those he cared for and absolutely terrifying to those who tried to mess with his people.  Kind of like a cross between Ferdinand the Bull and the bull in the Disney short with Goofy as a matador (I’m obviously on a Spanish kick tonight).  Compete side note: Did you know that the story of Ferdinand the Bull is a pacifist story?  It came out just before the Spanish Civil War and was banned in Spain, Hitler ordered it to be burned, and it was the only non-communist book Stalin allowed to be distributed in Poland.  I had no idea.  Thanks, Wikipedia.

Bday 2015 9

We wandered into the recently opened 21c Museum Hotel, basically a hotel disguised as a free contemporary art gallery.  The building has art deco elements and was designed by the architects who designed the Empire State Building (cool, right?!).  In juxtaposition to the original 1937 building elements, interesting modern art speckled the building.  Some of it was not what I would have expected or chosen on my own but other pieces were really great.  I know this sounds strange, but the bathrooms were one of the coolest parts of the hotel.  Hear me out.  Toilets were enclosed in individual rooms with glass walls that faced the main hall.  Upon completing a turn of the lock, all of the glass became dark and opaque and the once transparent toilet room transformed into a private bathroom.  It was cool, but made me a little wary at the same time.  Questionable.

The exhibit below is the american flag made out of painted plastic toy soldiers.  There were so many nooks and crannies of the hotel/art gallery to explore, but I’ll leave that for another time.  Thanks to everyone who made it a wonderful birthday!

Bday 2015 11


Bday 2015 12