January in Review

Helloooooo 2016!

I always feel like there should be some sort of transitionary week or few days in between December 31 of one year and January 1 of the next. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve imagined some sort of space in between years (which can be dangerous). Maybe the lack of expected transitionary period makes January seem so busy, because I’m hustling to catch up.

Let’s jump into the recap.

Jan 1-7:

We kicked off the new year at a dinner party at a friend’s house. There was delicious food, free-flowing wine, and dancing to Shakira. And we actually stayed out past midnight!

The Beer Runners also had their first Secret Santa party. I was worried that doing the gift exchange in January was going to feel weird, but it worked out perfectly.

Heading back to work on January 4th after an indulgently long time off was tough, but we got down to business in a serious way that embraced the essence of new beginnings that so many of us feel with a new year.

Jan 8-14:

Three words: Monster Truck Jam

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Jan 15-21:

I spent a lot of this time with a horrible cold. I used to get sick the week of Christmas/New Year’s, but the last couple years it’s been pushed back to mid-January. I had to cancel some pretty exciting plans, but I did get to catch up on some movies!

On the night of the 21st, Richie surprised me with an early birthday present: a night at Arrowhead Inn, a B&B in Durham that I had been curious about. It was really beautiful, and we stayed in this little log cabin on the property. It was a wonderful, relaxing evening. Unfortunately, we had to wake up really early the next morning and hit the road with haste because we were in the midst of an ice storm and didn’t want to get stuck there! (Well, we kind of did, but you know.)

Jan 22-28

The weekend was spent snowed/iced in, which is lovely up to a point. Lucy and Percy definitely enjoy all of the attention.

Then, on the 25th, I was off to South Dakota for work! Because of being burned by bad weather and multiple delays in the past, I request a lot of buffer time to get to and from the training location in SD. This made for a long week, but it wasn’t at all hectic or stressful.

I spent my birthday–the 28th–working and traveling from Chamberlain to Sioux Falls. The colleagues I had with me surprised me with a card and some goodies, and then treated me to a beer at a bar in adorable downtown Sioux Falls.

Jan 29-31

I extended my layover in Chicago to last the whole weekend and spent time with a former classmate/friend, Alison, and Beer Runner/friend, Christa. It was my first time in Chicago (not counting ORD or airport hotels), and I LOVED IT. It certainly didn’t hurt that it was in the 40s, during Restaurant Week, and I had locals showing me around! Some bar/restaurant recommendations (Yelp reviews coming soon…maybe): BellyQ, Bar Takito, Antique Taco, Revolution Brewing, Maude’s Liquor Bar, Haymarket, and of course, the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Building (view pictured below). I’ll also recommend Lottie’s for the music, considering I spent a good Idon’tknowhowmany hours on their dance floor.

Some choice photos from my weekend:

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this gif and Chicago dogs are my new favorite things

2015 in Review

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Since I started doing month-in-review posts, it seems silly to do a year-in-review post. But there are some things that just didn’t make the highlight reel, were too complicated for a quick a blurb, or didn’t get enough attention the first time around. For example, in 2015…

milestones/accomplishments
We both turned 30. Two things feel different:
1) I feel like there’s a certain credibility that comes along with being in your 30s. That said, we still get carded a lot (we still got it!), so maybe it’s all in my head.
2) Where did my metabolism go?! I have to work harder to maintain a size/shape that I’m happy with. Richie’s been incredibly disciplined with his fitness regimen for a few years now, but I recommitted to making fitness a priority late this year. And I already feel so much better!

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We celebrated our fifth anniversary! I said that our trip to Jamaica back in August was to celebrate my academic badassery (and it was), but it was also to celebrate the big 5. I think that’s deserving of a fist bump:

wedding fist bump

I got an MPH! Having worked in public health for my entire career (which I know isn’t that long, but does demonstrate a certain level of commitment, in my opinion), it was time to get that degree. I did it part-time–going to class online at night, doing homework on the weekends, and visiting campus for a week each semester for in-person classes–while working full time. It took two years and I am so happy I did it (also thrilled it’s over).

Towards the end of my last semester, I started keeping a list of all the things that I wanted to do with my newfound free time. Here’s a peek:

  • Read more! A month after finishing school, I read Wild Ducks Flying Backwards, Villa Incognito, Speaking with the Angel, Gone Girl, and Metro Girl (a silly Janet Evanovich book that was in our room in Jamaica). And I still have a lot of catching up to do. Recommendations welcome!
  • Take classes (because I obviously can’t get enough). I registered for a dance class starting soon and am always on the lookout for workshops.
  • Travel. There are a lot of small southern towns I’d like to visit for a weekend along with bigger trips to exotic places. Plus, 2016 holds weddings for both of our siblings: Matthew’s is in Camarillo, CA and Rachel’s is in Boston.
  • Put more effort into Bull City Beer Runners. We just turned three (and are over 400 strong!), so we threw a karaoke birthday party and had a book drive for Book Harvest (we collected 74 books!). And we’ll certainly have more events in the works soon.
  • Create more. I had very few opportunities to get creative in my classes, and I miss it dearly. On the top of my list is getting reacquainted with my sewing machine.

The Durham Civil Rights History mural was completed! Back in 2013, I was part of a group of 30 people from all over Durham to learn about Durham’s civil rights history and create a design for a mural. The project hit a lot of roadblocks, and I ended up having to take a backseat on the project because of competing priorities, but it was finally completed over the summer. A couple of my designs are in there, and I helped paint the purple background. You can see it for yourself by going to Morris Street downtown–it’s the wall in between the Durham Arts Council and the building that houses Pizzeria Toro.

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The mural in its entirety–the skinny panel in the middle isn’t visible when looking dead-on.

family
I lost my aunt Kathy (my mom’s older sister) to cancer. Even though we didn’t see each other much over the years, Aunt Kathy was incredibly important to me. Her dark sense of humor and quick wit coupled with her sappy displays of affection made interactions with her delightful and surprising. Some of my favorite childhood memories involve cross-country visits with her and her kids, my cousins (Hi, Foof!).

A little over a year ago, I took a job with an emphasis on tobacco control (which was new for me). While my family’s been impacted by the brutal force of tobacco in the past, this one hit hard. It amplified the importance of the work that I’m happy to be doing, but wish I didn’t have to.

Lucy got ACL surgery (again). And then her recovery was delayed because she fractured her kneecap (or whatever the dog equivalent is). She’s doing much, much better now. In related, aging-dog news: she’s going deaf.

No news on the Percy front. He’s doing well and still has both of his teeth.

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home
We continued battling the builder of our house.
Remember, in the 2014 in Review post, I said, “…for reasons beyond our control, we have asked the builder to buy the house back from us”? Well, she hasn’t, and we’re over a year into an emotionally-taxing and expensive lawsuit. At this point, we’re looking at another couple to several years of this.

In the meantime, we’re living in the house and trying to enjoy it as best we can. We’re thinking of it as a long-term rental while we fantasize about where we’ll go next. To say we got badly burned on our first experience as homeowners would be an acute understatement, and we’re hesitant to jump right into the home ownership game again when this is over. We’ll see–a lot can happen in a few years.

2016
Besides a few trips (for business and pleasure) already on the calendar, we don’t know what 2016 holds, but we’re excited to find out.

November in Review

I warned you that November was going to packed, and it was! So packed, in fact, that I forgot to report on it until December was over halfway behind us.

Nov. 12-16: We went to Philly to visit Richie’s family. We were able to catch up with a few friends, too. Some highlights (besides loved ones) include: a trip to one of the most magical jewelry shops in all the land, Halloween, where I bought a gorgeous, funky garnet ring. Also! The Kennel Club of Philadelphia hosted the National Dog Show (the one that airs on Thanksgiving) and we went! It was our third time going and meeting as many contestants as we could. We did not meet the pooch destined to be Best in Show (Charlie the Skye Terrier), though.

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Nov 18: I went to a meeting at the CDC on behalf of my organization. I presented some neat stuff (technical tobacco-control term), and the response was overwhelmingly positive!

Thanksgiving: Exhausted from all that traveling, I was excited to stay put for the holiday. Richie’s parents came to us and explored all the new things Durham has to offer (it had been a year since their last visit), and I cooked a feast! While I was proud of the way my first turkey (breast) came out, the highlight of the meal was probably the Shaq and Cheese (yep: Shaquille O’Neal’s family mac and cheese recipe–thanks again for sharing it, Tini!).

We also got a jumpstart on holiday shopping with Shop Small Saturday in downtown Durham. We hit up the usuals: Morgan Imports, Parker & Otis, and Dolly’s but I was really impressed with new(ish)comer Indio in Brightleaf Square! Everything in there is so beautiful, and they have workshops, too! I was also excited to check out the newest kid on the block, Chet Miller–it didn’t disappoint! I highly recommend them for unique, beautiful tokens of love.

Stay tuned for the December in Review post coming soon (in theory), and a 2015 recap (which seems unnecessary now that I do these monthly recaps, but there are a few things I haven’t shared).

September and October in Review

So much for having more time to blog after finishing school!

Seriously though: a weight truly has been lifted. There have been some nights and weekends since August where I’ve felt like I should be doing something, only to realize that that something was going to class or doing homework. Freedom!

So I neglected the blog and spent my time catching up with friends–both real life and television characters–instead. And doing some other stuff, like…

Take Flight – A fundraiser for SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens). Our friend is on the board and we had a great time bidding for things we didn’t win in the name of sexual health.

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PRIDE – Always a great time, even if it POURED during the parade.
Bismarck – Work took me to North Dakota’s capitol and I loved it! Downtown Bismarck is going through a revitalization and I was able to walk around, shop, and eat delicious things. I also went for a long run at a beautiful park along the Missouri River. The zoo’s there too, so I got to see some camels! Can’t say that about very many runs!
Fresno – Richie and I made it to Fresno for a quick trip. My mom threw a birthday (hers and Richie’s)/graduation (mine) party and it was a blast. We also went to a play–the famous murder mystery, The Mousetrap–at the Golden Chain Theater in Oakhurst with my dad and Kay!
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some of us at dinner

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on the way to Oakhurst

Denver – After Fresno, we were off to Denver. I had a conference there, and Richie joined to sightsee. I had an afternoon off to explore and had a great time walking around. Denver is beautiful! And yes, we made it to Casa Bonita.

Wrightsville – Almost immediately after returning from Denver, we were off to Wrightsville beach for a wedding. It poured there too, but it was a lovely wedding and we had a great time.

Pop-Up Chorus – Getting into the Halloween spirit, I went to Pop-Up Chorus and jammed out to Thriller. My zombie moves need work.
Mural Dedication – The Durham Civil Rights History mural is done! There was a beautiful dedication and celebration one weekend, and the mural was on the cover of Durham Magazine’s design issue (I couldn’t make the photo shoot, though). “We must remember and continue to tell.”
Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 10.22.14 AMRace Fest – We did it again! Richie ran the half and I ran the 5. I finished a few seconds slower than last year–that says something about consistency, right? I ran with some friends–fellow Beer Runners!–and had a great time.
Bull City Beer Runners!

Bull City Beer Runners!

Atul Gawande – As big fans of his work, Richie and I were excited to hear him as one the Guilford College Bryan Series speakers in Greensboro.

Carved pumpkins – Hello…is it me you’re looking for? (And Richie’s bat is adorable.)
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Scary movies/TV – This year, we watched Rosemary’s Baby, The Devil’s Rejects, and Saw. Plus, we caught up on shows like The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and American Horror Story – Hotel.
Halloween – Probably the most epic Halloween day yet. We started off with a gravestone painting/yard decorating party at a friend’s house. Then, we were treated to a tour of the Duke Anatomy Lab (as visiting scientists) where we examined a cadaver and different organs. Yes, you read that right. It was FASCINATING. Also very cold. Then, we went to a party where we dressed as Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake from the SNL digital short Dick in a Box. Nailed it.

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November is going to be similarly packed, with trips to Philly and Atlanta planned, plus hosting Thanksgiving again! Come at me, November–I’m ready.

August in Review

You guys!!! August was a big month!!! Let’s review:

The month kicked off with a work trip to Phoenix. I helped out with an AZ-related project partly because they needed help, but also so that I’d a get a trip to Phoenix to see my brother and his fiancee! The training went well, and it was awesome to catch up with Matthew and Melinda. And Phoenix is really cool! I can see why they like it there. (And no, it wasn’t that hot when I went.)

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Me and Matthew in front of the gourmet pizza place. We unfortunately did not ride those Vespas there.

Also in August: the homestretch of my program kicked into high gear. I had either class, a team conference call, or hours of work to put into my Capstone project seemingly every night.

…that is until the 22nd and 23rd, when I had my final Basecamp! (Basecamp is when we go to campus for 2-6 days and finish one semester and start the next. This time, it was only 2 days because it was our last one!) That’s right folks, I’m done with grad school!!! I now have a Master’s of Public Health in Policy and Management. If you’re curious about what classes one has to take to earn that kind of degree, check out the post, What I learned in each class I took in my MPH program, on my professional(ish) blog.

In all seriousness, though: it was a really tough program, especially while working full time (and changing jobs in the middle of it!). And it was also incredibly rewarding.  My cohort was amazing; I made so many great new friends and connections that have taught me so much over the last two years. I’m excited to see what great things come out of my cohort in the years to come!

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My Capstone team, AKA The Sisterhood of the Hot Mess, at the end of Basecamp

To celebrate my badassery, Richie and I went to Jamaica the day after I finished my program! We stayed at a resort on the cliffs of Negril and indulged in relaxation, jerk chicken, and rum.

Along with the trip, my graduation gift was a Nikon D3300, and Jamaica was a gorgeous setting to learn how to use it! Here’s a slideshow of some select shots. Enjoy!

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July in Review

July was very…social. Looking back at our calendar for highlights made me realize that we don’t have any big things to report, but we definitely filled our weekends with the stuff of summer: pools, BBQs, hikes, and happy hours. (Among work and homework, of course!)

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At Falls Lake, with little evidence of pool time on my skin

Other than enjoying summer, Lucy had ACL surgery (again, on her other rear leg) and is enjoying a smooth recovery…after a rocky start.

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naked haunch!

Finally, the countdown is ON: I finish school on August 23rd and we have a lot of other stuff to look forward to. More on that later, hopefully in more frequent Blogikahn posts!

June in Review + a May addition

June was mighty fun. And hot.
I had the pleasure of taking two weekend trips in June. The first was 24 hours in Charleston with some lady friends of mine. Thanks to Lori for being such an amazing tour guide!
We started with drinks at a rooftop bar.
Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 4.13.55 PMThen, we wandered around downtown. I took a ton of pictures in the cemetery at St. Philip’s Church, but this one stands out:

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It’s haunted!!!! (Seriously–I did NOT do this!)

We did some more wandering and had some more drinks (some courtesy of a guilt-ridden Charlestonian who stole the best seat in the house from us), and had dinner on the water, complete with dolphins.

Finally, we made it to the beach just before returning to Durham.
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We unfortunately did not spot Bill Murray.
The other weekend trip was for a wedding on Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks. This was our first trip to OBX, and it won’t be our last! But, it’s quite a hike for just a weekend–over 6 hours and you don’t even leave the state? Where are we, California?
Anyway, despite the fact that we didn’t take very many pictures, the island and wedding were lovely. We stayed in a sweet little cabana that had a lovely pool and was really nice inside, and the beach was beautiful–so many crabs!
And big congrats to our friends (and neighbors) Sarah and Ian!
Also in June: a trip to Sennett’s Hole along the Eno River:
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Modelo’s newest spokesmodel

…All this time in the water, I should invest in another bathing suit.

I also got to work on the Durham Civil Rights History Mural a little, too!
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***
Plus, something I forgot to mention in my May recap:

We saw Frank Turner!!! In Winston-Salem! On a school night, no less. We’re such rebels.

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Don’t we look like we’re in love?

At his show, we got swabbed for the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do, but just never got around to. For more information, visit deletebloodcancer.org.