I am in catch up mode because I have some blog posts to write about MY AMAZING TWO WEEK TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA FROM NOVEMBER 13TO TO 28TH HOLY COW IT IS THE COOLEST THERE THE BEST.
But I have over 1000 photos to properly sort and brilliant text to write.
So I will first recount some fun activities prior to that trip which I also do not want to forget.
I now always refer to Colton and James as “my husband and his boyfriend” and oooooh how it makes me laugh.
We went to Smith Street Diner in Greensboro, midway between me in Chapel Hill and Coltie in Winston Salem. (James was visiting for the weekend). Smith Street Diner is SO good and SO cheap. So we all opted, along with the $4.95 breakfast combo, to go for it and each get a side of a giant pancake for an additional 95 cents. IT WAS WONDERFUL.
Speaking of friends and brunch, I hosted a ladies brunch for my lovely friend Lesli’s birthday.
- Smitten Kitchen chilaquiles brunch casserole (yummm)
- This very excellent and easy french toast casserole
- Cantaloupe from the farmer’s market (this brunch was in August hahaha. I am behind on blogging. Anyway being August it was really wonderful fresh cantaloupe!)
- And then other guests brought donuts from Rise, fixings for mimosas, additional deliciousness
- Oh also we made fun coffee drinks with my nespresso
Another weekend, some lady friends and I went to the reliably amazing Designer Consigners sale in Cary. It’s a twice yearly event where one can purchase items from J Crew etc. that are used but in perfect condition and sold at a v. considerable discount. And it is sooo well organized and things are so well labeled and like a solid 25% of my professional wardrobe is from there.
Then, because we are already in Cary, we have to go get brunch at La Farm, because it is incredz.
I was honestly aghast when I ordered french onion soup and this arrived.
Like… the entire top of the bowl is supposed to be one large cheese and bread explosion.
That said, the broth was DE-LISH, as was the (still too small) bread and cheese involved. So.
I got some additional goodies from La Farm to go and brought them to Coltie to hang out in Winston Salem for the night. These were:
- A pear and almond tart
- a strawberry poppy seed meringue
- a chocolate pretzel macaron
That night in Winston Colton tried to make me watch Gay Best Friend which is a truly horrible fake high school movie. And then at a certain point I had to make it stop and we watched the West Wing instead.
Another weekend and even more sugar- I was invited to tailgate with Kyle and Shaylen and Kyle’s law school bros (seriously it was all men hahaha. They stood around in a cluster playing cornhole and talking about jury trials. Shaylen and I gossiped. It was a real cliche).
I cannot show up to anything empty handed so I made Smitten Kitchen’s salted chocolate chunk cookies. Magnificent. And so quick to execute!
Another pre-Halloween weekend, I went with Emily to see Hocus Pocus (!!) which was showing at the Carolina Theater as part of their Halloween movie festival. The movie HELD UP- young Thora Birch is just delightful. And some of the people who attended dressed up, which was adorable.
More Halloween festivities… my friends held their annual pumpkin carving party and I made this cute thing! Of course I wanted a template that involved a kitty cat.
As usual, the deer destroyed it, but at least they let me display it for a couple of days. They’re such dicks, though… they take a bit out of its face and then spit it out next to it. YOU DON’T LIKE PUMPKIN. WE BOTH NOW THAT NOW. SO STOP EATING MY PUMPKIN EACH YEAR THINKING YOU’LL CHANGE YOUR MIND.
Oh also we had a bunch of hurricanes.
Florence was REAL hyped up and then rather abruptly at the last minute she seemed to essentially detour around the Triangle of North Carolina. We got so, so lucky when so many people did not.
The memes were pretty strong throughout the crisis.
Also MY OLD FRIEND FROM SUMMER CAMP WENT VIRAL. She went to pick up some shelter doggos to shelter for the weekend and took a pic and THE REST IS HISTORY.
Also it is nice to see people be good.
The day Flo came in I took a morning walk and parked my car in the gym parking lot (so as to avoid any of my neighborhood’s numerous trees falling on it).
And then… my friend Emily just drove over in her Jeep in the middle of the storm?! And we ate pizza and salad and drank La Croix and watched scary movies?! RIDIC.
And then the next day everything was still fine but I felt like I’d maxed out my nervous system pre-stressing about the storm so I comforted myself with comfort food. Aka had a reuben for the first time in… 10 years? It was obviously delicious.
Also when you are anxious about bad weather and get very stressed maybe it is not the smartest thing to choose to purchase this Ted Bundy book for your hurricane reading:
Lola understood my anxiety.
So after all that Florence was fine and then the relatively low key Hurricane Michael which no one freaked out about that much… knocked out my neighborhood’s power for a couple of days. Go figure.
For some reason my gym had power (apparently it is just my safe space now?) so I went there and took a yoga class as I charged my phone. Then again I sought out comfort food in the form of a colossal sandwich:
And that first power-less night I walked out into my yard and looked at more stars than I’ve seen in a really long time!
And then I heard a voice in the distance and started thinking about Ted Bundy and sprinted back inside.
Fortunately things had calmed down by midweek the following week because…
I SAW MY FAVORITE MURDER LIVE! You can listen to their hilarity for yourselves because it was the Durham show which they posted it as a podcast episode! (But if you don’t already listen to My Favorite Murder please understand that it is a comedy show yet is also about gruesome true crimes and is not for everyone haha).
Being surrounded by other murderinos was v. exciting and in my same row there were two other fabulous ladies flying solo and we all shared our exciting hometown stories with each other.
More work things… The clinic continues to be awesome and super extra about celebrating people’s big life events. The nurse practitioner had her baby shower and they went all out on decorating.
This sign in particular cracked me up.
My organization also held our fall retreat. It was pretty cute. I always wish there could be a happy medium between the soul crushing reality that can be our day-to-day (fighting our crappy new software system, dealing with the drama of our patients’ very difficult lives) versus the superficial games that have nothing to do with patient care that were all we did at the retreat… but whatever. I’m not in management. (THANK GOD).
There was a very large dessert table- I opted for one of these cupcakes, one because the decorations were amazing and two because they looked homemade.
One of the activities was making pumpkin emojis (…) and these were some of my favorites.
But anyway, I have to brag about BY FAR my greatest professional accomplishment to date which occurred at the retreat:
Now, to be clear, this says “Winning Team”, but the hula hoop challenge had single competitors… and I CRUSHED IT. I don’t know what it is, because I am far from an athlete… but it is like my body was made by God to hula hoop. I can easily do it for 40 minutes at a time. The balance is not difficult, the motion is not difficult, I can zone out and just hula hoop and hula hoop and hula hoop. It’s great. So I, ILEANA, rocked the hula hoop competition. There was no team effort.
Actually, the dietitians as individuals did EXCEPTIONALLY WELL. There were two of us in this retreat of more than 100 people and I won hula hoop and Chelsea was on the two person team that won cornhole. So. DIETITIANS REPRESENT.
Shortly thereafter I hadn’t seen my mom in awhile, work was kicking my booty, and I had to pick up a suitcase at home for my South Africa trip (!!) So what that led to was me deciding at about 7pm on a Friday to go home and see my mother… and leaving like 15 minutes later and driving the 4+ hours to DC. I am rarely spontaneous but it was really really great. I got in quality time with my mom, who very sweetly stayed up til midnight on Friday to wait for me so we could visit together and gab about life.
AND, and I got in quality time with pho. I had felt a cold coming on and this nipped it in the bud. I love North Carolina but the pho here just does not measure up to Northern Virginia.
Sheila was also very pleased to see me. In this photo I am wearing a workout top because I had good faith intentions to go to the gym. But… who is going to turn down a cuddle with this sweet little ginger cat?! Once I’d petted her for, yknow, half an hour or so and she was finally sort of satisfied, I gave up on going to the gym and just took a long walk in the park. Which was v. nice.
Every time I have gone home in the past I’ve been all “Ugh, this is a real house with central heating and air conditioning and proper walls and proper doors and no random holes in it and a bathtub that isn’t covered in orange rust stains that are resistant to a magic eraser and it doesn’t have a washer in the bathroom and a dryer in the kitchen and I don’t have to duct tape the bathroom door so it’s always unlocked and can be pushed open, because otherwise everyone gets trapped inside the bathroom every time they shut the door” and so on. BUT. In fact, my personal home has had recent CONSIDERABLE improvement. First of all I found this fabulous chair at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store for $60. Lola has taken it as her own and loves it.
But bigger things have also been afoot! In short:
- We signed our lease this summer
- Our (sketchy) landlady almost immediately sold the duplex
- The new owners, instead of renting out the other half of our duplex, renovated the @*#& out of it. It was loud. And exciting things would happen like our heat would suddenly be going full blast in the middle of August and the only way to stop it was to figure out which switch on the circuit breaker controlled it.
- We were informed as they began this plan that they hoped we would move in to the newly renovated side so they could renovate our side, and we were like “Yep, sounds great, as long as we keep paying the same amount!”
- We got this @#@#)%* email out of nowhere
- I sent the following response to this (@#%&(@# email:
- We negotiated. My landlord referred to me as combative. I wanted to punch him in the nads. Fortunately my roommate stepped in and was good cop and did it beautifully and we came to a reasonable agreement with only a slight rent increase.
- We moved into the other side and it is REAL HECKIN FANCY! Basically looks like HGTV threw up on it. For example, this is the new shower/tub:
Having something pretty waiting for me at the end of the line was good, since moving is the worst, even when one is moving next door!
Fortunately I got some laughs in the exhausting process of cleaning out every inch of the old place… because getting behind and under the stove/refrigerator/washer/dryer resulted in my finding a certain someone’s stash of hidden hair ties:
Okay now we are roughly caught up on my pre-Africa life. Chronicles of my THRILLING TRAVELS are soon to come!