birthweekend with the family!

After my Tuesday birthday, I impatiently waited my family came down Thursday night. Lucky me, I got to see them so close to my birthday because my sister was coming to see… my program at UNC! That’s right, we might end up with two family MPH/RDs. (I’m in an ongoing, blatant effort to get all of my family and loved ones here- this is a great first step).

While my sister listened to my classmates and professors, my mom and I gallivanted around Eno River State Park, one of the most beautiful places in the area. I was very proud to zen motor there (despite the fact that in the past I’d only gone as a passenger in the boyf’s car; he loves that place!) and before we knew it we had reached the beautiful quarry.



Note the bobbing heads of the late-season swimmers in the water for perspective.


Sodreamy there.


Since we were already in Durham, I decided a lunch in cool downtown Durham would be a great way to make an even better case for the Triangle to my mom. We went to Toast and both got the crostini-and-a-side.

I got a salad with three kinds of crostini: avocado and manchego, fresh ricotta with roasted beets and oranges, and goat cheese with local honey and pepper. Heavennnn.


My mom got a potato-leek-lemon soup and also crostini, but she swapped one of my crostini for a “fairy tale eggplant” (aww) marinated veggie salad one. Delish! She also opted for a potato-leek soup.


After we picked up my sister from her orientation to campus, the family had an extremely leisurely afternoon. Relaxing coffee date, hanging out on the deck and doing face masks and manicures, and then taking YOGA together! I took my mom and sister to my favorite yoga studio: my sister’s first yoga class in her life! She waited til she was 23! We had lots of fun.

Then we met my friend Andrea at Mediterranean Deli. Always a delicious choice, and fun for people watching. I opted for three sides: the beets (which my mom and Andrea also got), a carrot pate, and foul mesdames, delicious Egyptian fava beans. Plus their yummy pita.


While at dinner it started pouring rain, and my car was still at the yoga studio. Oops family, sorry I got you so wet!

Saturday we romped around the lovely Carrboro farmer’s market, then I took a spontaneous detour to University Lake. It’s the reservoir for our water in Orange County, and it’s also open to the public on weekends to walk around and canoe and so on.

In lieu of water activities (we had lunch plans!) we just took some selfies. We got a lot of guidance from my sister, which is good, since my family is photographically challenged. She helped my mom and I rise to the occasion (the beautiful background certainly helped)…

mom and me


.. and then my ever attractive baby sister Malindi was front and center in our family selfie. It helps that it was a beautiful day and we were endlessly entertained by one another, but I think we pulled off a pretty good picture, eh?!



Then it was time for SOUL FOOD!



After my nutrition culture class at Mama Dip’s, I knew I’d have to take my family to Chapel Hill’s best source of soul food. I knew from my one previous trip that their portions were formidable, so my sister and I split an entree, the special of fried oysters. It came with two sides- we got the squash casserole and the greens- and then we got an additional side of the baked apples.



But then being out with my mom and Steve too, there was more sharing to be had! So my plate also ended up including a bite of Steve’s chicken and dumplings and a bunch of his mac and cheese.




Meanwhile, we’d all gotten bread with our entrees. Some of us got cornbread, some got biscuits. They were generous with how much they gave us. (In the background is my mother’s PERFECT fried chicken, which she shared generously with us, and blackeyed peas and okra).



In class, Mama Dip herself recommended putting molasses on the cornbread, so we all did that. (Great iron source, too!)


Steve was kind enough to take another family photo next to the Mama Dip’s sign. Lovely though we looked, I really wish I’d bothered to look down before posing with my leg off to the side… since I in fact ended up stepping on an ant nest and getting bites all over my foot that itched and burned for days. Oh, me. This is why I don’t like having my picture taken (and many, many, many more reasons!)

mama dips selfie

Saturday night I’d imagined a social evening outside Weaver Street Market, people watching and introducing my Carrboro besties to my family, drinking wine and relaxing in the fresh air. However, the weather did NOT cooperate.

Nonetheless, the wine did, accompanied with Indian takeout and the ambiance of my apartment. Steve cleverly brought over Taboo, and we had a ball.

Sunday, I was already sad at the thought of my family leaving. We had afternoon reservations for my birthday celebration (!) but had a few hours to occupy. First we went to one of my favorite breakfast establishments, Jesse’s. My mom had eaten hotel breakfast, but my sister had slept too late, and I was not staying at the hotel, so Malindi and I got yummy breakfast and my mom got a cappuccino. Isn’t my quiche pretty?! It was spinach and portabella.


Then we took another tea and coffee break at Oasis, a cozy little tea shop in Carr Mill Mall. We sat on cozy floor cushions next to the fake fireplace and gabbed with my roomie and her boyfriend, who’d spent most of their weekend getting hailed on at a music festival.

And then off we went to Durham, for fancy afternoon tea at the Washington Duke Inn! I’d celebrated my friend Andrea’s birthday with her there, so we decided to just make it a classy ladies’ birthday tradition.



My mom super generously treated us to the full afternoon tea. It was quite the amazing production!

The top tier of our beautiful tray (with one serving for each of us) had deviled eggs, open faced cucumber sandwiches, smoked turkey sandwiches, and fig jam and cheese sandwiches.



Next we had smoked gouda slices, pimiento cheese toasts, chicken salad cups, and mushroom mini quiches.



At the bottom were chocolate covered strawberries, blackberry-topped lemon bars, chocolate cherry truffles, fruit tarts, and caramel apple tarts.



Also, unpictured scones (a choice between brown sugar walnut and dried blueberry and orange peel) that came with clotted cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd.

SUCH a treat, and in a beautiful location that made me feel like a very very special birthday girl. Plus with my favorite ladies!

And just when I thought the birthday celebrating was done, out came the cake!



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