Category Archives: Durham

High 5 For Friday

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It’s SO hard to narrow down my top 5 favorites from this week! Looking back through the pictures* I’ve taken on my cell phone, I’m reminded of how blessed I am. May I never forget that.

1. Family. Spending time with my little cousins is priceless and even if they’re sometimes annoying, I love them to pieces! Autumn is such a sweetheart and is always so loving towards me. Every time I say bye to her, she squeezes me, kisses my cheek, and says, “you’re in my heart, Mere Mere.”

2. Spending time in the Word. Early mornings with coffee and my Bible are my favorites!

3. Exploring The Golden Belt area downtown and taking lots of pictures with Britt! (More to come on that later!)

4. Pad Thai and lunch with fun coworkers. We definitely had a case of the giggles yesterday and laughed throughout lunch.

5. My Valentine’s Day was truly great. My student cancelled class (I think he had a date!) so I went home to workout, eat leftovers, take a hot bath, and then watch Casablanca while chowing down on chocolates. Who needs flowers and a significant other? 😉 (although I do love flowers)

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*as I was editing this post earlier and trying to upload pictures, I found out that I have exceeded the 3GB of space that WordPress allows for free blogs. Now I’m torn between buying more space on here, or buying a domain. My biggest problem is that I have NO idea what I would (re)name my blog/domain! HELP!

High 5 for Friday!

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I’m linking up with Lauren again to share 5 of my favorite things from this week!

1. Chalking local sidewalks for National Literacy Action Week! Super fun.

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#NLAW!

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2. Pomegranate Kitchen. If you live in my area, I highly suggest you give this Persian food a try! It’s amazing and it’s my new favorite comfort food. I didn’t snag a picture of my delicious lunch (black eyed peas + rice + pomegranate stew) because I snarfed it down so quickly.

3. Downton Abbey. Yes, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon with this one after some friends insisted that I watch. I’m currently on episode 6 of season 2 and wow. I like it more than I thought! Do you watch Downton Abbey?

4. Watching/listening to Youngblood Hawke‘s acoustic session/chat yesterday afternoon was a nice break from listening to the usual classical music at work. Also, the newest album from Local Natives, Hummingbird, was released Tuesday so I’ve been listening to that! Both bands are based in LA so of course I’m wishing I were in that area to catch some awesome concerts!

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5. Ruzzle! It’s the only game I play on my phone. If you have Ruzzle, I challenge you to a game! 🙂 username: meremere7890

What have been your favorite things from this week?

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National Literacy Action Week

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Did you know that January 28 – February 3, 2013 is National Literacy Action Week?

If you’re like I was a month ago, you probably have no idea what that means. Allow me to enlighten you!

National Literacy Action Week (NLAW, not to be confused with Next-Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon which is a real thing. Google it.) is a week in which individuals/organizations raise awareness for literacy in their communities and its link to various social justice issues. You’ll see some shocking statistics below that show the binds between the importance of literacy in regards to social justice. You can find more information about NLAW here.

The organization where I serve is participating in NLAW by chalking: going to local places and writing statistics about literacy, quotes about literacy, and promoting our organization by writing our website. I was hesitant at first about chalking and its impact, but it’s actually been really fun and a great opportunity to spread the word about literacy! If you follow me on twitter, I’m sure you’ve seen the barrage of tweets about literacy, #NLAW, and photos from our chalking adventures. I’ve enjoyed spreading the word and enlightening people in Durham about literacy!

Monday we went to a local bookstore and chalked on their front sidewalks. It was our test-run, so to speak, and although we were prepared, we weren’t very organized at first. However, it turned out well and we talked to a few passersby about how our organization is trying to help Durham!

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With one of my fellow AmeriCorps members after chalking!

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60% of America’s prison inmates are illiterate. Can you believe that?!

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Quote by Frederick Douglass

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Had to include this since it’s why we were chalking!

Wednesday morning we planned on chalking at a local Center but the weather had other plans. After a random drizzle over Durham, we set back out to chalk up some stats and quotes and promote literacy! We were on a long sidewalk next to a fairly busy intersection and we got lots of stares, honks, waves, runners running by, and “I don’t believe that”‘s. Apparently, they don’t know the alarming statistic that 20% of Durham residents are functionally illiterate. 

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20%!

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I know quite a few of adults that make up that 14%.

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love this quote!

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this one breaks my heart. I can’t imagine!

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mandatory foot + hashtag photo

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wohoo! #NLAW

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Literacy –> Self-Advocacy –> A better life!

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We had a lot of sidewalk space to fill in so I suggested this silly “HOP into literacy” hopscotch idea.

Other stats :

– 21% of US adults read below a 5th grade level. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 32 million US adults can’t read. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 19% of high school graduates can’t read. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 774 million people worldwide can’t read. (National Institute of Literacy)

– 85% of juveniles who enter the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate. (Begintoread.com)

– Low literary costs $73 million per year in terms of direct health care costs. (Begintoread.com)

 

You may not be a resident of my community, but I’m sure wherever you do reside there are literacy issues that cause other issues. What are you doing to spread the word about the importance of literacy?

 

Although National Literacy Action week is almost over, it doesn’t have to be! We can advocate for literacy year-round and help people in our community learn the invaluable skill set of reading & writing. Feel free to participate in the NLAW activities/conversations/tweets using the #NLAW hashtag!

 

 

Hey Guess What

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It’s “Hey Guess What” time, also known as “I’m too busy to write a blog post about my California adventures and upload all of those photos, so instead I’m going to tell you about my crazy life lately.”

Betcha didn’t know what you were getting into when you decided to read this post, right? 😉

Without further adieu, hey guess what-

 

– this North Carolina girl has been California-sick since returning home. I miss the warmer weather, the people I met, the languages, culture, and the city-life. Never thought I would say I missed the city!

– I’m over halfway through with Anna Karenina! I’ve been reading it off and on since August, but lately I’ve been reading a few chapters every night on my Nook. Surprisingly, I’m really enjoying it!

– I’m currently tutoring a GED Writing student. Actually, I’m currently blogging while he writes an essay, but technically I’m still tutoring.

– I started watching Downton Abbey last night! The first episode was alright… I’m curious to see what happens next though and figure out what all of the hype is about! 😉

– Cream soda is probably one of my favorite simple splurges at Foster’s Market. I usually stick with water at restaurants, but Boylan‘s Cream Soda gets me every time!  (Foster’s has an amazing pastries/candy selection so sometimes I’m tempted by those things as well!)

– This week (and last for that matter) have been super hectic at work. We’ve been intaking/testing new students, having new tutor orientations, and gearing up for tutor training next week which is a whole other ordeal! I’m working nearly 11 hours each day, and will be so glad when things slow back down!

– There’s a Dirty Girl 5K coming to the area, and I’m hoping to sign up! Any local chicas want to be on my team?

– I got up early and worked out yesterday. Despite the fact that I thought I was going to pass out (too much tabata on an empty stomach. Oops?), I had so much energy throughout the day and slept so well last night!

– Tuesday was a great day overall. I woke up early and got a great start to my day by working out, cooked breakfast & lunch, made it to work early, tested some new students, got a latte with a friend, tutored my student, started a new online Bible study, and was in bed by 11. Wohoo!

– My GED student just got confused on how to determine when to use “it’s” and “its” and I had to Google it. And I’m a Linguistics major. Fail.

– Don’t ya hate how life can get so busy and you can’t seem to make time for friends? I do. That’s why I’m glad some friends from college were in my neck of the woods Friday night- I met them for dinner and we talked for hours!

– My cousin and I have been going to church together for a few weeks on Saturday evenings. I prefer going on Saturdays, and it’s been nice hanging out with him outside of family get togethers. We spent 30 minutes in the parking lot talking about life! (And for the record, that’s a record- the most he’s talked to me in years!)

– I have been having the craziest dreams lately- one night it was about someone I’ve talked to but haven’t met in person, and last night I had a dream I was pregnant. It was sooo crazy… it felt so real! I don’t know where these dreams have been coming from but I wish they didn’t seem so real!

– I’ve been emailing a friend from Australia who I met in LA and it’s fun finding out about life “Down Under!” I’m definitely going to be vacationing there in the future.

– AWOLNATION is going to be in Raleigh in March. Anyone want to go to the concert with me?!

– Speaking of vacations, I’m already looking forward to spring break this year. Hopefully I can take a little trip! 🙂

– The past four nights I have debated whether I should read, blog, or watch Netflix before bed. Clearly, blogging has taken the backseat :/

– Apparently snow is in the forecast for my area tomorrow night? That’s just according to twitter and word of

mouth, so I’m not sure how reliable that is!

– Sauteed garlic, kale & chickpeas are a new favorite combo for me. So quick, easy & tasty!

– Um, a GED student showed up for class at 7:56 and class ends at 8:00. Crazy.

– I’m counting down the minutes until I can leave work and go home. My bed (and vanilla soy milk) is calling my name. And of course there’s still the inner debate between watching Netflix or reading Anna Karenina… what would you choose?

 

I promise a San Francisco blog post in the next few days! 🙂

 

Top 12 in 2012

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There is no way I could possibly end this year without a round-up or list of some kind. It’s no surprise that I love lists. With my forgetful nature it’s imperative that I have some sort of ongoing list on the back of an envelope with my enclosed bank statement (true story) whether it be a grocery list, my infamous mile-long to-do lists, or a list of blogging ideas. I am a list maker.

So without further adieu, I give you my top 12 from 2012: a random concoction of top memories, moments, images that stick out in my mind as being associated with this year.

12. Living in Durham

To the outsider, Durham may seem “ghetto” or “sketchy” or whatever other adjectives you might attribute to my city. But, to the insider and a Durham native her whole life, it’s a pretty great place to live. This year living back in Durham after college has been adventurous & interesting, to say the least. I’ve learned a lot about my hometown and explored new places, even started a new job in Durham. I wouldn’t trade this city for anything. 2012 has been fun, Durham, let’s see what 2013 has in store!

11. Turner Classic Movies

It sounds silly, but this year has been a great year because I’ve been able to watch TCM! I didn’t get the channel in college, and I had missed out on so many good old movies. This year, I’ve definitely upped my old movie watching and even started tweeting during some films, using the hashtag #TCMParty. It’s been so fun talking with other classic film lovers and learning all sorts of new facts about actors, directors, & films!

10. The Durham Bulls

I would be terribly remiss to post about my year and not include the Durham Bulls in some way or another. So many of my spring & summer memories involve a baseball game, or being around the ballpark. I’ve lost track of how many “girl’s nights” were had at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park with dinner before at Tobacco Road, Tyler’s, or Mellow Mushroom… how many bags of peanuts I purchased and devoured… how many tweets I tweeted to @DurhamBulls… how many parking passes I had in my car from parking before games. 2012 will be remembered as the year I learned to love the Durham Bulls all over again.

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9. Summit Church

After years of hearing great things about this body of believers, I finally visited one Sunday back in April. That church is huge, and despite my introvertedness, I have enjoyed going back and blending in amidst everyone. Each time I go, I learn so much. I can’t really describe it or put into words how thankful I am for a church like that and strong leader JD Greear. His messages challenge me, make me want to be a better follower of Christ, and make me long to serve overseas. All in all, The Summit has made a huge impact on my life in 2012.

8. Volunteering as a literacy tutor

This has definitely been one of the highlights of my year, possibly even my life. Giving someone the gift of literacy, who has gone their whole life without being able to read something as simple as a menu, is so rewarding and fun! Sure, it’s been challenging on both ends, but I think my student would agree that this year has been a huge blessing and learning experience! After all, he did read his first book ever just a few months ago!

I highly urge you to volunteer somewhere and make a difference in someone’s life! If you’re in the Durham area, let me know- I have a great place for you to volunteer! 😉  (shameless plug)

7. Live Music

As I’ve said before, there’s nothing more magical to me than live music. Ok, Disney ranks up there with magical, but I simply love live music. This year I got to see a few artists/groups in concert, and it was great! Jessie Baylin, The Fray, Lucius, and Milo Greene. Plus, every Sunday at church is like a mini-concert with the awesome worship music! 🙂

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MILO GREENE

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Isaac on the keys

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6. The NC Cow Parade

No, I’m not crazy. If you live in the Triangle area, you should have heard of the Cow Parade by now. If not, read about it here. I got to “meet” a few of these incredibly creative cows in and around the Durham area while they were in town. I think it’s so cool that something so big can be associated with my city this year!

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the Burt’s Bees cow!

5. Maximus Decimus Meridius AKA the puppy we call Max.

Gifted to Mom for Mother’s Day, this little fella has brought so much love, so many smiles, and lots of memories to our family. I love coming downstairs in the mornings to his sleepy self, and coming home in the evenings to a hyperactive puppy… it’s hilarious how excited he gets to see his family!

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November 2012

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July 2012

4. Cancer

This year, I was reminded just how much I want to kick cancer in the rear. I lost two dear souls to that horrible disease, and it breaks my heart thinking of how many other lives were lost to cancer this year. I know both of my loved ones are now with their Savior, but I wonder how many others are assured that their loved one with Him?

In honor and memory of my loved ones who lost their lives to cancer, I donate platelets as often as I can. It’s something so simple and easy, yet it can save someone’s life!

3. Disney World

I think everyone can agree that Disney is just so magical that it makes them feel like a kid. Disney truly was magical this past March as my crazy family paraded the streets of the theme parks, rode rides, and took too many pictures.

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2. My California Trip!

Clearly I have been way too eager and excited to visit the West Coast for the past few months, but this was the year that dream became a reality! I have SO many pictures and stories to share about the trip, and if you can’t wait for my dozens of recap posts, feel free to follow me on twitter and read my tweets from the trip!

 

1. Blogging!

Typical answer for a blogger, yes, but I have loved keeping track of my life with this blog, and finding other bloggers in my area! It’s been fun “meeting” other bloggers and I enjoy reading blogs as much as I enjoy blogging. Let’s see what the next year holds in store for me & this blog! 🙂

Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop

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“I think that possibly, maybe, I’ve fallen for you. Yes, there’s a chance that I’ve fallen quite hard over you. I’ve seen the paths that your eyes wander down, I want to come too… I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

Ever since I first heard this song by Landon Pigg, it has been my dream to fall in love in a coffee shop.

Silly, yes, but I’m a hopeless romantic. Go ahead and laugh.

In college, at least three days out of the week, you could find me at the local Einstein’s, Dunkin’, or Starbucks in Greenville, SC. Perfect places to study, people watch, and daydream. Killing three birds with one stone latte? Bingo!

Although I was hardly there alone (yes I had friends in college), I always imagined that my studying session or chat with a friend would be interrupted by some mysterious guy walking in, smiling at me and then proceeding to come over and introduce himself. I’m a huge daydreamer, I know!

As dumb as it is, I still daydream about sitting in a coffee shop reading, blogging, or studying, and catching the eye of another customer. I daydream about time seeming to stand still as our eyes meet. I daydream about meeting the man of my dreams and falling in love… in a coffee shop.

“I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

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A few Sundays ago, Mom and I were out and about running some errands, when I suggested we stop in Starbucks and grab drinks. Despite the fact that she’s a self-proclaimed “coffee snob” and dislikes Starbucks, she agreed to quickly run in and order my drink to go. Of course, that didn’t happen when she saw the Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino on the menu…she had to get a drink too 😉

While we were waiting for our drinks, Mom was doing her typical scoping the area out, as was I. We both happened to notice that most tables were full of students studying… cute guy students studying. Mom insisted that we stay and relax for a while, all the while she was scheming up a plan.

Unfortunately there was one empty table- towards the corner, where it was hard to see people or watch them. But, Mom was insistent that we sit there and chat for a few. So chat we did. I honestly feel so much more comfortable opening up to people about my life when I’m in a coffee shop setting. Random fact, yes.

When she had slurped the last of her drink (because really, frappuccinos require some slurpage), we stood up to make room for more studying students. As we walked out, I glanced back at one handsome study-er in particular and smiled. I wonder if he even noticed?

In the car, Mom told me of her plan to introduce me to a guy in Starbucks. She had a little script planned out and everything. Yeah her idea and intentions behind it were nice, but on a scale of 1 to 10, having my mother randomly introduce me to a random cute guy in Starbucks ranks up there with MOST AWKWARD SITUATION EVER.

Fast forward one week to the following Sunday. I was meeting a friend to discuss California trip plans before church. As we’re waiting for our drinks, I notice a particular handsome study-er from the week before waiting in line and have a mini freak out.

Twice in one week in the same place?! Why haven’t I been here more often?! How have I not seen this man before?!

My friend and I sit down and start talking excitedly about Cali. We discuss minor details and then start reading the San Francisco for Dummies & Frommer’s Guide to Los Angeles 2011 that I bought in preparation. When it comes to trip planning, I get serious.

I couldn’t help but watch handsome study-er as he got his drink and headed over to sit down and read the newspaper by the window. I couldn’t help but attempt a smile as he glanced my way. I couldn’t help but watch him as he moved to a different chair and pull out his Bible. I couldn’t help but pray for him in that moment. I couldn’t help but wonder…  and wish there were some way to meet him without being 100% awkward like I always am.

With my luck I will probably never see this guy again, no matter how many times I visit that Starbucks. But it was nice, for a few moments on Sunday, to daydream about possible beginnings to a story that included him… and I’ll admit I’ve thought about his face more than once since then.

“I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much.”

So here’s to all you other daydreamers out there- may you find love. Whether it be in a beloved coffee shop or on the bus, in the checkout line at the grocery store or at work, online or next door.

 

Children’s Hospitals

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Every year the North Carolina Children’s Hospital does a big radiothon/telethon to raise money for the hospital. This year was the 11th annual fundraiser and a charity concert was added to the mix, called “Country for Kids” to be hosted by country radio station 94.7 QDR and to take place at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Ticket sales went quickly, as country fans from all over the Triangle snatched them up. I was lucky enough to get two free tickets from my mom’s office, and although I’m not a huge country fan, I couldn’t turn up a free (for me) concert!

There were 6 artists who performed in the concert last Tuesday night: Jason Michael Carroll, Josh Thompson, Kix Brooks, Gloriana, Scotty McCreery & Lee Brice. And I think you should know that they offered their music and their time for free, absolutely free. The only thing these artists gained from the concert was the adoration of their fans and possibly a few t-shirt sales. I think it’s admirable that they gave of their time and talents to support the NC Children’s Hospital.

I would show you some of my horrible quality cell phone pictures, but instead I’ll show you a few from 94.7’s facebook page!

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Lee Brice

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For some reason or another, I love his mohawk

Read the rest of this entry

Month of Thanks

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All month I’ve been keeping a running list of things I’m thankful for… however small, silly, random they may be. It’s been a good exercise and I think I’m going to keep it up throughout the coming months. That way, whenever I feel I have something to complain about I can just look at all the little things I’m thankful for.

1- For a new picture for the monthly calendar in the office! And the ability/opportunity to participate in webinars and learn all sorts of things as an AmeriCorps member.

2- Thankful for running water, even if it is super cold at work when I wash my hands.

3- Thankful for dogs whom I love dearly,  and the fact that dogs know how to get back home! [they ran away. Post on it’s way 😉 ] Also thankful for my married friends whom I love and have so much fun with although I don’t get to see them often!

4- Time change and an “extra” hour of sleep. And caramel macchiatos. Read the rest of this entry