13 Memories of 2013

Oh yes: it is that time of the year. The time when lists upon lists emerge from the woodwork, from the top 10 songs of 2013 to the top 10 memes of the year to the top 10 list of top 10 lists.

I’m going to continue that tradition with three lists before the New Year.

The first list is the more thoughtful, reflective review of the past 12 months: the top 13 memories of 2013 (let’s just hope that I don’t see 2099 because that list would be ridiculous.)

In no particular order, the Pursuit of Paulson is proud to announce the finalists of what memories stuck out the most (and what I could recall thanks to my profileration of social media):

13 Memories of 2013

1) Getting engaged
(October 25, 2013 – Biltmore Estates, Asheville – surprise!!)

1393894_10101773345887515_307372616_nThe “Oh hai – look at this ring” photo

PostEngagementThe first photo post-engagement. This is a KEEPER (both the photo and the man!)

2) Graduating with a Master of Public Administration degree (Tar! Heels!)

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3) Transition into plant-based diet, more natural lifestyle

Goodbye dairy, eggs, meat…goodbye antibacterial sprays…goodbye Crest toothpaste. A slow but steady transition since June and will continue into 2014!

4) Surprise birthday party

That sneaky Aaron! We went to Saxapahaw when my friend Laura came to town to see The Old Ceremony at the Haw River Ballroom and grab a bite beforehand at The Eddy Pub:

485434_10101903551010412_1164865437_nWe happened to run into our friends, Ben and Dawnya, at the bar and they offered us a sneak peak of the digs for the soon-to-open Haw River Ales. As we were looking around the space and Dawnya explained the vision to me, a random dog trotted into the room. Following said dog were friends of ours. I was quite perplexed – why did our friends just come out of the shadows? Then, it hit me:

425211_10101903912281422_491576194_nRealism captured – “No way! NO WAY!!”

Great friends. Great partner. Great beer. So, so blessed!

5) O.A.R. concert in Raleigh

By far, the best O.A.R. show I had experienced (now, granted my number pales in comparison to Aaron’s.) Similar to 2012, we were up front on the rail. But, the energy this year was beyond comprehension. The guys simply melted all of our faces off, even on a Sunday night.

6) Cards Against Humanity

This ridiculous, sometimes inflammatory (sometimes? well, most of the time) game appeared at many social events this past year, making me realize that we are all terrible, terrible people. And then we laugh.

7) Chicago-Michigan road trip

Our annual adventure featured so many new sights, tastes, and sounds and some familiar ones as well: from checking off more breweries (Perrin Brewing, Right Brain, Short’s Brewing, Harmony Brewing, Three Floyd’s) to famous beer bars (Hop Cat, The Mitten Bar), to nature galore (Pictured Rocks State Park, Meijer Gardens) to a Taste of Chicago to meeting new people to learning Hand & Foot (great card game!) to visiting Mount Pleasant (Fire Up Chips!) – it was all amazing.

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8) Wicked Weed

How did a brewery make this list? BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME. Seriously, Wicked Weed just celebrated its one-year anniversary, and its entrance into North Carolina’s beer scene has been nothing less than explosive. Besides have over two dozen of their OWN beers on draft at the brewery, Wicked Weed is not afraid to take on adventurous styles, open fermentation processes, and challenging our palates. While not every beer is incredible (as would seem nearly impossible), Wicked Weed overwhelmingly produces delicious craft brew.

9) YMCA

From the physically-demanding classes (Bootcamp2, Cardio Intervals, Cycle) to those demanding in a different way (Yoga, PiYo), the Durham YMCA branches have helped me reach a new level of fitness this year. But, it’s been more than just 6am classes. There is such a strong sense of community, kinship and support from other members. I have had the immense pleasure of developing so many new relationships with such inspirational people.

10) Half-Marathon PR

So, that was pretty exciting. 1:44:12 in the 2013 Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon. Big kudos to the 1:45 pacers that I kept up with for the vast majority of the run. They were even kind enough to allow a Tar Heel to run amongst the Wolfpack (and the race was the day after UNC defeated NC State in football…which wasn’t saying much this year, kids.)

11) Young Nonprofit Professional Network (YNPN)

I joined the YNPN – Triangle Chapter Board of Directors for 2013. YNPN is “a movement activating emerging leaders to advance a diverse and powerful social sector.” Essentially, there are chapters across the country designed to bring together nonprofit professionals for collaboration, skill development, networking, and more. I had attended socials during 2012 and quickly realized what an amazing resource this is for those in the nonprofit sector. In May, I represented North Carolina at the national YNPN conference in Phoenix (guess why I went…?) The conference was one of the best I have ever attended. I left with a vast amount of knowledge, a reinvigorated sense of self, and a host of business cards from all the do-gooders I had the pleasure to meet. If you are in the nonprofit sector, I would highly encourage connecting to one of the chapters closest to you! (And, if you are in the Triangle, you better join us!!)

12) Attending a practice round at the Master’s

Augusta. The pinnacle of golf perfection. Hint: it lived up to its reputation. The immaculate grounds made you feel like you were in a different world (especially since outside of those gates was a not-so-glamorous look at low-socioeconomic America). The $2 pimento cheese sandwich was pretty baller. But, the best part was how relaxed the atmosphere was during the Par 3 competition. I had the opportunity to see those golfers I had watched on TV for years just a few feet away.

901578_10101383735669515_2090858712_oI love this photo because it looks like we were pasted in via PhotoShop. I promise we were not.

13) Beach living: visiting the Outer Banks

Somehow, despite living in NC for more than 5 years, I had not been to the OuterBanks. So, in honor of my birthday and graduation, Aaron kindly whisked me away for a long weekend at OBX. We toured the Wright Brothers Memorial, did some dune jumping at Jockey’s Ridge State Park, drove up to Duck and Corolla, visited the Outer Banks Brewing Station and Weeping Radish, connected with our friends to celebrate, and did some serious relaxation in our Tommy Bahama chairs.

1053323_10200658843126008_1416035097_oCelebrations at the Outer Banks Brewing Station467763_10101463083031765_888127377_o

Wee!

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50/40/30/20/10 Workout

Warm-Up: 5 minutes walking/jogging

Cardio Blast: 12 minutes of alternating between 2 minutes goal race pace and 1 minute of sprinting. For instance, I opted my 2 minute blasts at an 8 minute pace and sprinted between 7 minute – 7:30 minute pace.

Circuit #1

50 squat thrusts

40 rows

30 burpees

20 suitcase crunches

10 plank-ups (moving from a plank pose down to elbows and up again = 1 rep)

Circuit #2

50 wall squat leg lifts

40 plank jacks

30 alternating lunges with bicep curls or overhead press

20 Russian twists

10 peoplemakers (aka manmakers)

Circuit #3

50 squat jumps

40 butterfly sit-ups

30 plank twists

20 overhead slams

10 spiderman push-ups

Christmas 2013: To Peace on Earth, Quality Time with Loved Ones, and Delicious Fare

Alas, my goal to blog daily until the end of the year fell short. NEWS FLASH: I am not perfect. But, I’m picking up the typing wand again this morning to share the joys of the Christmas season here in Durham via time with family (even through Google Hangout), delicious recipes, and tasty libations.

IMAG1144Nothing like kicking off Christmas morning at 3:30am, Milo. For that, you must wear the sticker.

Growing up, we actually opened presents on Christmas Eve after church. I have found this piece of family history to stun people, especially those from the South. On Christmas Day, we opened our stockings (or socks) and then I would open presents from Santa (insert only child spoiled reference). As I got older and had to navigate the multiple Christmas celebrations, opening presents on Christmas Day became more common place. Aaron’s family tradition was also Christmas Day, so we’ve made that part of ours moving forward.

Some fun things Santa brought to me under the tree:

  • University of Arizona t-shirt, car magnets, towel (Bear Down!)
  • Dehydrator (Eager to try!)
  • Socks (lots of awesome athletic socks, including neon colors)
  • Crate and Barrel Six Pack Plates
  • Vegan cookbook
  • New clothes from cAbi
  • Mango slicer
  • Ice scraper (!!)
  • Collapsible measuring cups
  • Tickets to see Brett Dennen at the Carolina Theatre

and other super generous items from family, friends, and Santa.

Post-wrapping paper explosion, it was time to eat into grub. Because we had so much of this incredible vegetarian chili leftover, I opted to delay making the Glazed Apple Walnut Loaf for a few days.

Super delicious and heaty Quinoa Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili

Roasted brussel sprouts = can one go wrong with this dish EVER?IMAG1145

Mashed sweet ‘tatersIMAG1146

Holiday Salad with Apple Cider Cinnamon Vinaigrette via Eat Spin Run = AMAZING (this is on meal repeat)

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Christmas Plate 2013

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Wow – isn’t that just a beautiful sight!

Other treats for the holidays including opening our 2012 Fruitcake from Fullsteam Brewery. Wow: it was smooth, still quite a lot of bourbon-flavor but not so overwhelming as it had been on draft.

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I couldn’t open the 2013 Christmas Ale from Anchor Brewing until the actual date either:

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It wasn’t quite as good, in my opinion, as previous years. Not enough spice and body for me, but still enjoyable.

After food and taking a midday walk, another family tradition of mine has always been to see a movie on Christmas Day. Aaron has helped maintain the tradition for our two North Carolina Christmas celebrations, as we ventured to see American Hustle. I highly recommend it – between fantastic writing, stellar acting performances from Christian Bale/Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper/Amy Adams/Jeremy Renner/Louis C.K., thoughtful cinematography, and delectable fashion, it’s a winner. Great plot twists as well: I found myself vacillating on how I felt about each character, and where I finished is not where I expected. Enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Thanks to a 3:30am initial wake-up call from Milo (as we are into official Day 2 of “Under no circumstances will we give into your crying, whining ways. cat” training), it has been quite the start to Christmas morning. As of right now, I’m the only one awake, and I’m definitely feeling that “Oooo – let’s open things!” itch.

For a more non-traditional Christmas Eve than in years past, we went out to eat at The Pit‘s new location in Durham (next to Fullsteam Brewery – how apropos!) Whole-hog BBQ? You might think it would be a vegan’s nightmare, but in fact, The Pit offers TWO, yes, TWO tofu dishes! After inquiring on the BBQ sauce’s ingredients (confirmed: no dairy), I ordered the BBQ Tofu with grilled vegetables. It was really good! The BBQ sauce was not overly sweet, had a bit of kick, and the tofu was cooked well (cut into fun medallions). I also enjoyed an incredibly fresh Founder’s Porter on draft. It was so creamy – mmmm! My mouth still waters.

Since we were right next door, we had to stop in to Fullsteam for a quick pint and to show Aaron’s mom where we met.  Aaron took his first taste of Fruitcake the Beer for 2013. This year’s batch is REALLY smoky, which I did not particularly like. Here is Fullsteam’s description of this unique Christmas concoction:

“Fruitcake…The Beer is a 10% ABV old ale venturing into barleywine territories. It’s brewed with local figs we bought from our local Foragers and house-roasted chestnuts from High Rock Farm. And if that’s not enough, we age the beer in bourbon barrels. This year, we added twice the roasted chestnuts than in our inaugural bottling of Fruitcake…The Beer, and the not-shy smoke-and-fruit combo really makes for a special beer. It combines the fruitiness of a tawny port with the smoke of a slightly peaty whiskey.”

1525383_10102470666760902_677146473_nFullsteam Selfie!

And now, I wait. I’ve got about 15 more minutes in me until only child Katie emerges and the “Aaron…Aaron…” starts. I am thinking of my family today, all of who I miss greatly, especially this time of year. This is only my second Christmas not with my parents in some way, shape or form, and I know it will not be the last. Sometimes growing up is hard, no?

Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy the special time together with those you love and remember those who have made positive impacts on your life. Cheers and good wishes!

Christmas Memories: The Christmas Rap cassette tape

As a child, I knew it was officially Christmas when it was time to go to the airport to pick up my Aunt Bette, who flew in from Chicago each year to spend the holidays with us in Phoenix. Of course, those were the days when you could literally walk up to the gate to wait for your loved ones. I would scan each face and look for the familiar glasses, reddish-blonde hair, and many years a Santa hat. Then – she would appear! I ran to hug her and we walked back to my mom together.

Aunt Bette always brought some little gift with her that she gave to me at the airport. It must have been 1990 or 1991 when the airport gift turned out to be this cassette tape: Crew X’s “The Christmas Rap.” This was, most definitely, my first encounter with “rap” music, and I LOVED THIS TAPE. I wore this sucker out year, after year, after year.

As I grew up and cassette tapes have now been all but eliminated, I had not thought about the Christmas Rap musical bonanza in some time. Yet, as December 25th nears, the familiar lyrics begin to bounce around in my head, stoking those emotional response that only brilliant lyrics like these could:

“Christmas rap is the First Noel. Born is the King of Israel.”

You’ll thank me later. The “12 Days of Christmas” is also amazing. Thank you, YouTube.