The Weekender: All the Eats, Drinks, Flowers, and Sunshine

I had a very full weekend a few weeks ago and I thought it might be fun to take you along for the ride. Follow along for a very active weekend.

Friday and the Perfectly Spicy Happy Hour

The weather was absolutely perfect last Friday, a whopping 77 degrees to be exact. In celebration of spring and it’s official arrival here in the south, one of my best girlfriends and I decided it was well-past time for a spicy margarita happy hour.

We decided to go to Salt and Lime Cabo Grill in North Raleigh. If you haven’t been, then you need to. Definitely try the guacamole with pineapple. The tacos are good too but we just got margs and chips and guac. You know we had to get a seat out on their back patio to soak up some of the sun.

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Saturday and All the Premium Content

Saturday, the same girlfriend Rebekah and I went to a indoor cycling class at CycleBar in the morning and then went to get some photos in the lovely weather before heading downtown for lunch. We like to stop by Raleigh Raw sometimes and get poke!

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As you may or may not know, I am obsessed with dogs and it is my personal mission to pet them all if I can. Even though I have my own angel to love on doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate all the other good boys and girls out there. I will actually run across the street to pet a dog, no question. I’m that committed to my goal.

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I need you to appreciate his bandana and cute scrunchie face. Those tiny little paws too, I’m sorry but I cannot handle the cuteness! These are just a few of the cuties I had met along my journey.

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Little City Brewing is the absolute cutest and I live for the decor. I go nuts for some great mid-century modern decor, it’s a real problem honestly. I normally hate sitting at the bar because I hate sitting on stools, but their bar stools are so cute and so comfy because they have a comfy leather back with some pin-tucked details.

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How cute are these drinks though! On Saturday’s they have $6 French 76s which are typically in my experience called French 75s, but I am not one to nitpick a half-price cocktail! Definitely try their French 76 out especially on Saturdays!

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The beet salad!

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Their fried shrimp things, these were ok.

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The famous truffle mac’n’cheese.

Sunday and the Fun Day

We got two free Cycle Bar classes so I figured I’d do back-to-back days of classes since I was doing so much eating this weekend. Let me tell ya, Offline Premium perks really bring us together. I managed to be cycling next to two local food bloggers and we ended up becoming friends and grabbing brunch after. You should definitely check them out here at Triangle Drinks and Discovering Raleigh.

We had all been wanting to check out Hummingbird for awhile now, so we decided to head there for brunch. They had the cutest neon pink sign and I think I need one. They had these funky colored lights as well that in theory sound weird, but in execution they totally work! What do you think?

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The food was picture perfect and delicious to boot. You should definitely check out Hummingbird Raleigh when you get the chance! It’s worth a taste…

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This bar though. Adorbs! I love the funky yellow stools and the overall funky vibe of this place. I will say, it is a little bit small on the inside, but on a nice day they have a great little patio.

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We rounded out our weekend with dinner at Bonefish (left, below). We seemed to be doing a lot in the North Hills neighborhood this weekend. This restaurant is a chain and although I try not to eat at chains very often because I like to support local businesses, my friend had a buy-one-get-one entree coupon and I love a good bargain. I can’t believe I had never been here before though!

I had way too much delicious food this day and this weekend in general. My friend Rebekah who is launching her own food blog (woo!) has been testing all her too good to be healthy recipes on me and my waistline is not a fan, but my tummy is! She made me the desserts in the bottom right, salted caramel buckeyes and chocolate raspberry cupcakes. I could have died and went to heaven right after I finished up all those buckeyes…

Please go and check out her blog Beck Eats World, she makes the best food I promise! She’s been forcing me to eat all her delicious foods, it’s a blessing and a curse being her best friend!

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Well, I hope you enjoyed tagging along on one of my weekend adventures. What do you like to do on weekends? What did you do this weekend?

My First Year in Raleigh

January was a very special month, it marked the anniversary of me picking up my whole life, taking a big leap of faith and moving to Raleigh, NC from my home of Ann Arbor, MI. I can’t believe it’s already been a year, the time really has flow by when you’re having the time of your life! I thought it might be fun today to write and reflect on my first year in Raleigh with y’all.

The Decision to Move

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I’ve talked in more detail about how I came to this decision here. I will just summarize a bit and reflect, so not to be redundant.

This was a huge decision for me and one that caused me a lot of anxiety. Not a lot of people from where I grew up just pick up and move, let alone without a job. My friends were very supportive of course, but that’s what they do. My parents were less so… To be fair, they grew up in a different time. A time of middle class prosperity and job abundance. Things were different for them and they were raised differently, so I don’t hold this against them. They were just worried about me and probably wanting me to stick around.

I think the lack of faith pushed me even more towards making this move successful. This was the scariest thing I’ve ever done and I needed all the motivation I could get. The biggest lessons I learned from this move is to not let people scare you off from what feels right to you. Only you know what is best for you. The things that scare you the most those are the things you should be doing.

The Moving Process

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The moving process wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. That drive though, it was a long and horrible nightmare. Mostly because I hate driving and especially for a long time in a big Ford F-150 with two people total and a dog cramped up together. It was a 10.5 hour drive down to Raleigh in the truck and let me tell you, I couldn’t wait to get out of that truck.

As for what I brought with me, you can find that in a separate upcoming post. Plot twist, it was only what I could fit in the back of an F-150. I struggled with a few life hiccups shortly after the move, but I luckily met some really awesome people that took me under their wing and helped me along the way. Southern hospitality ain’t no joke.

Uprooting your whole life to a whole new city where you know no one is definitely hard don’t get me wrong, but it’s also liberating. You get to create a whole new life from scratch and curate it to the life you really want and meet fabulous new people who will teach you new things.

Finding the Right Career Fit

My last name was edited out of the name plate in order to protect myself and my identity

My last name was edited out of the name plate in order to protect myself and my identity

I really took my time in this area because my last job made me sorta miserable and I really wanted to avoid that. I also really wanted to take my time to find the right fit for me and figure out what I really wanted out of my next job. I think it took me around 5-6 months to find my current job, but keep in mind I wasn’t actively looking the whole time.

When you have to spend 40+ hours doing anything, you want to make sure it’s something that will not only make you happy, but make you enough money to cover your expenses and leave enough for fun and saving/investing. It is hard to tell from the interview process if a job will be the right fit. Do your due diligence and ask questions of them just like they are asking you! Interviews should be two-sided almost like a date. You both want to make sure it’s a good fit and that you will both be happy working together. However, when you do find the right fit, make sure to negotiate! Know your worth! Even if you are happy with the salary, you should still negotiate! You can always negotiate other things like vacation days, work flexibility options, etc. If you do not negotiate, you leave money on the table and it will impact your income potential throughout your career.

Rebuilding a Life

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For me, the fact that I was moving to a new city where I knew no one actually wasn’t the scariest part for me. That was probably one of the most exciting parts of it all. I love meeting new people especially people who have a different culture and life experiences than me. I’ve loved learning about southern culture and customs over the past year and see how differently other Americans live. This has me genuinely appreciating how different all Americans are and yet we still remain one nation. As divided as our nation is right now (don’t worry I’m not going to bore you or making things politically polarizing here), it has genuinely excited to me to connect with people who are different than me and find common ground. I think we could all do with a little more connection with and grace for our fellow Americans.

If making friends is something you are worried about for your move or just in your current life, make sure to check out my post on making new friends here. I’ve had some great feedback on that post and it’s one of my most popular. I love hearing from my readers and what they’ve found most helpful and/or any suggestions they may have, so please comment and let me know!

Reflections

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Overall, I am very happy here in Raleigh and happy with things turned out. I’ve really created a whole new life for myself down here. I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel here. About 6 months up until a year before I moved, I had really bad anxiety for seemingly no reason. It was so bad it was causing some health issues that I couldn’t figure out what was causing them. Well very shortly after I moved here those health issues and anxiety stopped.

Would I do a few things differently? Maybe, but maybe not. It was all a learning experience and I am a stronger and better person for it. Most of all, I was able to prove to myself I can do anything and it gave me a crazy amount of confidence in myself and my abilities. I am so happy that I took a chance on myself and did something for me instead of letting the fear I had and others’ fear stop me.

Thanks so much for following along on my journey for the last year. It’s been a real adventure and I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone, but the whole internet and you dear readers. I hope you’ve had as much fun reading as I have sharing with you. Let me know in the comments how long you’ve been tagging along and where you’re from/currently living, let’s connect!

Christmas in Washington D.C.

Since I was just back home to Michigan for Thanksgiving, and I had a week and a half off work, I decided to visit my cousin in D.C. for a little while. My cousin and I have been reconnecting now that I’ve been closer to D.C. My cousin lives a little under an hour outside of downtown D.C. and only a little under four hour drive away from Raleigh.

Fitz and I were geared up and ready for the trip! Especially Fitz who is always down for a sweater and some festive garb.

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After arriving we headed into town to grab dinner and drinks and the trees were very festive, which always makes winter slightly tolerable for me. Dinner was good, but the drinks later on were more exciting. We ended up in a bar that was hidden inside a donut shop and you had to pull-on a rope to gain access. I love a good speakeasy vibe.

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National Harbor

We spent a lot of the days just working out in his home gym, hanging out, and running Christmas errands. One of the other nights, we ventured into to the city to grab some dinner and we found a lot of holiday fun!

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Gingerbread house contest! These were amazing and took some real talent! The hours it must have taken!

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National Harbor’s Ferris wheel and Christmas tree were on point and I happened to catch them at a time when they both were matching. Very cohesive and chic! Christmas always has the best opportunists for great photo content, I love it!

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Hope you had yourself a very Merry Alyssa In the City City Christmas! As you can see the Ferris Wheel and Christmas tree changed color! This is my cousin David, by the way, who is named after my dad funny enough!

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Eating my way through the D.C. area! This lunch was scrumptious. I miss this lunch to be honest, I have dreams about it!

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I never was very good at wrapping presents, but my cousin is and I forced him to teach me his ways. I was so proud of my handy work, that I needed a photo of all of my favorite things. Also if you don’t watch the trashiest Christmas movies over the holiday season… are you even living? This photo is featuring Santa Jaws, which is one the trashiest Christmas movies I’ve ever seen, which is exactly why you should watch it. You’re welcome.

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This little snuggle bug was really into this bed and being on vacation! He loves a good sweater, especially a festive one.

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A very Christmas pooch and very well wrapped and chic looking presents!

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This post consists of so much eating and I’m not hating it! I made my cousin my famous bacon and he couldn’t stop talking about it! It’s a sweet and spicy bacon situation!

Recipe:

  1. Coat bacon with - cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, brown sugar, and a little maple syrup if you want. I didn’t this time and it’s still delicious!

  2. Bake or pan fry to your desired level of crispiness

Thank me later. Let me know if you try out the recipe!

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I talked my cousin’s daughter into making gingerbread cookies with me and decorating them. Here I am explaining the intricacies of cookie decorating, which I am clearly very good at and passionate about! Unfortunately, she’s more of a chocolate chip cookie kind of girl… man, kids these days.

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Another trip into the city for one of my last days of the trip and we made it into the city one more time to grab lunch and take his daughter ice skating. We ended up grabbing lunch on the pier and it was absolutely gorgeous out!

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Look at that perfect duck dive right there!

I ended up getting a burger that was so big that my cousin bet me that I couldn’t finish it… and he was not wrong! But I sure enjoyed myself regardless!

By the way, I live for a good turtleneck. They are my winter obsession this year. If you don’t have one, you need to RUN out and get one right now. Seriously, you’ll thank me when you’re looking chic yet warm, a constant battle we women face in the winter!

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On the last day, we went to the mall and then grabbed dinner at the local restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any food pics because I was starved. However, we went here twice over the trip, so I think it’s safe to say that if you’re ever in the area, it’s worth a try!

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Last Day

Had to get my workout in before packing Fitz and I up to make the drive back home. My baby boy thinks he is just a big baby, so momma treats him like one. If you have a dood, you have a picture like this. It’s a fact of the dood life, there is no getting around it. Keep in mind, this dog is 70 lbs, so this was part of my workout for the day!

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I hope you all had a lovely holiday season! What did y’all do for the holidays? Let’s get chatty!

Back Home for Thanksgiving

After 10 months away in Raleigh, NC, I finally made it back home to Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I spent about five days back in Michigan because I have a lot of friends and family in Michigan and I wanted to make sure I got to spend time with as many people as I could.

One of the first social activities I did was get together with my old friend from the Ann Arbor Junior League and her daughter (whom I used to babysit from time to time for date nights, etc.) Michelle and her daughter Sophia were very eager to make plans with me and were almost first on my list after my immediate family of course. We decided to meet for pizza at a Michigan classic, Buddy’s. Michelle and Sophia are big travelers so they had lots of stories to share with me and Sophia is lovely and funny as always.

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Michelle was very surprised I could pick up Sophia, but it’s all that weightlifting I’ve been doing the last year or so!

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Thanksgiving is the best and you can’t change my mind!

My parents always host Thanksgiving even if it’s just us, but they do usually invite my dad’s brother and my mom’s sister (and her family) at the very least. This year we had both of them minus my aunt’s family. My aunt is super fun, she’s probably one of my favorites. Actually, both of them are probably my favorites. They are super funny in very different ways. It’s always so interesting and weird for me to see my mom with her and hear the stories of her when she was young.

I’m not sure how y’all do Thanksgiving, but I’ve heard how we do it isn’t the norm. We have Thanksgiving at noon, or at least we try to have it all done by noon. I think this year we actually ended up eating around 1/1:30, but still pretty close. What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Mine is green bean casserole, HANDS DOWN! Unfortunately, the woman who created the recipe passed away sometime in 2018, may she rest in peace… I’m low-key upset I only just heard about her when she passed, she’s a national hero in my opinion! Long live the green bean casserole!

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Ignore the tacky tablecloth, but it’s tradition! Everything was so delicious. Thanks Mom and Dad for making everything, you are the real MVPs!

My friend Amer and I met playing in a pickup volleyball league and instantly became friends. We still keep in touch over Snapchat, FB, and text. Luckily I was staying in town long enough to catch him as he was coming back from his Australia vacation. I sure do have a lot of friends who love to travel!

Well since this holiday is all about eating, I knew I had to get some kind of physical activity in. Upon mentioning wanting to do something physical together, Amer instantly suggested indoor rock climbing, and I quickly agreed. This wasn’t my first time partaking in indoor climbing, but it had been a little over a year since I had done it. The last time I think was when I was still living back in Michigan!

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Once I was all set with shoes, we decided to do free climbing (without a rope and harness) instead of belaying (which is when your partner holds the rope while the other person is climbing). I chose free climbing because that is what my old work buddies and I used to do most frequently. I also wasn’t super confident in my belaying skills since I hadn’t done it in a long time, and I didn’t want to be the cause of him falling!

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Here is a super cute* action shot of me trying not to laugh while simultaneously trying really hard not to fall. I will have you know that I am afraid of heights, so I hope the fact that I am doing this anyway inspires you to do the things that scare you. I made it to the top and that is all that matters!

* = heavy sarcasm

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After climbing, we decided to warm up and grab some hot cocoa at this cute little macaron bakery called Le Bon. The name sounded so familiar and when I got there I realized that it was a new location for the macaron bakery that I used to love in my college/post grad home! I don’t remember what flavored macarons we got, but I do remember both the macarons and the sipping chocolates were DELISH!

Downtown Detroit

I have a few friends that have since moved to Detroit, which is only about 45 minutes from my parents. I made the trek out that way to see two of my friends. One of them being my former work wife at my last job before moving and another friend from my political work days back in Lansing, MI.

cmIV My work wife Jen (we went to Portugal together read about that here) and I decided to meet up for ramen for dinner. I sure do love Ramen. This ramen shop was a very small location, you have to wait outside to get in, it’s that small. Once in there, we both get the most popular ramen and we both request more spice because it wasn’t all that flavorful in my opinion. However, it was really good to catch up with Jen and hear about all her fancy lawyer life now.

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Afterwards, I met up with my friend from my former political life for a craft beer or two across the street at a local brewery. Good to catch up on life and what we’re up to now. Reminiscing about the old times and had a lot of fun chatting about all the political drama always going on in today’s climate.

Outlet Mall/Aquarium??

My mom and I decided to head to this big outlet mall for the day and apparently they now have an aquarium(!!??)…not complaining though because I love aquariums! They inspire a sense of wonder and calm in me that I haven’t experienced with anything else. There were a lot more photos, but this guy was my favorite. I just love the little faces under the stingrays!

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A Little Unofficial High School Reunion Debauchery

A year ago, quite a few of us from my graduating class got together spontaneously and it was so much fun that I figured we should do it again over the holiday when everyone was home. We made plans to meet up at a restaurant/bar in our town one of the nights. I actually almost didn’t end up going because I had a pretty bad headache and was really tired. After finally building up the strength to get ready and popping some Advil, I met up with everyone and I was so glad I did.

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It instantly felt like old times and like no time had passed, but also we all felt a little old ha! I was laughing all night and reminiscing on all the old times and catching up on everyone’s life. It truly was so much fun. I’ve been friends with these two for suuucch a long time and I’m so glad I got to see them!

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I will admit I did not remember the boy below, but I figured out it was because he was a year younger. As you can see though, we were fast friends. He even requested my Spotify playlist the following week.

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My Babies and Snow!

This is my cat Lacey, she was my first baby. She’s 5 going on 6 now. She lived with me up until I moved to Raleigh. Before I get a bunch of haters, she was staying with my parents due to a former temporary roomie being allergic) and they love her so much and don’t want to give her back to me. She totally looks like me though, no? Just me? Ok cool cool cool.

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This cat below has many names, but she is my parents’ cat and ACTUALLY fun fact, my cat’s mother! I think my dad named her Razzle or something, but I never call her that, I call her Momma. Momma and Lacey are BFF, which is another reason why my parents don’t wanna give her back.

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Since my dog, Fitz, is a giant, 70 something lbs last time I checked, he couldn’t come home with me and my parents were very sad about this. However, my BFF Cayla aka my Fitz’s co-parent, watches him whenever I’m out of town. She constantly sent me the cutest pics because I missed him so much. He’s a perfect angel I tell you!

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Snow!

It snowed on my last day in Michigan, but luckily I had nowhere to go that day.

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Thanks so much for following along on my trip back to the Mitten for the first time since moving down south. Let me know if you like these posts!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Do you have any crazy or cool Thanksgiving traditions? What did you do for the holidays? I’d love to hear!

Moving Prep: Considerations to Make if Moving with Pets

I don’t know about you, but I consider my pets to be my children. I know parents of human children scoff at this, but it’s on the same level of commitment in my opinion as having a child and they don’t talk back, well most of the time anyway…

When moving, I had to make extra considerations because of my pets. I’m here today to talk you through what I did and considered in regards to moving with pets because I know other pet parents can agree that we want them to be safe, comfortable, and as stress-free as possible during the transition.

Depending on the size and number of pets you have there will be some limitations on the options you will have for how you conduct your move. 

Over 20-25 lbs

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If your pet is generally larger than I'd say 20-25 lbs. then in my opinion, you are going to have to rule out transporting by air. I know you can "check" your pet, but I have heard too many horror stories lately with airlines and especially regarding their handling of pets. There is also data supporting that it is a rather dangerous risk for your pets not surviving the trip read about that here, but feel free to do your own research. However, if your pet is under that weight limit then you are allowed to travel with them in the cabin as one of you carry-ons, and they can be stored under your seat. Please do not let them tell you to store your pet in the overhead compartment like United airlines did to one family (read about that here). Just like in the luggage storage area, the overhead compartment doesn't have the same pressurized airflow that the cabin does, so it can be very dangerous for your pet.

If you pet is heavier 20-25 lbs, then I would recommend transporting them either with you in the moving vehicle of your choice or your car. 

Below 20-25 lbs

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Pets below the 20-25 lbs weight limit, are able to be taken on planes and trains so you have more convenient options. You will need a sturdy carrier that can fit under an airline seat when travelling with a pet. Just to reiterate, I’m not an expert on pet travel and the rules may change at any point and they vary from airline to airline, so always be sure to do your own research with your airline and other options before you go. 

When searching for a place to live, please make sure that your living situation allows for pets and if you have roommates that they are aware and okay with having pets around.

Pet Anxiety/Stress

If your pet is anxious and easily stressed, I highly recommend talking to your vet. They may have some suggestions on how to best handle this and will know your pet’s needs the best.

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Making the move with your pet is possible and stress-free if you plan far enough ahead. I hope these tips have helped you feel a little bit better about your moving preparations with your furry loved one. As always, let me know if you have any questions or have any future post requests.

Sunday Adventures: Rainbow bagels, city views and bookstores

Sundays are my favorite, there's just something about them. I know most people dislike Sunday because it means their week is starting and that means going back to work. Even with that, I still adore Sundays. I feel like Sundays are reserved for doing only whatever you want to for the whole day. Not many people want your time and attention on Sunday and if they do, they respect whatever reason you may have for saying no, which on other days, isn't always the case. I had a pretty fun Sunday recently, and I wanted to walk you through some of the fun things I got into.

First things first, a new bagel shop opened up downtown and I had been dying to try it because I heard they had rainbow bagels! I had heard of rainbow bagels a few years ago, but that was in New York where food trends usually start. I hadn't seen them anywhere else until now, so you can imagine how excited I was. 

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As you can see, it is the cutest thing ever and could brighten up nearly anyone's morning! When I was reading the menu, I couldn't find them on there so I was really bummed, but they do have them! You just have to look behind the counter in the baskets and you'll see them! 

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I was clearly very excited about the bagel as you can see! The verdict: They were so good! I mean it was just a plain bagel with cream cheese, but still! They use food coloring on the dough and just twist the different colors together, but never has a plain bagel ever made me so happy, so I'll call it a win. Plus it wasn't that expensive, like $2-3 with cream cheese. You can find them at NY Bagel on Glenwood in downtown Raleigh! 

Next up, my friend took me to a spot that had some amazing city views and I got some great pictures to share with y'all. 

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Lastly, we had both wanted to check out a bookstore near me that my friend said was really good. He did not lead me astray, the bookstore was magical. I had not been to a bookstore in quite awhile, but one thing my mom did with me often was take me to the bookstore and library and let me pick out my own books. I used to love going with her and I loved reading. One summer, in sixth grade I believe, I read 100 books!

The bookstore we went to was Quail Ridge Books in the North Hills neighborhood of Raleigh. They had a beautiful entryway to the Kid's section that I didn't get a picture of, unfortunately, but I did get some pretty good photos from the bookstore that I will share with you now. 

I ended up getting two books and a poster of text from my favorite book Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice that I need to get framed and hang up. I will post the books and the synopses for y'all in case any of you are readers as well! These books will go nicely with my New Years Resolution to read 12 books this year, as you guys may remember. I have read 3.5 books so far! 

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Thanks for following me along on my Sunday adventures, I hope you enjoyed it! Please let me know if you like these kinds of posts or you have anything you'd like me to try and/or write about! 

1. How are your New Years Resolutions going?
2. What do you like to do on Sundays?
3. I would always love some book suggestions!