The Next Chapter Pt 3: Life in Chapel Hill

I feel like the whole moving story deserved at least one more post that lets me tell you a bit about the area I now call home.

The weekend that Erik’s parents were with us (my parents stayed until Tuesday), his Dad took it upon himself to show us some of the sites.  That started Saturday morning with a trip to Franklin Street.  Franklin street is the main drag for Chapel Hill.  It’s covered in cute shops, bars all over, and it’s a foodie’s dream.  There’s everything there.  You can find chains like Chipotle and Noodles and Company, as well as delicious sweet treats including several frozen yogurt shops (Sweet Frog seems to be the main chain around here) and Krispie Kreme Doughnuts (they took ours back home away), and little shops and bars all over this street.  There is this bakery/ice cream parlor that Erik and I walked by one night when we were out for a stroll that has cupcakes (my favorite!) and gelato, but what’s unique about this place is they make adult gelato treats.  You can get vodka and other liquor based gelato creations served in a martini glass right along with your cupcake.  We haven’t gone there yet, but you better believe we will!

Anyway, Saturday morning:  We were taken to Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe on Franklin Street.  It’s this narrow little place (much like most of the shops along Franklin) with the best breakfast food ever.  We walked in and god smacked in the face with the scent of syrup, bacon, and sweet, sweet pancake and waffle batter.  I was in Heaven and we weren’t even seated yet.  We managed to get countertop seating, which was awesome because we got to sit and watch the pro breakfast cooks work their magic.  I had a cinnamon apple waffle with bacon and Egg Beaters and sugar free syrup (while enjoying a food I still I have to feel like I made at least one Weight Watchers conscious decision..) and it was lovely.  I feel compelled to go back and try their signature M&M pancakes.  Just the sound of those words makes my taste buds giddy.  After an amazing breakfast with super friendly service we were ready to face our day of unpacking.

(My parents, Erik, and I enjoying breakfast at Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe.  His parents are behind the camera)

As we were walking up Franklin St I noticed that everyone, and I mean everyone had something Tar Heels related on (UNC mascot).  I have never lived in a University town before, so I never realized how much of a “thing” showing your university’s colors was.  I knew that Erik and I had to hop on the Tar Heels bandwagon when I saw this little old man walking down the street in a Tar Heels baseball cap.  I expressed my desire to get “in” with the Chapel Hill way of life, and Erik’s mom wasted no time leading us a few stores down to “The Shrunken Head” which is one of the best known shops for all things Tar Heel (although I later learn that Kohls, Walmart, Target and basically anywhere I go will have Tar Heels gear for purchase).  After some browsing and trying things on I managed to walk out of there with a cute long sleeved shirt (thanks to the clearance rack), some super soft sweatpants and a windbreaker jacket with hood, thanks to my parents, and an amazingly cute hoodie thanks to Erik’s parents.  As we were talking to the store owners (it’s been a family owned business for years) they learned of our move and our engagement so as a little housewarming gift they threw in these big plastic cups, one in Tar Heels blue and a pink one for me.  I was now satisfied with owning some Tar Heels gear.  I was officially a Chapel Hill resident, and now I could look the part 🙂

(In the Shrunken Head, me sporting my new sweatshirt, and Erik being a real man and not being afraid to hold my purse;-)  )

Saturday night the group of us (Erik and I plus all parents) went out to an epic dinner at the Carolina Inn.  Built in 1924 by a UNC alum, this place is actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  When you walk in you can just stand in awe at it’s elegance.  It’s very classy with an eclectic collection of furniture making the visual experience truly unique.  There are long halls and many rooms, and that’s just on the main floor.  Never mind the fact that somewhere there are actual hotel rooms that probably cost several hundred dollars a night to stay in.   We walked into the dining room which was very quiet and had brightly colored upholstery on the chairs. The menu reminded me of something you would see on a cruise ship; there weren’t a whole lot of choices, but each choice was unique and decadent.  We started with some bread (as always) and they brought us a cold beet soup in a little cylindrical glass, meant to be sipped.  It was an interesting flavor which I happily tried a few sips of before my tummy decided it wasn’t for me.  That’s fine, onto the main course: steak.  We are talking enough steak for 3 meals for me sitting on top of delicious mashed potatoes.  I ate the top piece, and ended up taking the bigger piece home along with the leftovers from a parent who had the same thing.  Then we looked at the dessert menu… Oh. my. goodness!   We each ordered something different: peanut butter/pretzel/chocolate mousse pie, berry cobbler, pecan bread pudding, chai creme brûlée, and for me: red velvet mousse cake.  We all played pass the plate, as we wanted to get our hands on all of dessert awesomeness spread out in front of us.  The meal was amazing, we were all in good company, Saturday was a success.

(My steak and red velvet dessert)

Erik’s parents left on Sunday.  The adventure of unpacking continued with target runs and working through things box by box.  I met up with my parents one morning at a local cafe called Cafe Carolina.  They have great french toast, yummy sandwiches (Erik and I learned that later) and yummy baked goods, including Tar Heel colored cupcakes.  I would expect nothing less from a Chapel Hill eatery 🙂

(The Cafe Carolina Cupcakes)

My last adventure with my mom was to David’s Bridal, seeing how on top of everything I have a wedding to plan.  We figured we should at least start looking for a dress, as I had no idea what I wanted.  Looking at them all hanging there was totally overwhelming, so I decided maybe I should just try some on for fun.  5 dresses and one awesome consultant later, I actually bought my wedding dress.  Say What?!?!?  Yup!  Done and done!  Obviously no pictures or details will be posted until Erik has seen me.  It was an awesome impromptu adventure.

Since our parents left Erik and I have discovered other places as well.  The first MBA event took place at a bar called “Top of the Hill” where the main area is actually 3 floors up at the top of the building and you can look out over Franklin street.  It’s another local landmark.   I also was taken over to the business school one day for a BBQ and Erik gave me the grand tour of the place he will be spending so much of his time.  I found several local Weight Watchers stores and all of the stores I’m used to having access to back in Illinois.  There is even a really decent mall only 15 minutes away, compete with a Sephora and with an Ulta across the street. Win! Erik and I have spent Saturdays registering for our wedding at Bed Bath and Beyond and Macys, so we got to explore the mall together.  We really know how to spend an entire day out shopping..  I also have a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods right by the music school I am teaching at, which is great, except I don’t have the money to shop there.  Still, it’s nice to know they’re around as well.

It has been and continues to be quite an adventure discovering places around my new home.  I know there have been more places we’ve explored over the last month or so, but I don’t need this post to go on forever.  Chapel Hill is a nice place full of kind people.  I keep hearing I am going to love the winters since I’m from Chicagoland, so I am actually looking forward (at least a little bit) to winter this year.

There’s still a lot to work on and a lot of things to accomplish and the craziness of the fall season has yet to start for either of us, but getting the chance to settle in over the summer was a great choice.  Life is good 🙂

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