Daily Life, Food, Reviews, Society, Sustainability

Sola Coffee Cafe: Raleigh, North Carolina

I don’t normally do this (and I don’t plan to make a habit of doing this) but I wanted to talk a little bit about a restaurant I ate at recently…

Sola Coffee Cafe Entrance

I took a trip to North Carolina the week before Christmas and, at the suggestion of my mom (who is a frequent guest there), had breakfast at a quaint little place in North Raleigh called Sola Coffee Cafe. When I started It’s An Ordinary Blog, I never intended to write any restaurant reviews (it’s just not the kind of blog that this is) but there’s something about Sola that I really loved and so I thought it was worth sharing.

I lived in Raleigh up until I went away to college and haven’t been back for longer than a week or so in almost eight years. It seems like every time I do go back for a trip, the area has completely changed. The building that Sola now occupies was a bank, and then it was a childcare facility, and then it was something else, but now it’s something truly amazing: a coffee-house that has a focus on sustainability.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ve probably picked up on the fact that sustainability matters to me. It matters a lot and so when I heard that Sola offers fresh, local, seasonally appropriate sandwiches and salads from sustainable farmers, I was pretty excited to give them my business. Not only that but the atmosphere is ridiculously awesome. It’s comfortable, intimate, and a space that you really feel good in. I took a bunch of pictures (and uploaded them to Instagram if you’re wondering why they look “different”) that are posted below so you can get a feel for what this place is like.

We were there for breakfast and so I ordered their oatmeal with raisins, sliced almonds, and brown sugar and a mocha coffee. My mom ordered a coffee and a thing of their mini-donuts which are made on site. My oatmeal was great, the coffee hit the spot, and the mini-donuts (she let me try one) were warm and delicious…and I’m not even a donut person. I would be really interested to try one of their lunch items…so I definitely plan to go back next time I’m in Raleigh.

I learned while I was there that they have live music in the evenings and a small, private room that you can reserve while you’re there. It’s definitely a place that you can meet up with some friends and hang out at and it’s definitely a place that I recommend. Aside from their focus on sustainability, I really appreciated the decor in the restaurant. Apparently the decorator is a friend of my moms…I wonder if she wouldn’t mind coming to Kansas City to work on my house. 😉

Sola Coffee Cafe Oatmeal and Coffee

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor Bike

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor Fresh Global Social

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor Our Global Local Friends

Sola Coffee Cafe Menu

Sola Coffee Cafe Decor

If you happen to live (or visit) Raleigh, spread the word…it’s worth a visit. Oh, and you can also find them on Facebook.

Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Reviews

Birthday Goodies (You Don’t Want to Miss This Post)!

I’m celebrating my birthday this week (yay!) and so I wanted to share a little gift with you. Businesses want your money but they also appreciate their loyal customers and want to help make our special days a little more exciting. I wanted to spend some time today talking about some of the birthday rewards you can sign up for from your (okay, my) favorite companies. If you find something that interests you, just click on their company name and the link and should take you directly to their sign up page (you’re welcome). These are in no particular order, I don’t play favorites when it comes to freebies. *Please excuse the quality of my photos, many of them were taken with my camera phone.

Bristol Seafood Grill

I absolutely love eating at Bristol and it’s become somewhat of an annual tradition for my grandmother and I to enjoy a birthday lunch together there every December. They are so generous with their birthday gifts to customers. Each year, they send a complimentary meal (valued up to $25) in the mail to use at any point during your birth month. In addition, they bring you a birthday dessert while you’re there. There are absolutely no strings attached, and their food is delicious. Here’s what I enjoyed:

Bristol Seafood GrillAlaskan salmon with a side of asparagus and a side of their lobster mac n’ cheese (which is a must have when you go to Bristol).

Bristol Seafood DessertChocolate lava cake with hazelnut ice cream and raspberries.

Vera Bradley

I will always remember the first time I was introduced to Vera Bradley. It was love at first sight and so every once in a while I like to order something cute for myself. I had no idea when I signed up for an account (I was placing an order at the time) that I would receive a $20 card in the mail every year on my birthday. We’re lucky in that we have a store within driving distance from where I live and so I always look forward to going and looking around. Here’s what I got this year:

Vera Bradley Lunch Bag

Dunkin Donuts

Until recently, the closest D&D to us was about 45 minutes away (which also happened to be right by my office, of course). A few months ago, that changed and they opened up about a mile and a half away. I’d like to think it was all those morning coffees I was getting on my way into work but I guess we’ll never really know, will we?! 😉 One of the benefits to being a “perks” member (which really just means you’re signed up to receive emails from them) is that you get a free medium-sized beverage just for signing up and then another one on your birthday. I would post a picture, but I haven’t used mine yet. They sent me an email the week before my birthday saying they sent out a coupon for my complimentary beverage. You better believe I’ll use that just as soon as I get my hands on it.

Helzberg Diamonds

This one is a little bit different. I’m not sure if you have to BUY something to be enrolled in their program or if creating an account is enough (their site indicates that you get a free gift just for ‘joining’) but I love Helzberg. Every year for Valentines Day, our anniversary, and my birthday they send me a card for a free pair of pearl earings. They’re never the same two pair, either, which is nice. Here are the ones I got for my birthday this year:

Helzberg Diamonds

Baskin Robbins

Who doesn’t love ice cream?! Baskin Robbins has a “birthday club” which is free to sign up for. Members receive a complimentary scoop of ice cream during their birthday month. I’m planning to use mine this weekend.


Starbucks has a rewards program that’s pretty nice if you are a regular. For every 12 drinks you purchase, you get one free. You also get a complimentary beverage of your choice (no restrictions on size) during your birthday month. The only stipulation is that you have to maintain your Gold membership level in order to receive it.


I love breakfast. Free breakfast is even better. Thanks to IHop’s “Pancake Revolution” club, I got a complimentary meal this year as a birthday gift from them. It expires on the 24th so I’m planning to use it over the weekend.

Cold Stone Creamery

I will admit that I don’t usually use my Cold Stone birthday reward because I can never drag the husband out to get ice cream there. They send out (which I think is nice) a buy one get one free coupon for birthdays.

Red Robin

I’m not afraid to admit that I really love Red Robin. It’s a family friendly place that the husband and I can feel comfortable bringing C to and on Monday evenings in our area kids eat free. I joined their paperless rewards program (they look it up by my phone number) and am really surprised at how generous they are. Not only do you get a free meal every year during your birth month but they also give you free stuff (the last two times I’ve gone in I’ve gotten a free shake). It’s worth registering for, even if you don’t eat there very often.

Red Robin Birthday Dinner

I always get the Whiskey River BBQ burger…every time, without fail.

There are so many other places that offer free rewards and birthday incentives that I did not include.

Feel free to leave a comment with any other programs you might be signed up for.