Dine, Play

Happy Birthday ‘merica!

I hope you all had a fun and safe 4th of July! Special shoutout to my parents – Happy Anniversary!!

Since the weather was iffy on Friday and Saturday, we had to come up with alternative plans. On Friday, I had made a six layer Mexican dip, started the process of BBQ pulled pork and tried out a Sangria recipe I found on Pinterest. I had wanted to check out “Main Street Fridays” in downtown Greenville, but it was canceled due to the weather. We ended up going to Dave & Buster’s for a bit. It was super packed so we decided to just grab a couple of drinks and an appetizer at the bar.

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Red, white and blue.

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Then pineapple joined the party.

I taught two classes on Saturday morning and then came home to finish cooking the feast…mac and cheese time. Real healthy foods to celebrate America. ūüôā We were up in the air about what to do and finally decided to head to Atlanta for the Braves game.

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Tailgating like a real class act.

We walked around a bit before heading into the game. I like to turn everything into a history lesson. ¬†I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I love being at any sporting event. I also love thinking about the people that put their heart and soul into doing what they love. Knowing that this is their passion and how much hard work goes into it each and every day is really inspiring.

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“My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.” – Hank Aaron

IMG_4466While we were standing in line to go in two fighter jets flew over just as the National Anthem was finishing up. Total chills. Never gets old. Once we got inside we headed to the Team Store and then made our way to our seats. Just two lil angels in the outfield…

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As a kid, my parents and two of their close friends used to make fun of (and still to this day) the way I used to say cotton candy. Think CON-TON CUN-DEE. I made sure to snap a pic and send it to them all.

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No, I didn’t get any.

We decided to go for a walk and check out the views from other areas in Turner Field since it was the first time that either one of us had been there.

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IMG_4455We made it back to our seats for the end of the game and the fireworks. Right as the fireworks began it started to rain. Since we had no plans afterwards we figured we might as well brave the rain and stay despite the rain.

“Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.” – Albert Camus

What did you do yesterday? Do you have any traditions? Favorite recipes that you make each year? Please share!

Dine, Play

Hey, Paciugo!

Happy (very belated) Father’s Day! I can’t imagine that there are many dads that read this, but hey if you’re out there here is your special shout out!  I saw this on Father’s Day and absolutely loved it…

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” – Umberto Eco

So true, right?

I always have great intentions to make my lunch the night before or make it in the morning before heading to work, but more often times than not, that just doesn’t happen. There’s not a ton of options within walking distance to the office, so I often find myself at the same ole places. Someone mentioned “Cafe Around the Corner” to me the other day…and let’s just say I fell in love.

The owner puts her heart and soul into the little cafe and uses high quality ingredients. So far, I’ve had four different sandwiches (different sides each time), a salad, a mini cupcake, black cherry mango cream sorbet and raw goat milks ice cream. Not all in one visit, relax.

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Goat’s milk ice cream with cacao nibs, organic coconut flakes and hemp seeds.

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Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. Oh yeah, it’s vegan and gluten free.

Last Friday I flew out to Dallas so I could lead a training the next day. I had a late lunch / early dinner (is there a word for that?) at a place called Taco Diner. The two salsas were so delicious. Brisket tacos and a mango margarita surely didn’t disappoint either.

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Feast for one.

After stuffing my face, I went to check in at my hotel, get some more work done and then rushed back over to the same area to take class at Pure Barre Dallas.  After taking class, I wasn’t starving (surprisingly) since I had ate at such an odd time so opted for some gelato. Real adult like rationale right?  The place was called Paciugo.  What’s paciugo mean?

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Sounds perfect, right?

All I could think about was the song Hey, Pachuco from the movie, The Mask. No? Just me? Oh, ok.

After a long day of training, I went back to the hotel to shower and take a breather.  For dinner, I ended up across the street from Taco Diner at a placed called Mi Cocina. I just couldn’t get enough. Figured it was only right to compare the mango margaritas.  I couldn’t decide which was better.

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Friday vs. Saturday.

My flight was really early on Sunday morning so no partying for this girl.  I made it back to Greenville (and home) by 11am so I still had the whole day ahead of me.  I headed to the pool for a few hours. It was actually really nice out and not humid.  After getting my bronze on, I went to Lake Conestee Nature Park to go exploring / running.  I saw an Instagram pic a while back of Conestee Mill and wanted to see it for myself. Here it is:

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There was a HUGE turtle on a rock, but couldn’t get a good pic of it. Boo.

Once my man got back in town we decided to go get pizza down the street.

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Ham & Pepperoni. Chicken, pesto & sundried tomatoes. Sangria.

Monday morning hit a little hard. I actually drank a Red Bull. Yep, you read that right. ūüėČ The weather was great on Monday so we decided to go check out a Greenville Drive game.  It was double header, but we could only make it in time for the second game. No complaints here.  I love going to sporting events, but can have a short attention span from time to time. With a view like this I surely was completely content.
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Take me out to the ball game.

IMG_4405…and as the sun started to go down.

I’m off work on Friday and plan on taking off Monday.  Other than teaching Friday and Saturday morning, I have no set plans.  This is the first weekend that my boyfriend and I will both be in town since we have moved. Well, *might* be in town. Going to decide on that tomorrow.

What are you doing for 4th of July? Any favorite places in the Upstate area that we NEED to check out? What about favorite restaurants in Greenville?

Dine, Play

Coast to Coast

Last Sunday, I made sure to take advantage of having just about the entire day off.  I was really excited to have some time to go explore a bit.  I went out to the pool for a little while and quickly got bored so started to look up some things within driving distance that I could go check out.

First stop – Campbell’s Covered Bridge in Gowensville, South Carolina. ¬†Built in 1909, it is now the only covered bridge that remains intact in the state. The ride out there was super pretty and luckily it was easy to find. There was just a handful of people out there. A few kids playing around in the water and a high school senior taking some photographs. Actually, I have no idea if he was a high school senior – I just like to jump to conclusions.

IMG_4229This would be a great place to take Senior photos now that I think of it.

Next up, Poinsett Bridge in Travellers Rest, South Carolina. The bridge was constructed in 1820 and is believed to be the oldest surviving bridge in the state. Historians believe that it was designed by Robert Mills, the architect of the Washington Monument. ¬†Maybe one day, historians can believe that I did something great too. Thanks to¬†technology and government tracking I’m sure there will be very clear records of¬†anything good (or bad) that I do in the future.

IMG_4247The bridge was part of the State Road that connected Charleston and Columbia with the North Carolina mountain communities into Tennessee.

It is a 14 foot Gothic arch stone structure and stretches 130 feet over Little Gap Creek.

Off to my last stop… Definitely saved the best for last. Off to Jones Gap State Park to check out Rainbow Falls. ¬†When I arrived at the park, the ranger at the gate asked if I had ever been there before and what I was looking to do. ¬†I let him know I had not been there before and wanted to go see Rainbow Falls. He let me know where to park, told me to register, bring water with me and pay attention to my watch. He casually said, “Park your car, go about a .5 mile and you will register….then just follow the trail along the water to Rainbow Falls.” Sounds simple, right?

Boy, was I in for a surprise. The trail¬†roundtrip is a¬†little under 5 miles.¬†The total elevation gain is 2,064¬†feet. I clearly did not do my homework. ¬†I saw some photos on Instagram of Rainbow Falls and thought “Oooh, pretty, I want to go.” Luckily, I am in a physical state to be able to haul some serious booty up a mountain. It was kind of cool having NO idea when I would get to the top and see this…
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The picture doesn’t truly capture the 150 foot falls, but hey, you can always go check it out yourself!

Nothing out of the ordinary took place Monday through Thursday and then bright and early Friday morning it was off to California for less than 48 hours. Actually, it was not bright out at all…but, we can pretend.

I flew out of Greenville for the first time, a small and very accessible airport….quick layover in Houston….then off to the beast of an airport that is LAX. ¬†After a 15 minute ride to get my rental car, I stood in line for about 45 minutes. ¬†I’ve never seen a rental car place so busy. Bleh. After getting my lil whip I head to make sure I could find Pure Barre Rossmoor easily (was leading a training there the next day). ¬†By this point, I was starving. Much to my surprise there was an In N Out in the same shopping center. I just HAD to.

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…when in Cali.

Then, jumped in my car, went to check in to my hotel and then headed back to PB to take class. Yes, I took class about an hour after eating In N Out. I actually, felt great. New pre-workout fuel! Kidding.

After class, I went to see the Seal Beach Pier.  I feel compelled to at least SEE the ocean at every chance I get.

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Main Street in Seal Beach runs right into The Pier. Main Street has a handful of cute shops, restaurants and bars.

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California wins with the palm trees. Sorry, South Carolina.

After walking around a bit and taking some pictures, I stopped to have dinner.

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Apparently, I took my fortune cookie a little too literally. Special time somehow translated into opening up the Yelp app and seeing if there were any gelato or ice cream places in the area.

I stumbled upon “Creamistry” and was immediately sold when I read “Made to order Liquid Nitrogren ice cream” and that they had Nutella flavored ice cream.

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They “take pride in using high quality, premium ingredients including all-natural and organic bases, over 40 flavors, and 50 mix-ins/toppings.” First you choose your size or specialty (brownie bowl, concoction, milkshake, etc.) ¬†Then, your base:

And, finally, your “toppings and extras”. I don’t remember the last time I was so overwhelmed. ¬†In order to prevent myself from making an awful decision I figured I would keep it simple….

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Premium base (#fatkid) + Nutella ice cream + Heath pieces = Heaven on Earth

I know this sounds dramatic, but I seriously think it was the best ice cream I have ever had.

After training on Saturday, I couldn’t decide what to get for dinner so I decided to drive around for a bit. ¬†I drove out to Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach and then found myself back in Long Beach in Belmont Shore. Belmont Shore has a super cute street that is full of shops, restaurants and bars. ¬†Most importantly, this is where Creamistry is. Every part of adult bone in my body knows that ice cream is not an option for dinner, BUT what if I NEVER had the chance to have Creamistry again. Plus, my fortune cookie told me to treat myself to a special time this weekend.

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Cookie butter ice cream + Marshmallow Swirl

I heard someone say that a small was enough for two people. HA! Speak for yourself. Yes, clearly, calorie / portion wise I am sure that it might even be more than enough for two people, but there was no way I was wasting any of mine….and there was no one there to share with me. Luckily.

I had another early flight this morning to head back home. ¬†On the plane I was flipping through the Delta magazine and this jumped out at me…

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Just a friendly reminder of why I love my job so much.

I don’t know what my problem was this weekend, but this is what I had for lunch…

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It was their Signature Menu item… I had to.

Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint was the closest restaurant to my gate AND they were playing amazing tunes, so it was a win win.

I need one of these.

While in there, here’s just a few of the songs that I had the pleasure of hearing…

  • Janet Jackson – “Miss You Much”
  • P Diddy – “I Need a Girl”
  • Warren G f/ Nate Dogg – “Regulate”
  • Justin Timberlake – “Summer Love”
  • TLC – “Creep”
  • Chris Brown – “Run It”

Since I was sitting right next to it, I could see all the songs in cue… I was squirming in my seat waiting for…

  • Blackstreet – “No Diggity”
  • Michael Jackson – “The Way You Make Me Feel”
  • Arrested Development – ” Tennessee”
  • LL Cool J – “Going Back to Cali”

and then… A waitress came up and changed it and put on “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy. I don’t know why, but I highly dislike that song and wanted to scream. I quickly got over it, but THE nerve.

I finally arrived back in Greenville. ¬†As I was heading to baggage claim I noticed this…

IMG_4315BOSTON FRIENDS AND FAMILY I hope this makes you happy! I remember reading a while back that the Greenville Drive was affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, but totally forgot.  Guess that means you should come visit me, right?

I hope you all had a wonderful week and even better weekend!  To anyone that has lived, lives or visits Greenville, let me know your favorite things to do!

Dine, Play, Pure Barre, Think - Speak - Inspire

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night

“S A T U R D A Y night
S A T U R D A Y night
S A T U R D A Y night
S A T U R D A Y night

Gonna keep on dancin’ to the rock and roll
On Saturday night, Saturday night
Dancin’ to the rhythm in our heart and soul
On Saturday night, Saturday night
I, I, I, I, I just can’t wait, I, I, I, I got a date”

…Not so much, more like updating y’all and sipping on some Menage a Trois Prosecco (thanks, Julie!) and I wouldn’t have it any other way! ūüėČ

When I was in Houston a few weeks back, I ran into a Walgreens to get some water and noticed a container full of red noses being sold at the checkout counter. I remember seeing some marketing done around the “Red Nose Day” campaign before, but didn’t know what it fully entailed. I always end up donating to the troops when they ask at the airport, or giving a few dollars when they ask at the grocery checkout line so clearly I bought a red nose.

IMG_4159When I smiled, I looked like a crazed clown.

If you’re like me and are not fully sure what Red Nose Day is all about, here’s a little insight…

“Red Nose Day is a campaign dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh. The inaugural Red Nose Day will be held in the US on May 21st, 2015. People across the country will come together to have fun and raise funds and awareness. The day’s events will culminate in a three-hour entertainment TV special on NBC featuring the country’s favorite comedians, musicians and Hollywood stars‚ÄĒit’s a show not to be missed!”

The founders have worked on several TV shows / movies, including “Love Actually” (which, I actually love) and the more I read about “Red Nose Day” and its history, I really liked what I was finding out. I suggest you look into if you’re not familiar with. I had planned on wearing my nose to take class, especially since it’s Pure Barre red, but it was kind of hard to breathe.

Last weekend, I went to Atlanta to lead two different trainings. ¬†We stayed in Buckhead and had a sweet lil view…

IMG_4195“…where the playas play”

A while back, I came across a blog post from Life of Blyss¬†about Pure Barre and we made the connection that we had some mutual friends / acquaintances. I’ve been a reader of blog since and it was awesome to finally meet her at the training I led in Atlanta. ¬†I love being reminded of how as big of a world we live in, it can seem very very small at times. (Hi, Alyssa!) We chatted over a quick lunch and made sure to send some Snaps to our friend Christina. You know, to rub it in her face that we were hanging without her.

I had a travel partNAH on my trip down to ATL. ¬†We got to celebrate National Burger Day, hang with some of Randall’s high school friends and do a little exploring. Have you ever been to Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar? I fell in love. The food was delicious, the drink was perfect and the bartender was exceptional. The only thing I didn’t like was making a decision on what to get. I’m still sad I didn’t have enough room left for a milkshake.

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I kinda look tall!

I’m totally loving these shorts. A friend of mine, Cortney, just started an online boutique – Coco Bleu¬†– and these lil thangs were snagged from there.¬†Check it out!

After Atlanta, it was off to Charlotte for a few hours to go to a friend’s son’s¬†1st birthday party. Yes, a few hours – such road warriors. I’m so out of touch with what the latest toys are, what cartoons are popular and all things toddlers. Bring your babies around me so I can get in touch!

I went out for a late night grocery shopping trip the other night and came back with lots of essentials.  This was by far the most important purchase.

IMG_4194Brownie + Cookie = Brookie =

I took a day off the other day, but have a lot of trouble “powering off” entirely. Sometimes when I take a day off, I feel like I end up doing more work. ¬†I need to get better at that. ¬†At least I made it out to work poolside for a bit.

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Just Me, Myself & I.

I had a chance to catch up with a friend of mine, Sarah, last night. ¬†She was in Sparkle City leading a training so we grabbed dinner, shared lots of laughs and then got down to the real business….
IMG_4213Krème de la Krème.

If I celebrated National Burger Day, I was SURELY not going to miss National Doughnut Day. ¬†I’ve only been to Krispy Kreme one time and it was years ago in D(M)yrtle Beach. When you bite into one of these bad boys it’s like air. Air = No calories, right? Calories, smalories. Who cares?! They were giving away a FREE doughnut to each costumer. ¬†This place was a mad house. Line out the door. Multiple lines of cars¬†wrapped around the building and down the street. People we’re like tailgating in the parking lot, Y’ALL. ¬†One mother walked away proclaiming to her son, “It’s not worth it, we’d be in line for an hour.” I really wanted to tell him his Mother was lying, that we didn’t wait in line THAT long, but realized that would probably doom me for some really bad karma when I have kids one day.

Over the past few years, May 28th – June 4th has become a pretty emotional week for me. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why my sister’s time here was cut short. However, I am grateful that I did have her here for 19 unforgettable years. Seeing the lives she impacted and¬†all of the wonderful times¬†she shared with friends and family leaves us all with countless memories to cherish forever. Any time when I’m in a funk, feeling uninspired or unmotivated, I remind myself that I’m living for two so snap out of it sister.

Whether you believe in God, believe in signs or think things are just a coincidence… I can’t put into words the feeling I get when I am blessed with little reminders every so often that make me truly feel that my lil one is still right here with me, just in a different way than I would’ve preferred.

Dine, Play

It’s Been a While

Just a thought before I get started. ūüėČ 

The past couple of weeks have been a little crazy, so here’s just a little bit of what’s been going on…

On Mother’s Day, we met my parents at the Brazwells in Ballantyne area. Our dinners were just ok. The warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream saved the day though for sure.

The next few days were really busy at work, especially since I was taking Thursday and Friday off to move. Mom and I made sure to take a break from packing on Thursday to go to Luna’s one “last” time. I had been wanting to try their Turtle Cake and figured why wait any longer. The cake is described as caramel and layers of chocolate cake (coconut & cashew based) with a chocolate pecan crust.

 Thank GOODNESS I won’t live 5 minutes from here anymore…

I took a break from moving on Saturday to go teach at Pure Barre Greenville for the first time. I’m super excited that there’s two studios just 10 minutes away from where I’m living. Lauren, the owner, is getting married and June 1st kicks off the 40 classes in 60 days challenge and I can not wait!

I’m a Marketer’s dream. I always give in to things so easily. I saw this gelato at Target and noticed the “Only at Target” stamp and just HAD to get it.

Talenti is my fave.

After throwing this in my cart, I walked around the corner and saw this…another Target exclusive – Suja’s 1 Day Renewal.

C’mon get into the cart.

I’ve gone for a couple of runs in my ‘hood since I’ve made it down here. The landscaping is pretty and the weather has been awesome so I’ve found it super motivating. I know this won’t last long once the humidity kicks in, so figured I should enjoy it while I can.

This past weekend was my first official one in town…and one of the only weekends I would be in town for a bit, so figured I would do some exploring. My parents decided to come down to join in on the fun.

Once they got into town on Saturday, we went to lunch at Midtown Deli (it’s right around the corner from where I live and lots of great options and not too heavy). After lunch we headed to Paris Mountain State Park to check it out. We ended up hiking for about 3.5 miles. Again, the weather was perfect and lots of shade on the trails made it even better. The park is huge and we only saw a small portion of it, so I am definitely looking forward to going back and checking out the rest of it.

“…please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to.”

Saturday night we went to Sushi Murasaki on Main Street. It’s rare that I end up loving ALL of the rolls that I get, but this time I loved all of them. My Dad and I both agreed that we had a hard time choosing a favorite between the Ocean Breeze, Pink Lady and the Volcano…but we think Volcano stole the show. The bartender was great and even introduced us to some delicious watermelon saki. I’m not usually a big fan of watermelon – I think mainly because I have flashbacks to watermelon vodka in college, but this was SO good. After Sushi we went to a handful of bars downtown. My parents have gone out in Greenville more than I have so I made sure to do my homework and reach out to my friends who know the area well so I could try to show ’em up.

On Sunday, I went to meet them at Falls Park on the Reedy.  I absolutely love it here. The park is in downtown Greenville. The Swamp Rabbit Trail runs through it so it’s not uncommon to see a lot of runners and bikers cruising and running on through.

Absolutely love it.

Still lovin’ it.

Who wants to go tubing?

Who is ready for a photoshoot?

Nature is neat.

After exploring we went to eat at Chicora Alley. My friends Emilee and Meg had both recommended it and it was right across the street from the park so it was perfect.  These two chicas did not lead us astray.  Time to meet the best salsa sampler I’ve ever had:

Pico de Gallo, Melon, Mango/Cucumber, Black Bean & Corn, Grape, Pineapple/Kiwi, Traditional Mexican and Guacamole

All of the salsas are made daily in house. I would go back for this appetizer alone. Since it was Sunday midday they were serving brunch as well. Our server recommended three different things and we opted to each get what she recommended. My Mom got the Roasted Pork Tenderloin Quesadillas, Dad got the Fish Tacos and I went with the Crab Cake Benedict.

Yes, please.

The crab cake was perfect and so was the rest of the dish. The pork on the quesadillas was some of the best pork I’ve ever had. So much flavor and perfect texture. The tacos were light and super tasty.

After stuffing my face, I went home for a bit to recuperate and then went to teach a class. After class I headed to the pool for a bit and then got myself together to go meet my parents for dinner.

We decided to go to Tupelo Honey. I’ve been to the one in Charlotte for brunch, but had never tried their dinner menu. I started off with the “Tupelo-Ritaville Margarita” it’s a perfect combination of tequila, Tupelo honey liqueur, house made fresh sweet and sour and a chili salt rim. Obssessed. I opted for the Shrimp and Grits.

SC stone-ground goat cheese grits, spicy roasted red pepper sauce.

After taking class this morning, I went to meet them for lunch once more before they headed back to Charlotte. Now, I’m off to figure out how I’m going to spend the rest of my day.

Before I go…

To all of you who have lost someone (mentally or physically) my heart and thoughts are with you today. And for all of those who continue to sacrifice your life and time away from your loved ones – a huge thank you to each and every one of you. ‚̧

Dine, Think - Speak - Inspire

Hey, It’s Me Again

Where to begin, where to begin??

The last week and a half have been a little crazy to say the least, but I don’t mind one little bit.

This past Thursday I flew out to Houston and then headed about 30 minutes or so to The Woodlands. I was leading a training there on Friday and Saturday.

This is a little weird.

During my trip to Massachusetts the week before I had picked up, Stuart Scott’s Everyday I Fight. I could not put it down. I read some on my flight to Houston, a little bit more on Friday and Saturday night and then finished it right before I landed back in Charlotte. I highly recommend this book. It’s perfect. Good luck making through it with dry eyes. It’s impossible for this book to not make you FEEL so many different things.

“Once you start questioning the bad stuff that comes your way, you have to start questioning the good — and I wouldn’t trade the good for anything.” – Stuart Scott

My coworker, Katie, recommended that I try Hubbell & Hudson. It was right down the street from the studio and after a late breakfast and no lunch, I rushed on over there for dinner. After going on Friday, I went back again on Saturday. It was just too convenient and TOO good. ¬†They have a “kitchen” location which is a relaxed, casual setting with so many options to pick from. Their “bistro” location gives you the full service dining experience.

 Story of my life.

The first day, I had the Cowboy Burger:

“Cowboy Style Sirloin Patty, Cheddar, Avocado, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Jalape√Īos, Onions, Fresh Tomatoes, Challah Bun”

When in Texas.

I finished it off with Caramel Gelato. Go big or go home.

Everything is bigger in Texas.

The second day, I opted for the Scratch Chicken Parmesan:

“All-Natural Chicken Breast, House-Made Marinara, Whole Milk Mozzarella, Parmesan, Breadcrumbs, Basil Pesto”

The gelato was too fabulous to not have it again. This time, half Peanut Butter and half Chocolate.

Don’t worry, I balanced all of this off by going to Pure Healthy Eatery for breakfast both days.

The first day, I tried the Pure Pancakes (Oatmeal and banana pancakes, served with organic butter and organic syrup). Loved them. On the second day, I had the Avocado BLT sandwich (egg whites, bacon, tomatoes, onions, avocado, cheddar and lettuce) Both days I went with the Almond Joy smoothie. It had almond milk, banana, almond butter, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and agave. Delicious.

Inspiring trainings, kick@$$ classes (thanks, Tina & Jaimee), awesome food, relaxation and an amazing book…What a great trip.

Until next time, Houston…

I made it back to Charlotte in time on Sunday to spend some time with my better half. We decided to go to Avengers: Age of Ultron.¬†Thanks, to him, I’m quite the fan of the Marvel series. If we’re going to the movies, I always like to go to ones that make sense to see on the big screen. The movie was good, a little slow at certain points, but overall I’d recommend it if you’re a fan.

Movie was followed by dinner at Three Amigos. If you live in Charlotte and haven’t been you’re seriously missing out.

Don’t let it’s location or exterior lead you astray.

I’ve been a hot mess with eating habits over the past month. Like, a REAL hot mess. I decided this was my “Last Supper” so decided to keep up the go big mentality (thank you, Texas).

Enchiladas Mixtas: One enchilada jalisciences, one enchilada verde, one enchilada poblano & one enchilada.

Let’s be serious, I’m being slightly dramatic with the “Last Supper”. I’m planning to eat really well Monday through Thursday (similar to how I was eating on The 30 Clean….keep that as the foundation Friday through Sunday, but allow those three days to incorporate some choices that aren’t the best in the world. Balance baby.

Monday, it was back to Sparkle. Mondays also means “Michelle Mondays” aka wear orange for my lil warrior. Perfect time to get a smoothie from Health In Hands.

Carrot, Orange, Banana & Coconut Water

If you’re in the Lake Norman / Charlotte area THIS Friday, May 8th please go see my friends at Pure Barre Lake Norman. They are hosting a “Swab-a-Thon” with Be the Match Foundation. All of the details below.

The movers come next week to bring everything from Charlotte to Greenville. I’m definitely ready to get all settled in and situated. Until then I will remain a road warrior.

One more thing before I go… my friend Amelia shared this article the other day, and I’m kinda obsessed – Why I Gave Up a $95,000 Job to Move to an Island.

Oh… and Happy Cinco de Mayo. Didn’t have any time to participate in any festivities – I sure hope you did!

Dine

Give Her Chocolate

“My problem is desserts. I am obsessed with desserts.” – Sofia Vergara

Girl, I HEAR ya. But, it sure looks like those desserts do no damage to that flawless chica.

A few years back, my friend Natalie gave me the cutest (and truest) little book when she came down to visit in Charleston.

¬†There’s even chocolate stains on here. *sigh*

Here’s a couple so you get the idea…

But, seriously.

The good ole days.

Lately, I’ve been trying out all sorts of new ways to have chocolate. ¬†Hey, if it’s going to become an every day thing, it’s better if I don’t head to Dairy Queen every day, right?

Destiny allowed me to stumble upon The Vedge‘s recipe for Raw Caramel Brownie Slice.

Here’s her perfect picture of the finished product:

Brownie Slice

Few things to note:

  1. I didn’t have a square pan that was the correct size so I opted for a circular pan. Which made me immediately feel like this was a vegan cheesecake / pie instead of a brownie.
  2. I didn’t have mesquite powder. ¬†The recipe only called for 1 tbsp and after doing my research I figured it shouldn’t alter the recipe too much. The recipe also suggested adding 1 tbsp of lucuma powder and I left that out as well.

I had taste tested all three layers as I made the this triple decker just to ensure everything was coming out ok. ¬†Wouldn’t want to add ’em on if something was off. All three had the seal of approval and I was excited to try the final product. ¬†I put it in the freezer, as suggested, and then headed to bed shortly after.

The next morning, I didn’t want to neglect my “beautiful creation” that was waiting for me, so I figured I would try a bite and take a picture. Somehow, I couldn’t get the perfect looking slice for a photo and had to keep slicing off another little piece and another little piece to try and get the perfect pic. Since I couldn’t let those bites go to waste I made sure to eat those too. ¬†Needless to say, I never got a photo that I was obsessed with, so this is what we’re working with.

Sometimes, you just gotta eat straight outta the pan.

I can’t decide if I like it best straight from the freezer or after it softens up a bit. When it’s straight from the freezer it makes me think of ice cream cake. If it’s left out for a bit or from the fridge it reminds me of the vegan cheesecake I used to get at Puree in Charleston. Either way, I love it. I wouldn’t say that the caramel flavor overall is SUPER caramely (I’m making that a word), but the three layers each compliment each other so well and give you the most delightful treat.

We won’t talk about how much of this I’ve eaten over the past two days. ¬†Luckily, my Mom came over yesterday to bring me some stuff (and we went to Luna’s – she had never been) so I sent her home with some of it too ūüôā

Dine, Music, Think - Speak - Inspire

I’m Gonna Be

In 1988, The Proclaimers released the song, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”…perhaps you remember it? I sure don’t, at least not in 1988, considering I was only two years old. I do however have very fond memories of this song playing at middle school dances and people jumping up and down singing this song like maniacs. Particularly around when the song hits the minute and half mark and this happened…

Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da
Da lat da (Da lat da), da lat da (Da lat da)
Da-da-da dun-diddle un-diddle un-diddle uh da-da

During The Superbowl, one of the Budweiser commercials that aired had an acoustic cover version of this song from Sleeping at Last playing.

Ahhhh, I’m not even a dog obsessed individual and remember fighting back tears. Who am I kidding…I’m sure I cried.

Recently the song popped up again at Pure Barre and I have been obsessed ever since.

It always blows my mind how an acoustic cover can totally make you FEEL a song so much more and really notice the lyrics in a whole new way. Slightly different feeling than my middle school days. Weird. Well, not really.

Have no idea what song I’m talking about? Don’t worry all these cool kids did when Imagine Dragons performed it last year in Scotland.

…Maybe because The Proclaimers are a Scottish duo? Or maybe just because they haven’t been living under a rock for the past 26 years. ūüėČ

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I spent my weekend in Sparkle City leading a two day training. You know, just doing a little something like this:

Exercise

And now, I’m at home sipping on a Frozen Moscow Mule that I made…stalling on the cleaning and seeing what I can whip up for dinner.

6 oz. Ginger Beer + 2 oz. Vodka + 1/2 oz. Lime Juice + Cup of Ice + Vitamix = Magic

Oh, and I went to Dairy Queen, not once, but TWICE to have the featured blizzard… Salted Caramel Truffle Blizzard. I think it’s safe to say that it’s my favorite blizzard of all time. I didn’t go twice in the same day. Not that that makes it any better. For all I know, I’ll go again tomorrow. Kidding. Maybe.

#HeavyweightsForLife

That’s all for now!

Heavyweights

Dine

I Just Can’t Get Enough

It’s safe to say if I had the magicians that call themselves chefs / cooks that work at Luna’s Living Kitchen actually living in my kitchen I could be satisfied with a raw/vegan diet. Well, maybe not forever, but at least a decent amount of time.

I’ve never had anything from Luna’s that I didn’t like. I’m obsessed with their most recent menu item and have mentioned it at least once before. The Manicotti. It’s cashew basil “ricotta” and fresh zucchini noodles served with a light and flavorful marinara. The side is an argugula salad, but I subbed it today with their Kale Salad.

ManicottiSometimes, I just stare at pictures of food. For a little too long.

I’ve found a few recipes for cashew ricotta and I definitely plan to give it a try in the very near future. Not sure if I would be able to get my zucchini cut so perfectly, but let’s be serious, I’m not trying to impress anyone so if the dish isn’t pretty, that’s ok! The marinara is to die for. I don’t think I could ever recreate this heavenly sauce. Do you have a favorite marinara recipe?! Send it my way, please and thank you.

Today I had a realization that there’s a good chance that I’m going to have chocolate every single day. Rather than fighting it, feeling guilty or trying to change…Just accept it. ¬†I’ve moved through the 5 Stages of Loss and Grief in record time. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Voila!

While I was waiting for my lunch at Luna’s today, I started to look at the juices and snacks in the fridge. Guiltless delights…right? Well well well, what do I spy with my little eye? A salted caramel brownie. Wait, what?! UGH! I was just talking about making the Dulce de Leche¬†Brownies recipe that I had stumbled upon. Clearly I have no will power and had to get one.

“…and I can’t change, even if I wanted to, even if I tried…”

Ever had the Salted Caramel Brownie from Amelies? So, so good. This little raw vegan creation from Luna’s definitely did the trick for me. When rich chocolate, caramel and the perfect amount of salt meet… I fall in love. Hard.

The day before, my Mom and I went to Pure Pizza. Another place that I am in love with. It is located in the 7th Street Market (more on how much I love this concept/place in general on another day) in Uptown Charlotte. They have a second location opening next month on Central Avenue. If you haven’t checked it out, I HIGHLY recommend it.

They have three different crusts to choose from, all of which are made from 100% locally grown organic grains. The toppings are also organic and locally grown – the sauces are made from 100% organic California tomatoes – the cheeses from Wisconsin and North Carolina. To read the full details head on over to their website.

With salads, calzones, sandwiches and pizzas there’s something for everyone and any dietary need. Check out the full menu!

I had¬†tried ‚ÄúSlap Yo Mama Lasagna‚ÄĚ once before and figured since I was going with my Mom it only made sense to have it for a second time. It’s organic tomato sauce, Grande mozzarella, ricotta cheese, ground beef, onions, garlic and fresh herbs.

Pizza“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie / That’s amore”

It. Is. So. Delicious. I love that I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty after eating this pizza and it’s seriously one of, if not my favorite, pizza places to eat at.

I came across this gif the other day and watched it over and over again. I couldn’t stop laughing and needed to find out the story behind it immediately.

KidBasically me at least once a day.

Here’s the video:

I don’t know why I find this so entertaining. Hopefully you get a laugh out of it too. ¬†That’s all I’ve got for now… Well, it wouldn’t feel right unless I left you with some type of quote or saying…

Dine, Think - Speak - Inspire

Sunday Soul Food

Happy Easter! I hope you all had a wonderful day and had a chance to enjoy some time with your family and friends.

‚ÄúUnless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.‚ÄĚ ‚Äē Fulton J. Sheen

I started my day, by making a smoothie. Let’s just call it the Energizer Bunny.

Energizer Bunny

1 packet of Aloha (Chocolate)
4 dates
1 cup unsweetened Vanilla almond milk
1 cup carrots
1 banana
¬Ĺ teaspoon vanilla extract
¬Ĺ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup spinach

Then it was off to Pure Barre to take Julie’s 8am class and then teach the 9:15am. After leaving the studio, I headed to the store to put together an Easter basket. Talk about waiting until the last minute.

Basket

You’re never too old for an Easter basket.

Complete with some of his essentials – Cadbury Eggs, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites, Vanilla Creme Egg, Butterfinger Eggs, Reese’s Eggs, Nerds Rope, Bubble Gum, Peeps, Red Bull Cherry, Orange and Tropical.

I got home made a rather late breakfast, showered and then got ready to meet my parents for lunch. We decided to try out The Liberty. ¬†I’ve been there twice before – once for lunch and once for dinner, but no one else had been there before. They were doing a special menu for Easter Brunch…and it wasn’t a buffet, which was a GREAT thing for us ūüėČ

Brunch¬†started with Buttermilk Biscuits for the table. There were four different options for the first course and I chose ‘The Gatherer’ –¬†Tega Hill‚Äôs Tender Greens, Avocado, Roasted Beets, Toasted Pecans,¬†Bosc Farm‚Äôs Goat Cheese, Radish and Herb Vinaigrette. It was good – nothing out of this world. Randall and my Dad both opted for the ‘Southern Pickled Shrimp’ –¬†Belgian Endive, Watercress, Spring Onions and Champagne Vinaigrette. ¬†They both ate it all and said it was pretty good. Mom had ‘Peas & Carrots’ –¬†Salt-Baked Heirloom Carrots, English Peas, Bacon-Onion Jam,¬†Pea Tendrils, Baby Arugula and Buttermilk Dressing. ¬†There was no Bacon-Onion Jam on the salad, which is really sad – because bacon makes everything better! Boo. My Dad had originally ordered the She Crab Soup and was pretty bummed when they came back to let them know they were out of it.

For the Main Course we all got the ’24 Hour Slow Roasted Southern Ham’ –¬†Southern Collard Greens, Baby Green Beans, Smoked Gouda Macaroni¬†& Cheese, Apple-Cinnamon Chutney & Ham Hock Glaze. Everyone liked it – my favorite was the mac and cheese. No surprise there.

For dessert, I had the ‘Warm Chocolate Cake’ – French Merinque, Chocolate Sauce and Strawberries. As I type this, I just realized there was no strawberries on it, which isn’t a huge deal because I really just care about chocolate. ‚̧ My Mom had the ‘Salted Caramel Budino’ – Cookie Crust, Butterscotch Pudding and Whipped Cream. I tried a bite of it – it was good, but I liked mine better. Dad and Randall had the Bourbon Pecan Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream.

DessertIt was basically Chocolate Lava Cake. Delightful decadence. 

My favorite part was the dessert and the mac n cheese. Honestly, I like my Mom’s home cooked Easter cuisine better.

After I rolled myself out of there we took a few pictures before heading home for a breather.

Mom#1 Easter Bunny.

RandallMaking Roy G. Biv proud.

Late last night I posted the below picture with the caption, “I hope the Easter bunny comes tonight and brings me Play-Doh, bubbles, stuffed animals and candy like the good ole days.”

Easter

And I left brunch with this:

BunnyThe Easter Bunny is real, y’all.

The Easter Bunny is so attentive and thoughtful!

Before we got too comfortable on the couch, we grabbed a bottle of champagne, kumquats and headed over to our friend’s house to enjoy the rest of our afternoon / evening. ¬†I came across kumquats the other day at Trader Joe’s. One of the many things I love about TJ’s are the notes under every product that either give you a tip or more info about the product. The note under kumquats suggested adding to cocktails. Perfect. It’s basically a mini orange.

MimosaI may have had more fruit in my flute than champagne.

There was way too much delicious food and treats, but isn’t that always the case?! Let’s just say I’m looking forward to a green smoothie first thing tomorrow and making sure I load up on veggies! ¬†I know I mentioned this yesterday, but I need to get back on track – I was feeling so so good with our new way of eating and want to feel that way again.

“If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from the inside.” – Jim Kwik

On Holidays, I always like to take some time to reflect on what that day is in celebration or remembrance of. If I’m not sure, I like to do my homework and fill myself in. I also like to think back over the years and remember all of the great times I had with my family and friends. There’s always certain things that stand out to me and often times leave me feeling very nostalgic as I day dream about all the bittersweet memories. Those memories give me motivation and inspiration to spend my time with those that I love to add more pages to the Book of Life (Danielle Cote Edition).

“Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will say either, ‘I wish I had’ or ‘I’m glad I did.'” – Zig Ziglar