Megan’s Bowling Birthday Party

After the most-delicious brunch ever, the day continued with more fun.

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A bunch of us went out for Megan’s birthday party. A bowling birthday party!

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We hit up Strike City for a night of fun.

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Tasty cheese and dessert platters.

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Plus a vanilla Dean & Deluca cake for the birthday party – a lil gift from me and Erica.

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I learned that I am a terrible bowler. I had hands down the worst score. I blame my bum wrist. Luckily, I got some tips from a couple of the girls at the party and (though I really did have the worst score), I finally got 2 strikes for the night! Even though I was not good at bowling, I had a really fun time.

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We had a really chill group out. Literally, no one was really checking scores. We just had fun throwing some bowling balls around and cheering when one another did well. We had plenty of granny and backward-granny tosses in there, btw. Oh yes. Don’t hate…they work! Fun times. :P

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And after bowling…

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..we went out DANCING!!

I got home super late, but it was so worth it for the fun night with friends celebrating a special occasion.

Happy Birthday Megan!

Reader question: Do you like bowling? What’s your bowling strategy?

Amazing Brunch at Print Works Bistro

Happy end of the weekend friends!

I hope you all enjoyed wonderful weekends. Mine was exceptionally jam-packed, but so fun!

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Here’s a riddle for you: What’s brown and white and warm all over? You’ll see momentarily.

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On Saturday morning, I had the pleasure of enjoying two of my loves:

  • Fabulous Food
  • Being a photographer

My friend Erica “hired” me to be the official photographer for a special birthday event for some of her best friends.

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We headed to Print Works Bistro, in the Proximity Hotel, in Greensboro, NC.

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The inside of the restaurant was lovely – open and airy with long white curtains that reminded me of Miami.

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Delicious Bloody Mary’s with crab in them!

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My hot date.

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I went for a mimosa.

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A new take on salted butter.

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As for eats, Erica and I are great food-sharing-friends. We decided to order a handful of dishes and split them all.

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Life’s short. Have dessert first. I mean, they are on the “appetizer” menu. ;)

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Did you figure out the riddle? The answer is warm, cream-filled beignets! They even came with dipping sauces – honey and chocolate.

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Nom nom nom! These little bundles of delight were so good.

Can you believe four beignets make up half of the order! A full order comes with eight!

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We also split a roasted beet salad with one of the best salad dressings I’ve had.

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Erica and I split two entree dishes, too:

  • Black pepper grilled salmon with honey-lime butter sauce, creme fraiche mashed potatoes and French green beans
  • Pan seared scallops over black “forbidden” rice with beurre blanc and sauteed spinach.

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The restaurant split these dishes for us, too and even combined them on a single plate! So nice!

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The black forbidden rice was especially interesting – crunchy and chewy at the same time.

Everything was seasoned nicely and absolutely delicious. Could this have been the best brunch everrrrr?!

Anywho, I took lots of photos of people in addition to all the food photos, but I’m saving those to be shared with the birthday girls since this was a personal event. ;)

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Here are the birthday girls – Catherine and Sarah. Happy birthday ladies!

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And a big thank you to Erica for the amazing brunch!!

Reader question: At which restaurant did you have your best brunch ever?

The Mystery of Daffodils

It seems we’re going to enjoy spring in February this year thanks to the strangely warm weather we’ve been having all month.

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Last week, I had the pleasure of watching one of the daffodils in my garden open (almost) before my very eyes.

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The daffodils are one of the mysterious plants growing in our backyard currently. It’s not so much that daffodils are an unusual plant…they’re actually quite common in the Carolinas. The reason these plants are so mysterious is because the previous homeowner planted many perennial flowers and other plants around the house and hubby and I are clueless about plants. As we’ve lived in this house for the last year plus, we’re often surprised by what will pop up out of the ground from time to time. The daffodils are one of my favorites because they remind me of home. And when I say “home”, I mean the homes I grew up in. Though we moved around quite a bit, my family often had daffodils in the yard. They are a sentimental flower for me. :)

I think I’ve mentioned before…my dad is quite the gardener. He loves plants, nature, and just being outdoors. He’s subscribed to countless magazines and read (probably) thousands of books on the subjects. He is a wealth of plant knowledge. Ahh…if only I had paid more attention to his talks on plants.

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I went out to the yard last week to observe the daffodils poking out of the ground and found a bud or two that seemed to be on the verge of opening. I figured they’d take a day or two to open up…

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…so imagine my surprise later to go outside and find this.

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A gorgeous, fully opened flower.

I have so much to learn about flowers and plants. As a homeowner, I feel like I should know more. As the daughter of an avid gardener and plant lover (and one who read books and books and was himself quite the encyclopedia of plant knowledge), I really want to.

Matcha Times Three + Kitchen Inspiration

TGIF!

I have a busy weekend ahead, but I’m really excited about it! I hope you have some fun plans, too!

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I was WFH today because I had to leave early for a quarterly meeting and things got so busy with work first thing, I almost forgot to eat!

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I decided to heat up some of those Mini Matcha Green Tea Banana Nut Muffins that I made recently.

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I froze the leftovers and re-baked them for an oven-fresh taste without all the mixing and dirty bowls. ;)

And I had a matcha green tea latte to pull the flavors together! A bite of matcha muffin followed by a sip of matcha latte. Lovely!

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I think Bailey sleeping on the couch is the sweetest thing. I could watch him cuddled up there all day!

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Lunch featured more kale from my garden just outside. Can you tell I haven’t been to the grocery store in awhile? lol

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I had more udon noddles in the pantry, but since I’ve been on such a big matcha kick lately, it seemed like a good idea to use the green tea noodles I had instead.

In case you’re just catching up, I’ve had several matcha green tea related eats lately:

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I kept with the green theme and also added the organic green kale from my garden, organic green edamame, and organic green peas. Plus sesame seeds on top. The sauce for this was super easy and only used 3 ingredients. I’ll have to draft it up for you soon in case you want to try it…which you totally should!

You could try my Tangy Tamari Tempeh Noodles while I work on this new one.

These noodle dishes are usually ready in 15-20 minutes and can be made with very few ingredients! Plus they’re freakin dee-lish!

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I’ve always struggled finding good photos of Giada’s Everyday Italian kitchen (the one I’m using as inspiration for the kitchen in my home), so I just snapped some iPhone photos from the TV show (the DSLR wasn’t getting clear photos for some reason).

Just LOOK at that gorgey kitchen! *drool* It’s the backsplash that I originally fell in love with. Very The Chic Life turquoise, no? ;)

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After questioning the material, I confirmed with my twitter friends that it appears her backsplash is actually ceramic tile. Interesting. Does anyone know where I can find pretty turquoise-y colors in ceramic tiles? I’ve found lots in glass, but all the ceramic ones I’ve seen online are pretty neutral.

***

Anywho, I left work early to head out for a company quarterly meeting.

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And then I hit up a Bobcats game!

Even though I’m not the biggest basketball fan, I think it would be pretty cool to have season passes here. It would be nice to support a local team and I think hubby would enjoy it.

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And did you know the Bobcats arena has a dessert cart?! YES! A whole cart of sweet treats. Nom! I had a slice of chocolate cake. Yummers!

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I seriously have one of the most jam-packed Saturdays ever tomorrow. I think I’m going to be going non-stop from about 8am to…well…let’s just say it may be a late night. You’ll seeeeee. I may not be able to post again until Sunday, so be sure to check my Facebook and Twitter for fun updates.

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Seems like I can’t get enough matcha green tea these days! What’s an ingredient you’ve been utilizing a lot lately (doesn’t have to be “fancy” – any ingredient!) ;)

A Latte Matcha

Happy Thursday friends!

Even though this has been a super busy…no…CRAZY busy week, and I’m typing this at 11:30pm, for some reason I’m feeling super energized. Maybe it’s because I taught Zumba tonight? Maybe it’s because I feel that change is in the air and that many good things are to follow? I don’t know, but I’ll take it!

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Guess what I tried out today? I’ll tell you in a minute.

But first…

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Look what hubby dug out of the mug collection. This is my Universal Studios mug that I got when I used to live in Orlando back in the day. Many of you may remember I consider myself a “theme park baby.” I grew up for most of my childhood in Orlando and spent many-a-trip to the local theme parks. It’s like I grew up visiting them.

From spending school field trips at Sea World to having dinner at Epcot (yes, my family once in awhile drove to Epcot…just for dinner. We were season pass holders.), I spent a lot of QT and many fond memories of theme parks.

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Hubby whipped up a fried cage-free egg and one of those delish rye bagels for breakfast.

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And did you figure out what was in that first photo?

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It’s a matcha green tea latte! I’ve been cooking with my matcha so much, I almost forgot that I was really supposed to DRINK it!

I whipped this up (literally) using hot water and some of the matcha powder. I added a wee bit of agave for sweetness and some milk for creaminess. It was dee-lish!!

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Our squirrel neighbors have been out and about. I think they sense spring is right around the corner.

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Lunch was quick and easy – a turkey melt over Great Harvest honey whole wheat with Basil turkey from Earthfare and spicy Monterey Jack cheese. I also had some kale chips using fresh kale from my garden (I think that makes it organic since I didn’t use pesticides) and an organic gala apple. Yummers!

Post work, I taught an amazing Zumba class. There was so much energy in the air and I’m starting to see some people who used to be new becoming regulars. LOVE!

My favorite songs tonight were:

Things stayed busy after class. I hit up the mall with my friend Sarah to get some makeup from Sephora for the weekend. My Friday is already completely booked, as is my Saturday morning. Tonight was my last chance! We hit up a Mexican restaurant for dinner and then practiced some songs outside. A hip hop instructor was passing us dancing and offered to teach us some lessons. So random, but I love how dance unites people. It’s such a universal language.

Anywho, I finally got home around 11pm tonight, but yes…I’m still feeling fabulous and energized. And I’m already looking forward to the weekend. It’s going to be a good one!

Time to spend 5 minutes of “Me Time” maybe reading or something. Tea sipping is definitely up next…right before bed.

G’night!

What are you up to this weekend?

First Steps to Sanity

Firstly, I must thank you all for your supportive comments, Facebook comments, tweets, IMs, and emails. I’m blown away by how supportive everyone has been about my most recent post, Is My Schedule Making Me Crazy? I really feel like I’ve gotten one big, giant, bear-hug from all of my virtual and real life friends. I don’t think I can say thank you enough, but I’ll try. THANK YOU!!!

Besides all the encouraging notes, I also received some fantastic time management/schedule tips. I’ve been reading through them all and am trying to figure out which ones best fit my lifestyle and when they can be applied.

So, many of you were probably wondering…will she blog tonight? Obviously, you’re reading this post so the answer is yes. lol. I’m not planning on giving anything up immediately. For now, I plan to continue my life style the way it is and observe. I don’t think I can really correct things until I pinpoint what’s not working. I do like the idea of cutting back on blogging, whether it be with shorter posts, scheduled posts, or blogging on less days, but…we’ll just have to see how things pan out.

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I wasn’t sure what to eat for breakfast but was really craving oatmeal and whipped up a quick bowl.

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I just did a simple AB + J bowl with chia seeds, almonds, Barney Butter and Bonne Maman strawberry preserves.

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Now, about those house frustrations. I’m planning to put more attention to some of my frustrations with the house so I can really make this “house” into a “home.” One thing I’ve been consistently frustrated with is our kitchen. Long time readers may remember the kitchen renovation we did on our house between October 2009 and roughly January 2010. You can click here to view some of the “before” and “after” photos of our kitchen.

At a high level, we did the following:

  • Repainted the cabinets white
  • Removed a roughly 8ft section of wall between the kitchen and living room
  • Installed an island
  • Installed a pantry
  • Replaced countertops with granite
  • Painted window frame
  • Moved door between kitchen and dining room
  • Replaced wood paneling with dry wall
  • Replaced large, bulky overhead light with recessed lighting
  • Replaced 3 layers of linoleum floor with tile
  • Installed pendant lights over island

As you can see, we did quite a bit of work and think we just sort of burned out both time wise and budget wise. Now that we’ve had some time to save, we think we’re ready to finish. Our contractor joked that the last 5% of a project takes 95% of the time. This is at least true for us.

We really don’t have much left until I’d consider our kitchen finished:

  • Install backsplash
  • Add hardware to cabinets
  • Add curtains to window
  • Paint walls
  • Finish small details, like transition pieces and borders under cabinets
  • New appliances…though we will probably wait until the ones we have go kaput

So, I’m making it a priority to try to get this finished. We’re so close to the end of this project…I just want to cross that finish line!

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My friends recently ordered a new backsplash and let us borrow their tile samples they ordered online. The one pictured in my hand is the current front runner. It looks like my signature TCL turquoise, no? ;)

Really, I like this one because it looks like the tile in Giada’s Everyday Italian kitchen, and many of you may remember that I was trying to basically replicate her kitchen in my house.

Anywho, I went ahead and ordered 5 more similar samples today so we can be extra certain we get the right color.

I’m just thrilled we’re finally making progress on the house again. Hazzah!

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I know you guys probably think I’m crazy, but with all the madness of my schedule I ended up subbing a Zumba class for a fellow instructor tonight. I went straight to a second dance class afterwards (it’s kind of a secret, but I’ll explain later). This put me leaving my house at around 8:45am this morning and returning at about 9:30pm…but hey, at least I had take-out pizza in hand.

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One lifestyle/schedule change I’m hoping to effect immediately is one I’ve been trying to do for awhile – make some “me time” in my schedule every day. I’m hoping to spend at least 5 minutes per day doing something I want to that relaxes me. Tonight, I read a home style magazine for about 10 minutes and took a couple deep breaths. It felt good. Really good. I’m definitely looking forward to more of those!

I’m not sure if anyone is interested, but it did seem like others were having similar schedule challenges. Perhaps I can pick one change to focus on every week and encourage others to do the same?

If you’re interested, then this week’s challenge is “5 Minutes for Me”. Try to carve out 5 precious minutes of your schedule to do something you want that makes you feel better. Read, take a bath, whatever. Make you a priority, even for just 5 minutes, every day.

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So, another long day in this TCL life, but I must say, busy as it was, I’m really feeling good about the progress I’m making towards a more organized and balanced life. Cheers!

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