littleSpoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

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Where can you go for great brunch eats and 90′s/00′s hip hop? Try littleSpoon {Charlotte, NC} for a delicious hip hop brunch.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

I can’t say I’ve been anywhere else in town where you can get this experience, potentially making this my new favorite, local brunch spot. Well-crafted food + locally sourced ingredients + some of my favorite tunes = a winning combination.

Hubby actually suggested checking out this restaurant a couple weekends ago, and I happily agreed. littleSpoon is located off of Selwyn Avenue where FABO used to be, in the same shopping center as Mellow Mushroom. The space is a little on the smaller side, but it’s well decorated and comfortable. I’m not sure if they take reservations, but it may be worth making them, if possible.

I’d had a lot of coffee that morning, so I decided to try something different to drink. Fresh-made lemonade hit the spot. It was a little bubbly and lightly sweet, just how I like my lemonade.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

We considered starting with the doughnuts, but when we heard there was a blueberry, homemade “pop tart” special, we were sold. The starter was great – so much better than a boxed pop-tart. littleSpoon’s version was made with fresh blueberries and a hint of citrus in a golden pie crust.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

We decided to share a couple main dishes. Hubby ordered the homemade “hot pocket” with egg whites, turkey sausage, and jalapeño. I tried a bite and really enjoyed it, though it was a little spicy for me. I’m a weeny when it comes to spicy food, though. The flavors were great together, and I enjoyed the dough, which reminded me a little bit of pizza/calzone dough.

Little Spoon {Charlotte, NC} Hip Hop Brunch

But, the hash stole the show for me. Not only was it beautiful, but it was the perfect combination of ingredients. I believe it contained purple potatoes, bell peppers, onions, sausage, micro greens, and a sunny-side up egg on top. I love these types of dishes – the ones where you try to gather a little bit of every tasty component in a single bite to enjoy the flavors together.

The weather was warm when we visited littleSpoon so we sat outside. We took in the sunny day whilst enjoying our brunch eats and songs by Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Tupac. It’s not every day you can enjoy this combination, but hubby and I are already looking forward heading back to littleSpoon for another tasty hip hop brunch soon.

Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals

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As most of you can probably relate, my crazy schedule sends me looking for easy, healthy, weeknight meal ideas. I recently gave farro a couple makeovers so I could enjoy it three times in one week as simple, vegetarian entrées. I present: Farro 3 Ways – Easy Weeknight Meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

Do any of these meals look intimidating? If you don’t cook often, they could. But trust me, they were so easy! If you can make rice pilaf, you can make the main farro dish that kicks off all of the other easy meals.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#1 – Black Eyed Peas with Farro

My easy eats began with a trip to the farmers market. I’d had a long day at work and had left a little late. I love going to the market after work because I find it a relaxing place where I can get delicious, local ingredients. The market is full of good energy, so I like to soak that up and start to un-wind after work sometimes. I picked up some radishes, sweet potatoes, kale, onions, and apples without knowing what I’d do with it.

By the time I was finally headed home, I didn’t want to stop at even one more place. I decided to make something for dinner out of the pantry and found some Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and a can of black eyed peas. I did a play on my Rosemary Garlic Farro with Chickpeas recipe, except I didn’t even bother to chop up some garlic. The 10 minute farro helped speed up the total cooking time. I roasted the sweet potatoes, which didn’t take too long since I cut them pretty small. I kept the flavors simple and roasted the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I learned a tip from the vendor who sold me the radishes. She said I could sauté the radish bottoms and greens (adding these near the end of the cooking) with butter. She was right. It was good!

The whole meal was pretty straightforward in cooking methods and flavors, but I really enjoyed it. I also thought this was slightly easier for cooking for one, since hubby was having dinner out.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

#2 – Sautéed Garlic-y Black Eyed Peas with Farro

I’m not a fan of microwaves, so I decided to sauté the leftover black eyed peas with farro from the night before with a little oil and garlic. I heated the oil in a pan and cooked the garlic till it was fragrant, just under a minute. I added a nice portion of the leftover farro and sautéed the whole thing till it was warmed through. I also roasted another sweet potato and steamed up some kale. We usually put butter and a sprinkle of salt over our steamed vegetables, but I like my kale drizzled with just a little soy sauce instead sometimes.

Farro 3 Ways - Easy Weeknight Meals

3 – Tofu Farro Stir-Fry

On the third day, I still had leftover farro, so I decided to change the flavor profile by making a quick stir-fry. I swung by the grocery store on the way home from teaching Zumba to get another time-saver item – cubed tofu. No pressing and cutting tofu for me! I started this dinner by sautéing the tofu in a pan with a little oil and soy sauce. I added the farro and cooked everything until the farro was heated through, adding a little more soy sauce, to taste. Meanwhile, I steamed up some cabbage and kale, which I served with a drizzle of soy sauce. This may have been my laziest preparation of the black eyed peas with farro, but I think it was my favorite.

***

Though I prefer eating different things every night, I appreciated how simple and healthy these weeknight meals were. They were a huge relief after a long day of work and teaching my Zumba class. And they were so good too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

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After a great first day at Kiawah Island for my birthday beach weekend, I was looking forward to a relaxing Day 2. The weather called for rain all day, so I saved my bathing suit for the following day, which was supposed to be beautiful. Who’d have known that I’d actually capture some of my favorite photos of the trip on the rainy day, though?

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

{A preview of that evening}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Sis whipped up a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

And for one of our meals out, we planned to visit my favorite Kiawah Island restaurant – Jasmine Porch for lunch.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Sis got the shrimp and grits.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Dad got the chickpea salad with grilled salmon. He’s mostly gone vegan but will eat fish once in awhile.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Mom and I got the same thing – Lunch on the Porch with crab cakes sliders, beet salad, and she crab soup. I opted for fries on mine. I actually got this last year, and it was so good, I wanted to enjoy it all over again.

Hubby got the sandwich with mahi mahi, bacon, lettuce, and tomato.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Jasmine Porch surprised me with a free birthday dessert – the chocolate mousse pie! They did something similar last year, and my Instagram photo was one of my favorites of the last trip. I actually ended up printing the photo on a sheet of Instagram photos for my Erin Condren Life Planner, which I placed on my birthday of this year’s calendar.

***

That night, we participated in an event at Mingo Point. To be honest, after being in the house relaxing during the rainy day, I wasn’t looking forward to doing something outdoors. We weren’t sure if the rain would hold off, and I hadn’t brought clothes for as cool a day as it was turning out to be. I’m so glad I went, though, because it was one of my favorite experiences of the weekend. Here are some photos from the night:

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

{Sangria}

***

After exploring the main area of Mingo Point for a bit, hubby, sis, and I went on a mini boat ride on the marsh. We wanted to go before dinner was served, but that boat was full, so we signed up for the next one. The timing worked out great for us because we got to enjoy the most beautiful sunset and saw a bonus surprise. I took so many photos, in fact, that I’m going to share those photos in a separate post. More photos on that next time!

***

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Back on land, dinner was served.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

They had a huge buffet set up with so many delicious options.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

We had a great meal of roasted pork, mahi mahi, rice, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and more. There was dessert on the buffet and I had a small slice of pecan pie. We thought we were done there, but then we remembered the fire pit from earlier and had to check it out.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Yes – s’mores!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

We relaxed by the fire pit and just enjoyed the moment. It was very relaxing.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 2}

And we even had a special guest. I think this guy has done this before.

Thank you Jasmine Porch and Mingo Point for a great day of eats and relaxation!

***

Thanks for stopping by. Check back next time for photos from the boat ride on the marsh!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

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When my parents first suggested going to Kiawah Island for my birthday weekend, I scoffed at the idea. To me, the beaches near Charleston (Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, etc.) were easier and faster to get to, so why bother driving an extra 30 minutes? Though I love road trips, I don’t like being in the car longer than I need to be. But, when I went to Kiawah Island for my birthday last year, I fell in love with the place. I couldn’t wait to go back, and I took off extra days this year to enjoy the island a little longer.

Last year, we made the mistake of planning to eat out for most of the meals. There aren’t many restaurants at Kiawah Island, and they’re all pretty pricey. Luckily, if you stay in a house or villa with a kitchen and plan ahead, you can enjoy home-cooked meals on the island. My sister took the lead on planning an efficient and delicious set of meals for our entire vacation, and she did a fantastic job. I can’t wait to share photos from the weekend of the beach and the eats!

Here are some photos from the first day. We got a later start than we expected on Thursday, so we only had time to enjoy dinner and head to bed. So, I’ll count Thursday night and all day Friday as “day 1″…

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Sis planned a light dinner for Thursday of chickpeas over bulgar.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We had fried plantains for dessert.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

One of my favorite things about Kiawah is the lush scenery. There are tree-covered paths and boardwalks all around. If you stay in the right place, the beach is a short walk away.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

On Friday, we started with fresh-baked zucchini muffins, sausage, and spinach-pepper omelets.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We lucked out on the weather. It was supposed to rain all day, but we caught some sunshine in the morning. It was just enough to hit up the beach for a couple hours.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We thought we may be able to use these beach chairs, but they had reserved signs on them. There was plenty of space on the beach to spread out.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Mine?”

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

For lunch, we had breaded chicken, beans from the garden, and mashed potatoes with vegan gravy.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Yum!

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

After lunch, sis and I headed out for a bike ride around the island.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

We had pasta for dinner – vegan for dad.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

And sis went above and beyond and baked bread from scratch! She made two loaves of delicious rye bread.

Kiawah Island Birthday Beach Weekend {Day 1}

While dad had vegan pasta with whole wheat noodles, the rest of us had fresh-spaghetti with homemade meatballs.

We were off to a wonderful weekend already! I’ll share the rest of the photos soon!

Thanks for stopping by!

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

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For the last day of our Zumba Convention road trip, we originally planned to just hit the road straightaway. But, after getting rained out the day before, we decided to spent just a short time at the beach before heading home.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is beautiful, and of course the weather was just perfect on the day we were leaving. From the beach to the pools, I definitely want to come back here!

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

We decided to hit up the Omni’s Sunrise Café for a quick breakfast. I had no intentions of getting the breakfast buffet, but I decided to take a look at it out of curiosity. The Omni’s breakfast buffet turned out to be the best breakfast buffet I think I’ve seen, mostly because of all of the health-conscious options, homemade goodies, and local choices. I had to try it!

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

Look at this cool honeycomb contraption.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

The honey drips down and into this little jar. I took a small spoonful to put on top of some oatmeal. I love honey in oatmeal.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

Do you see what I see? Almond milk, Chobani, and another great yogurt option. I don’t see these options often…maybe it’s where I live and travel, but still. I was impressed.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

{Healthy dried fruit cereal toppings}

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

{Homemade granola – nice!}

I added some of the homemade granola to my plate to taste. It was delicious!

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

I wanted a little bit of everything on this line of hot food, but I was short on stomach space. I did try the grits, which came from the Carolinas!

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

Steel cut oatmeal is always a nice touch in my opinion. They had some great toppings just next to the big pot of oats, including some whole pecans.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

If I remember correctly, many of these breads are baked on site.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

I think they made some of the jams, too.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

{Pastries and specialty butters}

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

One of the best features of the Sunrise Café is that it’s on the beach side of the Omni Amelia Island, so you get a great view of the ocean…and if you wake up early enough – the sunrise.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

Sarah got the French toast, which looked absolutely delicious and came with some sort of peach topping.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

I didn’t take pictures of it, but there was also a cool omelet bar where you could get some great mixins, including local shrimp. I went for spinach, ham, cheddar cheese, and onions.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

I only wished I had room to eat more. Everything looked so delicious.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

{The view from our hotel room}

After a quick change, we headed to the beach.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

I loved the canopy-covered beach chairs.

The beach was lovely – the sand, the breeze, the water! It was tough to leave, but soon enough, it was time to head home.

Omni Amelia Island and Sunrise Café

And I used one of the beach photos to create a quote graphic with a line from one of my favorite songs.

With our 2014 Zumba Convention road trip done, I was feeling very thankful for the whole experience. Everything happened so fast, it was almost like a dream. I did my best to enjoy every moment, and there were many to love.

Until next year!

Check out my other 2014 Zumba Convention Road Trip Posts:

Thanks for reading!

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

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I never flew anywhere growing up. We were more of a road trip family. So, after flying to the first two Zumba Conventions I attended (in 2011 and 2012), it made sense that I opted for a new method of travel eventually…by car. I did my first Zumba Convention road trip last year with my friend Sarah, and it was the best decision by far. We had a blast! Of course, the road trip wouldn’t be complete without a couple great stops, and we visited our same beach pit stop from last year, Hammock Beach Resort.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

We had morning appointments at the spa with plans to do the beach, lunch, more beach, and dinner.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

The day was gorgeous. After the spa, we took a quick trip to check out the beach before heading to the pool area for lunch.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

{No need to pack beach towels!}

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Pictured above is the small hotel section of Hammock Beach Resort. This building is considered the true hotel. The rest of the facility is apparently comprised of condos that people own, though the resort rents the rooms like a hotel. At least that’s how I understood it. The hotel section is also where the Atlantic Grille (yum!) restaurant and golf carts are located.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Hammock Beach Resort seems to have something for everyone – from kids to adults. They have a spa, golf course, cigar bar, crazy-awesome pool (with multiple levels, areas, and a lazy river), and eight dining options. You pretty much never have to leave during your vacation, which is nice.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Sarah and I loved the two restaurants we visited last year, so we hit them up again this year. First up – we had lunch at the Ocean Bar & Cafe.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

The food here is really great, and you have a beautiful view full of palm trees.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

We started with the crudités for some veg servings.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

We really wanted to order the same sandwich we got last year that was made with mahi mahi, but they didn’t have it on the menu. So, we opted for their new fish sandwich – the BBQ salmon with cole slaw.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

It was really good, and I really liked the way they cooked the salmon!

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

While we were eating, a storm rolled in. We stayed at the restaurant watching the rain, hoping the sun would come back. As time passed, we started to think we may end up spending the rest of the day inside the resort. The restaurant is actually located completely outside, so I started wondering if we’d end up soaked if we tried making a run for the hotel. The rain just didn’t seem to want to stop.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Finally, the rain started to clear up, so we had a choice: make a run for the hotel or check out the beach. We were feeling optimistic, so we headed to the beach.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

The clouds rolled out over the ocean, and the sun seemed to be coming back.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

We were so glad we went back out because we had more sun and fun on the beach. Three cheers for staying positive!

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

We visited another fave from last year for dinner – Atlantic Grille. We started with rolls and two kinds of butter – regular and cheddar bacon. That’s right – cheddar bacon butter! It was as good as it sounds.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

Sarah tried a seafood pasta dish with a pimento cheese cream sauce. I tried a bite and really liked it.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

But, the short rib was calling my name. I remembered enjoying this quite a bit last year. This year’s version was served over creamy parmesan ivory lentils with wild mushrooms and carrot purée.

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

And we split a flour-less chocolate cake for dessert. Another great dinner at Atlantic Grille! Great eats all around at Hammock Beach, in fact, including one last meal before we hit the road for convention…

Hammock Beach {Zumba Convention Road Trip}

We opted for room service for breakfast since we were in vacation mode and hoping to save some time. It was a real treat, and the perfect way to start the day. With a session starting at 12:30, I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat a large lunch, so a filling breakfast was just right.

We had another great visit to Hammock Beach Resort! I can’t wait to bring hubby and Bailey here sometime. I think they’ll love it!

Next up – Zumba Convention 2014 Day 1. Thanks for reading!

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