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!

Dumpling Making Party

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My friend Briana had a dumpling making party this weekend, and it was so much fun!

I even went with her to the Grand Asia Market for some pre-party grocery shopping and lunch earlier in the day. You can check out photos of our adventure on either my Facebook or Instagram account.

Dumpling Making Party

As for the dumpling making party, we all got hands on prepping the ingredients, from chopping to mixing. The dumpling filling was made with ground pork, fresh ginger, and bok choy (plus a couple other things, I think). Once everything was prepped, we hand formed hundreds of tiny dumplings. Briana was our lead dumpling making instructor, and she showed us how to fold the dumplings.

Dumpling Making Party

There were two ways to make the dumplings: 1) with the dumpling press and 2) by hand. There are videos for both on my Instagram if you want to see a visual.

I went straight for the by-hand folding. One thing I didn’t realize was that you only fold one side of the dumpling along the top. The back side stays flat/straight. Who knew? Briana family’s method was to start at one side and fold all the way down to the other. Another one of Briana’s friends showed her grandmother’s way, which was to start in the middle and fold outwards, one side at a time. They were both beautiful…once you got the folding down.

Dumpling Making Party

We filled up a few different trays full of beautiful dumplings just waiting to be steamed.

Dumpling Making Party

After a quick trip to the sauna (bamboo steamer)…

Dumpling Making Party

…they were ready to eat!

Dumpling Making Party

Attack! I tell ya, those dumplings did not last long!

Dumpling Making Party

I mean look at them!

Briana made a special dumpling dipping sauce for everyone to enjoy with soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and green onion. It was very good and perfect drizzled over those warm dumplings fresh from the steamer.

Dumpling Making Party

After a few rounds of dumplings, we also enjoyed a vegetable stir-fry.

Dumpling Making Party

And for dessert – I ate my first fresh lychee. They were much easier to peel than I expected. Once you got it started, it came off pretty easily.

Dumpling Making Party

And check out my new friend. It’s Beto the beta fish. Isn’t he cute?

Thank you, Briana, for the fun dumpling making party! I can’t wait to make (and eat) more!

Meaty Pizza and Vegan Dessert

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Hubby and I had a great date night on Friday…

Brixx Pizza

We wanted to take Bailey with us, so we hit up Brixx since we knew we could bring him to their patio. We split a spinach salad (that’s half pictured!) and a pizza. We shared a half BBQ chicken and half 4×4 (4 meats and 4 cheeses). We also tried a couple new beers with a beer flight. Brixx has my favorite version of BBQ chicken. I know they didn’t invent it, but I really like their take on it. I compare all other BBQ chicken pizzas to theirs. We’d never tried the 4×4 before, but hubby especially loved it. I enjoyed it, too, but like I said…nothing beats their BBQ chicken for me.

Lunas Living Kitchen Patio

I’ve been wanting to check out Luna’s Living Kitchen‘s new location but just haven’t made it there for whatever reason. We decided to check it out for dessert since I love the sweets there so much. I wasn’t sure if their patio was pet-friendly, but lucky for us, it was! I’ve been frequenting Atherton Mills for several years now, and it’s really nice to see it filling out (especially since it’s with some of my favorite places in town).

Lunas Living Kitchen Menu

It looks like Luna’s has pared down their dessert menu. I think they used to have 5-6 options, but they’re now down to 3. Luckily, two of my faves are still there: the cheesecake and chocolate pudding.

Dulce de Amor Lunas Living Kitchen

I’d never seen the third before, but we decided to try it – the Dulce de Amor. It was four layers of awesomeness. I think it’s a great addition to their dessert menu. Yum!

A latte sounded great, but they didn’t have any decaf espresso beans. But, they did tell me they could add steamed milk to their brewed decaf coffee. That sounded like a great idea, so I ordered one made with coconut milk. I didn’t even know you could steam coconut milk. You can, and it’s good!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

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I’ve been trying to beat the August 12th deadline for the 20% discount code that Spreadshirt is currently offering by getting as many of my designs out of my head and into The Chic Life shop. I’ve added a couple new designs (“Shop Local” and “CHIC”), plus some new products with the existing designs. I’ve had some requests for more designs on the wide neck sweatshirt (pictured above) which looks like it fits in a cute, off-the-shoulder-look. Can’t wait to get one of those myself!

I’ve been pouring lots of hard work and love into the t-shirt shop, so I hope you guys like it! I’m learning all kinds of stuff about the shop, Spreadshirt (in general), and graphic design. Oh, and FONTS! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent researching fonts. They’re so important, and I kind of enjoy looking through them all anyways in a font-geek kind of way. It’s all a true labor of LOVE!

Click here to check out my t-shirt shop. Use code SUMMER14 till August 12th for 20% off orders over $30.

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Thanks for reading!

Workout and Eats Recap {08-06-2014}

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Happy Thursday! I wanted to share some photos from the week so far of the farmers market, some eats, and my Wednesday workout.

Farmers Market Vegetables

Life has been busy, and I haven’t found the time to go to the farmers market in many weeks. I finally went Tuesday night to Atherton Mill and Market, and it was great seeing some of my vendor friends and picking up lots of delicious vegetables to cook later. I snagged some okra, cabbage, a couple roma tomatoes…

Farmers Market Tomatoes

…and some of these colorful tomatoes.

Farmers Market Artisan Bread

I also checked out one of the newer vendors – Carolina Artisan Bread. One of my class regulars, Bruce, has been raving about their bread, so I had to stop by their booth while I was at the market. After chatting with Bill, the owner and baker, I picked up a loaf of the whole wheat to check out.

Okra and Tomatoes

I cooked up the okra and tomatoes (thinking of sharing the recipe) that night to go with some grilled chicken and mashed potatoes (leftover from dinner on Sunday).

Dance Workout Recap

I was actually a little under the weather when I taught class last Wednesday and wasn’t feeling myself until this Wednesday, so I was really looking forward to class! I hadn’t worked out in almost a week, so it was good to get moving again.

Also, I’ve gotten used to looking forward to using my heart rate monitor, so I was excited to get some new stats. Since I got the HRM, I usually get everything on and set up, and I test to make sure the connection is good well before class starts. Last night, I decided that since all the previous tests were great, I didn’t need to do it this time. That was a mistake since when I tried to turn it on just after turning on the playlist, the connection failed. Doh! I had already started teaching class, so it was too late to try to fix it. When I teach, my class comes first, so I was more worried about making sure the music was good and that I was leading the song okay. Oh well, now I know to keep doing that HRM test before class! I’m pretty sure I burned more than 13 calories. Based on my past reads, the estimated calories burned was more like 600-ish. Not bad!

Here’s my Wednesday playlist:

  1. Rain Over Me
  2. Born This Way
  3. Que te Pica
  4. Locked Out of Heaven
  5. Tempted to Touch
  6. Boomerang
  7. Tusty
  8. Blue Jeans
  9. Ven Conmigo
  10. Break Your Heart
  11. Battlefield
  12. Adrenalina
  13. Let’s Go
  14. Bend Over
  15. I’ll Be There

I was feeling tired from the work day, but dance recharged me. A night with dancing is a good night!

Salad with Tomatoes

I had planned out an easy and pretty quick dinner. Hubby cooked pasta while I was at class, so when I came home, I just had to assemble a salad with those farmers market tomatoes.

Baked Ziti

I mixed the pasta with some leftover meat sauce from Monday’s spaghetti dinner and topped it with slices from a ball of mozzarella. The pasta baked while I got settled in for the night. I had a slice of the yummy artisan whole wheat bread on the side.

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I added some new designs to my t-shirt shop. Remember – you can save 20% on orders over $30 with code SUMMER14 (through August 12).

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Thanks for stopping by!

Food Dudes, Bonnie’s Bagels, Rundown Cafe {Outer Banks, NC}

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While Duck, NC wasn’t terribly far from our beach house and I loved our visit to the area, here are some of my favorite restaurants from the more central Outer Banks, NC area, which was closer to our beach house: Food Dudes, Bonnie’s Bagels, and Rundown Cafe.

Food Dudes - Outer Banks, NC

We went out to Food Dudes (link is to their Facebook Page) to celebrate my nephew’s birthday. This restaurant is in a tiny strip mall area on a road next to the beach in Kill Devil Hills, NC. The restaurant has a great, casual beach shack kind of feel. The upside is the food is delicious and the service is really friendly. The downside is that the inside of the restaurant is tiny. I think I counted about five four-top tables, plus a bar with about 8-10 seats. If you can get a seat here, it’s worth it! We tried a couple appetizers, which the whole family loved. I especially liked the cold shrimp rolls, which were really refreshing. For my entree, I had the mahi mahi plate. Our waitress even told me the fish was local! Major bonus points! It certainly tasted fresh, and I loved the crispy breading on the outside. The plate also came with a spicy slaw and waffle fries. I had hard cider to drink. This was one of the meals I thought about a couple times over the trip. I found myself wanting to go back to enjoy it again, it was that good!

Bonnie's Bagels - Outer Banks, NC

As you guys know, I’m a big fan of bagels, so I was thrilled to find a bagel shop baking fresh bagels close to our beach house – Bonnie’s Bagels in Kitty Hawk, NC.

Bonnie's Bagels - Outer Banks, NC

Bonnie’s Bagels had many stellar reviews online, so I was excited to check the place out. The restaurant definitely had a laid back feel. I even saw one surfer dude come in without shoes to order take-out! In addition to bagels, they offer a variety coffees and lattes, which the online reviews said were great. Paired with wi-fi, this could be a fun place to hang out if you’re looking for a coffee and wi-fi spot. I thought about coming back here myself to do some blog work.

Bonnie's Bagels - Outer Banks, NC

We ordered bacon, egg, and cheese bagels on whole wheat everything with a cinnamon bun. The sandwiches were delicious. You wouldn’t think that such a sandwich would be that special since you can get one almost anywhere, but I really liked Bonnie’s Bagels take on it. They had to-order fried eggs with just the right amount of salt on top, and the cheese was melted right into the bagel. It was delicious all the textures were spot on. If only I had one right now to enjoy whilst writing this blog post before work! The cinnamon bun was great, too. The layers were thick in size, but light in bite. Good thing we only got one to share, though. It was big!

Rundown Cafe - Outer Banks, NC

We hit up the Rundown Cafe and Tsunami Bar in Kitty Hawk, NC for lunch one day. This restaurant had a great, playful atmosphere.

Rundown Cafe - Outer Banks, NC

I love how creative they got with the anti-slippage tape on the steps (at least that’s what it looks like it is!).

Rundown Cafe - Outer Banks, NC

We opted to eat upstairs, which is where the tsunami bar is. We almost ate outside, but it was pretty warm.

Rundown Cafe - Outer Banks, NC

Look at the view, though!

Rundown Cafe - Outer Banks, NC

Hubby started with the Rundown Soup (Their namesake soup – a traditional jamaican soup of fish, coconut milk, onions, tomatoes & yams).

Rundown Cafe - Outer Banks, NC

Hubby had the fish bites for his entrée.

Rundown Cafe - Outer Banks, NC

Even though it was hot outside, it was cool inside, and I was feeling soup. I had the fish pho with grilled mahi mahi (which I could have gotten blackened if I wanted it more spicy). The soup came with sriracha and hoisin sauce on the side, which were great additions to the already flavorful soup to switch up the taste a little. The bowl was huge, and I just kept eating and eating it. This was easy to do because it was so tasty. I really enjoyed every bite. It was fun to get a little bit of each of the components in each bite…or to try to, at least! There was a lot of stuff in there: rice noodles, mushrooms, lettuce, green onions, sprouts, and of course the fish. I really enjoyed this soup. I loved all the ingredients, and the broth was really flavorful.

Duck Donuts - Outer Banks, NC

We found a Duck Donuts right down the street from Rundown Cafe, so we had to bring a box back to share with the family after lunch. Mmm…

Check out my other Outer Banks blog posts:

Thanks for stopping by! Do you have any favorite restaurants in the Outer Banks? Leave me a comment with your tips!

FitBloggin 2014 – Around Savannah, GA

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When I attend conferences, I almost always try to maximize my free time on the last day. Most conferences end in the morning leaving the rest of the day with plenty of time for more adventures. Since I drove to Savannah, this was especially easy to do for FitBloggin. And I’m so glad I decided to stay in town after the conference ended. I got to spend some time with some great bloggers.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

There was one shop I definitely wanted to hit up before leaving town – The Savannah Bee Company. I headed there with Shannyn, Kyra, Martinus, and Nikki. We wanted to do a mead tasting, but sadly, they weren’t able to do one until 12:30pm since it was a Sunday.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

Luckily, there were plenty of other things to check out in the shop. The Savannah Bee Company not only has a wide variety of honey flavors, but they have other treats, from lotions to honey-roasted coffee.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

They have a great sample bar at the front where you can taste the honeys the shop offers. I was surprised at how much the honeys differed in taste. The tupelo and winter white were my standout favorites, so I brought a bottle of each home to enjoy later.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I also tried the honey comb, which was really good. It’s sweet, warm, and chewy. I’ve always wanted to try honey comb straight up, so this was a real treat for me! There was also bread, apples, and cheese in case you wanted to make a savory-sweet sample.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

Our next stop was a cupcake shop just down the block, Sweet Carolina Cupcakes.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I hadn’t planned to eat any cupcakes since we hadn’t had lunch yet, and I was still hoping to score some macarons. But, when Martinus kindly offered for each of us to share a bite of his red velvet cupcake, I couldn’t resist. It was delicious, and the frosting was nice and buttery. Thank you, Martinus!

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

{Blogger shenanigans}

One of my favorite things about attending conferences is how you’re around people who are just as weird as you are. Every group has their quirks, and I love the blogger ones. We totally get taking lots of photos of food, photos of people taking photos of food, selfless galore, and other randomness. I love hanging out with fellow bloggers!

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

After a couple more photo ops, Martinus and Nikki headed back to the hotel to catch a tour. I wish I’d had more time in Savannah to participate in one of the many historic tours they offered. Guess I’ll just have to go back soon!

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

Kyra, Shannyn, and I had worked up an appetite, so we headed back towards the river to grab lunch. En route, we learned that the macaron shop was closed on Sunday. That was a bummer, but I was happy to at least have some delicious honey to enjoy at home later. Plus, I had one more stop I really wanted to make, and I had a good feeling they’d be open.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

We hit up the Chart House, which was located in a beautiful stone building right on River Street. We had a great view of the bridge and passing boats. The weather was warm, but we opted to eat out. With the breeze, it was really lovely.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I was torn between two very different options for my lunch order – a salad or the short ribs. I’ve been on a short rib kick lately, so I figured what the heck, why not get those today. They were a little tougher than I wanted, but the flavor was delicious. It was a heavy choice for lunch outside, but it’s what I was feeling.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

{Shannyn, Me, Kyra}

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

For our last shop stop, we visited River Street Sweets. I really wanted to pick up some pralines for hubby, and I scored one pound to take home. The shop had chocolate and original flavors, but I opted for 100% original.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I had to be out of the parking deck of the hotel by 3pm, and the girls had flights to catch, but we had about another hour to spend around town. So, we opted to check out some of squares in town.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

We took a leisurely walk through the squares, marveling at the giant, arching trees with their sweeping branches covered in moss.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

There were historic monuments throughout. You could spend a long time wandering around, checking out all the sites and reading all the plaques. It’s a nice setup.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

{Up}

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

We made it to the location of Forrest Gump’s bench, which has since been moved to a museum, before turning back towards the hotel. Our afternoon walking around Savannah was the perfect end to a beautiful weekend. Thank you Shannyn, Kyra, Martinus, and Nikki for helping me end the conference on a sweet note! Let’s get cupcakes in Denver, too!

I felt ready to head home but also like I wanted the FitBloggin fun to continue. I’d met so many great people throughout the weekend, and I look forward to keeping up with them over social media and potentially to even seeing them in person! As you may have read on other FitBloggin posts, the event was really great for a blogger recharge. I spent the drive home feeling really appreciative for the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful event. I was also really inspired by so many of the other bloggers who attended. I could spend all year hearing their stories about their healthy living journeys.

With my batteries feeling super-charged, I also brainstormed how I could apply the inspiration and learnings of the weekend to make both my blog and life better. I must say, I’m especially inspired to start blogging about healthy living again. That used to be a big focus here on The Chic Life, and I’ve dialed back in recent years. Well, I’m ready to bring that back to the blog with renewed energy. I also want to do more posts to give back and share some of the things Ive learned over the years to help my fellow bloggers as others have helped me. So, long story short (TL;DR) stay tuned for some posts on health & wellness and some tutorials coming up!

Thank you to Roni and everyone who helped make FitBloggin another success! I met so many great people over the weekend, and I wish I had gotten more photos with all of them. To those I met, please know I really enjoyed meeting and chatting with you, even if only for a short time. Hope to see everyone in Denver in 2015!

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Here are my other FitBloggin 2014 recap posts:

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Thanks for stopping by!

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