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!

FitBloggin 2014 – My Day 2 Recap

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On Friday, I was still feeling the nerves from my “adventures” the day before, but I was also really excited to dive into the first full day of the conference. Here’s FitBloggin 2014 – My Day 2 Recap…

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

The breakfast buffet had all my favorites – oatmeal (with a nice selection of toppings), eggs, fresh fruit, and bacon. Yum!

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

Thanks to sponsors like Ninja Kitchen, there were lots of healthy and tasty snacks around for most of the day. The Ninja Kitchen was my favorite because they kept putting out new flavors of delicious smoothies throughout the weekend. Smoothies are always a good idea, and I enjoyed some of their unique flavor combinations, like the yellow one that had turmeric in it.

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For my first session of the conference, I went to Valerie’s small group discussion on How to Organize Community Wellness Programs. Valerie talked about her experience planning events, including what worked for her and didn’t. She led the conversation in a really open and friendly way, encouraging open dialog in the room while also shared some of her personal tips. As the session went on, others in the room shared their experiences, too, making for a great conversation. There were so many people in the room who had organized events like a 5k (or longer) race or charity fundraiser. It was inspiring to hear everyone’s stories about the good they were doing for their respective communities. It made me wonder if there’s more I could do for mine.

Click here to read the Live Blog from Valerie’s presentation.

After this session, I went quickly to the front desk of the Hyatt to see if my wallet had arrived to put an end to my worries still stemming from the day before. Hubby said the package would be there by noon according to USPS, so I was hoping it had arrived early since it was a bit before 11am. I was so worried that the darn thing got lost in the mail or something. Luckily, they found the package just fine. I was just so relieved that the madness of the missing wallet was over. Now, it was time to engage in the conference and prepare (calm my nerves and finish my slides) for my upcoming presentation on Saturday. Eep!

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

Since I keep toying with the idea of making videos, I went to Dre’s presentation on mobile video.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

Dre was like a magician and kept pulling out new tools and supplies throughout his presentation. It was really cool to see how much you could do with mobile video if you had the right tools for the job. Dre talked about getting a tripod, using a bluetooth remote to start and stop the camera, using a microphone, and even passed on suggestions for affordable lighting options. He talked about which tools to use and the best ways to use them. And he even helped troubleshoot for some of the session attendees. Dre put an Amazon list of his equipment recommendations on his blog. The session did leave me wanting to create some videos for guys, but I’m still on the fence.

I actually have recorded a couple videos (dance fitness choreography, shoe reviews, etc.) to share with you guys, but I’ve been way too nervous to actually upload them to The Chic Life’s YouTube account. I don’t really like the way I look or sound on video. And once the video camera (or iPhone camera) is on and recording, it’s like I forget how to talk or act. I’m basically like this. But, maybe one day I’ll work past all that. I mean, if I look at my old food photos from years ago, they’re awful. Maybe that’s just the way things go and you just need to start somewhere and learn and improve over time?

Click here to read the Live Blog from Dre’s presentation on mobile video.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

The lunch spread was wonderful. The buffet started with quinoa and pasta salads. There was also fresh fruit…

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

…and a ton of salad toppings.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

And we also got to build our own sandwiches. And there were Mrs Vickie’s chips at the end with my favorite flavor – salt and vinegar.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

The whole group ate together in one of the larger rooms where we saw a presentation from Disney with a special guest…

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

Mickey! As you can tell from all the cameras going up, we were pretty excited. We learned about Disney’s training camps for kids and about some of their Run Disney events.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

I think most of us know about the princess races, but did you know they have a Run Disney Star Wars Weekend event now? That’s right. It could be enough to convince my husband to start running. Maybe. Just maybe. (Too bad it’s sold out already!)

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

In the afternoon, I went to ESPN blogger Stephania’s session on How to Build a Respected Blog. Her presentation validated a lot of what I’ve been thinking about lately. I used to love to blog about health, nutrition, and wellness, but I’ve dialed back in recent years. My fear was that I wasn’t qualified to talk about these subjects. Stephania pointed out that you can share your personal story and cite resources for information outside of your knowledge/expertise. This is something I’ve been doing to a small extent with some of my recipe posts (like this almond butter smoothie recipe), but I’m hoping to apply it to some more healthy living posts going forward. Stephania also suggested interviewing people who are experts in a given area, which is another wonderful idea.

You can read more about Stephania’s session on the Live Blog about it by clicking here.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

{Photo courtesy of Katrina Elle}

After the sessions, I met up with Katy and also got to meet Katrina and Brendon for some afternoon practice and fun randomness, including dancing, headstands, and handstands. As you can see from the photo, we had a good time. These are some fun peeps! I wish they all lived closer! #headsdownforwhat

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

When I went back up to my room to change, I heard a loud horn coming from outside. A giant ship was passing under the bridge and coming down the river. It probably doesn’t look like much from the photo, but the ship seemed gigantic, like it took over the whole river.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

Later, I headed downstairs for the Friday night festivities. Katy was rocking her new Live Chic tank.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

And another ship passed behind us while we were at…

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

Ignite Fitness. If you don’t know what Ignite is, you can watch this video to learn more. It’s basically a short presentation where you get a limited amount of time to cover each slide. There were informative presentations, but I liked the deep, personal stories the most. Alan’s in particular stood out to me because it was so inspiring.

FitBloggin 2014 - My Day 2 Recap

And what night wouldn’t be complete without a dance flash mob. Oh yea!

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Next up – FitBloggin 2014 – My Day 3 Recap.

In case you missed it – here’s FitBloggin 2014 – My Day 1 Recap.

Thanks for stopping by!

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