FitBloggin 2014 – Around Savannah, GA


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


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!


Here are my other FitBloggin 2014 recap posts:


Thanks for stopping by!

Desserts in Durham and The Honeycutters


We went to Durham this past weekend to visit my MIL for Mother’s Day. We had plans to eat in to celebrate. The boys were in charge of picking up food. Wanting to contribute something (other than a purse I picked out for my MIL at the Green Jeans Sale), I decided to do what I do best – find dessert.

Downtown Durham

My friend Ben suggested Scratch Bakery in downtown Durham. So, I headed to the downtown area, parked my car, and went on a bit of a dessert adventure.

Doughnut Muffins

Ben mentioned that Scratch had something special – doughnut muffins. I was surprised to see any left since I went 30 minutes before closing, around 2:30pm. I happily scooped up some to take back to the house. But, I wasn’t done there. I thought the doughnut muffins could be more of a snack. I also picked up some cake (see later photo). But, I wanted more. Scratch was sold out of many items, so I decided to get a variety of desserts from multiple places.

The Cupcake Bar Durham

I went on to get cupcakes from The Cupcake Bar. Many of the cupcakes were decorated with graduation flair since there were many college graduations that weekend. I was sad there were no Mother’s Day themed cupcakes but glad the shop stayed open pretty late. I ended up hitting up this spot after a pit stop at…

Cocoa Cinnamon Latte

Cocoa Cinnamon. It’s been over a year since I first visited this cool little coffee shop, so I was excited to make a return trip. This coffee shop was just outside of the downtown area, so it was an easy two minute car ride from where I was. I was a little nervous about finding somewhere to park and then somewhere to sit since the lot and building are on the small side. But, I lucked out and got a space since someone was leaving just as I pulled up. And though the inside of Cocoa Cinnamon is a bit small, they have quite a bit of outdoor seating. I was ready to share a table with a stranger, but I found an open table in the front.

I ordered the See-line Woman – a latte made with molasses. It was delicious! I love how Cocoa Cinnamon has several unique coffee offerings. I happily sipped on my latte whilst working on a blog post for an Easy Spiced Oven-Fried Chicken Recipe. I got to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air, though I wasn’t sure how long that would last. Most of the day, I toted around a Northface jacket (couldn’t find an umbrella!) since the sky (and weather report) threatened rain. Towards the end of my coffee break, I started hearing thunder. Though it didn’t start raining, it was enough to at least have me thinking it was time to head home.

Durham Dogs

The dogs had a pretty good time this weekend, too, and were playing when I got back. Bailey and Chessie played with a new tug-of-war toy, and that was funny to watch. Chessie is goofy and seems to just like the act of playing. Bailey, on the other hand, wants to WIN! He kept pulling the toy away from Chessie and keeping it from her. Silly boy!

The Honeycutters Concert

My BIL took us all to a small concert to see The Honeycutters on Saturday night. They are based in Asheville, NC, and they are an original country roots band. Country isn’t my favorite genre, but I really like some styles and select artists. I really liked The Honeycutters’ music and ended up getting a CD to take home. I guess some people may think I just like Pitbull and Britney since I’m a Zumba instructor, but I like a lot of different types of music. Sometimes, these smaller bands are harder to find, so you need a good reference with the inside scoop, like my BIL.

Here’s a video (see above) in case you’d like to hear one of the songs I really liked from the show – Mr. Cody.

Scratch Bakery Honey Almond Cake

And we may or may not have dug into that other Scratch Bakery treat – honey almond cake – after the show. Yum! I loved the slightly sticky almond topping. It had a bit of the savory-sweet thing going on with honey and salt, which added great balance.

We gave hubby’s mom her purse on Sunday, and she loved it. Woohoo! It was a navy blue Carolina Herrera bucket-style purse with a long strap and gold details. I hope she gets lots of great use out of it.

We had another great trip to Durham and a wonderful weekend!

Hope you’re all having a great week! Thanks for stopping by!

Healthy Hot Chocolate {Clean Eats}


Snowed in? Here’s an idea…

Healthy Hot Chocolate (made with only four ingredients)

Healthy Hot Chocolate

I used hot chocolate packets for many years. They were just too convenient. Open, add to hot milk or water, stir, drink. So simple, right? But not only can you make from-scratch hot chocolate with the same simplicity, you can also control the quality of ingredients and make it a little healthier.

Plus, have you seen what they put in some conventional hot chocolate packets? Here’s an example from one popular, unnamed brand:


What is all that stuff? There are more than a dozen ingredients in that list, and if you’re a Michael Pollan fan like me, you’ll notice you can’t pronounce many of them. Food Rules fail. On top of that, who puts vegetable oil in hot chocolate? I mean, can you imagine making hot chocolate and stirring vegetable oil and corn syrup into your mug? And instead of sprinkling in cinnamon, you sprinkled in a dash of sodium aluminosilicate or sodium caseinate. Yum?

You know what the ingredient list is for the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder I used? It’s:


Yup, that’s it.

Healthy Hot Chocolate

But, then, I started thinking, well maybe they used semi-sweet chocolate pieces that were melted down?

However, here’s the ingredient list for a Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar:

Semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin – an emulsifier, vanilla)

I’m not saying the long ingredient list is bad, it’s just…why would you want to eat that when you can eat hot chocolate made with only four simple ingredients?

(I keep referencing Ghirardelli because I bought a bunch on major sale awhile back, but there are lots of good, pretty clean chocolate producers out there. Check your local health food store.)

Healthy Hot Chocolate

My healthy hot chocolate ingredient list contains the following:

Milk, cocoa powder, raw sugar, vanilla extract

It’s a simple list and pretty much just as easy to make as the kind that comes out of a box. I wrote the recipe for heating the milk on the stove because I’m one of those hippies who doesn’t like using the microwave. But, you can use whatever you want to warm up your milk.

Bottom line – you don’t need those packets once you know how easy from-scratch hot cocoa is!

Healthy Hot Chocolate

Healthy Hot Chocolate {Clean Eats}
Prep time
Cook time
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Ditch the packets of hot chocolate that come out of a box! Clean eats hot chocolate is just as easy and a thousand times better. Here’s a simple recipe that uses only four primary ingredients.
*Vegetarian, Vegan*
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1
  • 1 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons milk of choice (I used rice milk, vegan)
  • 2 rounded teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, optional
  1. Place milk in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place cocoa powder, sugar, and extra tablespoon of rice milk in a small bowl. Whisk until a paste/thick mixture forms and powder is absorbed. Add additional tablespoon of rice milk, if needed.
  3. Whisk cocoa mixture into milk mixture. Heat till hot but not boiling.
  4. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.
  5. Serve and enjoy once the drink is cool enough to safely drink.
The directions above are for a stovetop preparation, but you can just as easily make this in the microwave.

Multiplies easily if you need more than a single serving.


Enjoy your hot cocoa!

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding {Recipe}


I haven’t made chia seed pudding since 2009. The first experience was okay, but I’m not sure if I’m liking it more this time around because I like it better with rice milk or because my palate has changed. I’m thinking the latter is the reason. My love of desserts has stayed strong over the years, but I find myself looking for different kinds of desserts – more made from scratch and Not So Sweet.

I whipped this up on a whim not expecting to enjoy it much, but this was a time that curiosity paid off. From the first bite, I knew I’d made something to enjoy for the next few days. Seriously, I remember taking the first bite and being pleasantly surprised. Like “Heyyyyyy…this is pretty tasty!”. So far, I’ve eaten it straight up, with fruit, with nuts, and as dessert and a pre-workout snack (though I think it would make a great breakfast, too). I love a multi-purpose recipe.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Did you know chia seeds come in two colors? If you’re a chia seed expert, you probably already have both types and are rolling your eyes. But, for those new to the ingredient, it comes in white and black. According to this chia seed article on, there is no nutritional difference between the two, so you can get whichever you prefer or can more easily find. I usually get mine from the bulk bins at my local health food store, but they’ve grown in popularity over the years, so you can find them almost anywhere. And then there’s Amazon prime…which may be going up $20-40. Doesn’t that stink?

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Anywho, whichever color you end up purchasing, be sure to not skip the step below asking you to stir shortly after mixing up the ingredients. Those little chia seeds just loooove to stick together. If you leave the mixture for 20-30 minutes, it will look like the above left photo. After you stir it, it should start looking more like the right one. Much better!

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

This pudding is really versatile. The simplest serving I enjoyed was with sliced almonds.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

My favorite was the chia seed pudding fruit parfait. Yum! I layered the chia seed pudding in between layers of fresh kiwi with some vibrant raspberries on top.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

I also meant to stir some of the chia seed pudding into a smoothie, but I never did get around to making that smoothie. Maybe I’ll make it for breakfast today? I usually soak my chia seeds in a smoothie liquid for at least 10 minutes, so this is practically a short cut when it’s already made!

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding {Recipe}
Prep time
Total time
Chia seed pudding is a versatile dish that’s super easy to make. Just mix, give it a stir, and then wait overnight…or at least for a few hours. You can serve this any number of ways – with nuts on top, as a fruit parfait, or mixed into smoothies. Get creative! You can enjoy this for breakfast, dessert, or even as a pre-workout snack!
*Vegetarian, Vegan options below*
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2
  • 1 cup unsweetened rice milk (or milk of choice)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or use agave or maple syrup for a vegan pudding)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a mason jar or medium sized bowl, add rice milk, chia seeds, honey, and vanilla. Whisk well until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Cover jar or bowl and place in the refrigerator.
  2. After about 20 minutes, remove the lid and give the chia seed mixture a good stir. They like to stick together, but if you stir them now, they’ll stay pretty evenly spread out.
  3. Wait overnight (or at least until the liquid has been soaked up enough, about 4 hours). Serve and enjoy!
This recipe makes a small serving size. I don’t usually eat a large serving, so I’ve been able to enjoy this a few times already. The recipe easily multiplies if you’re looking for bigger portions or you’re serving others.



Chia seed pudding seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it kinda thing. Personally, I’m a new fan. What about you?

Healthier Baked Cinnamon Spelt Doughnuts {Recipe}


When reader Meg wrote in asking if the substitution on the all purpose flour to spelt flour was one-to-one on my baked apple cider doughnuts, I was reminded that I haven’t baked with spelt flour in awhile. I definitely picked up a small bag the next time I was at the health food store. Spelt doughnuts sounded like a pretty good dessert for this past weekend, so I came up with a couple simple changes based on some of the other doughnut recipes here on The Chic Life to make a recipe specifically for spelt flour. The flavor – simply cinnamon.

(By the way, the substitution for all purpose to spelt is one-to-one in the other doughnut recipes)




Healthier Baked Cinnamon Spelt Doughnuts {Recipe}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Spelt flour gives these doughnuts a heartier texture that is somewhere between what all purpose and whole wheat flours would yield. If you’ve never baked with spelt flour, this would be a great introductory recipe. Easy, fast, and satisfying, these doughnuts are a no brainer. You could add a simple glaze on top, but when I’m feeling lazy, a quick dip in cinnamon sugar adds pizzazz without much extra effort.
As with my other recipes, I call this “healthier” instead of “healthy” because I’m not sure what would make a dessert healthy unless it was comprised of fresh sliced fruit. So, let’s just agree this is a “healthier” than traditional fried doughnuts…and even lighter and less sweet than some baked versions!
*Vegetarian, Vegan options listed below*
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • ¾ cup spelt flour (or sub all purpose flour if you’re not feeling the spelt flour)
  • ¼ cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons (preferably raw sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon, plus ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons milk (or sub vegan milk substitute)
  • 1 large egg (or sub flaxseed egg)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush a 6-count doughnut pan lightly with melted butter (or spray with non-stick spray).
  2. In a medium-large bowl, add spelt flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. In another medium-large bowl, whisk together ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, egg, canola oil, and vanilla extract to combine.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined (careful to not over-mix).
  5. Evenly distribute in doughnut pan. Tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Bake for 7-9 minutes, until doughnuts are cooked through (when a toothpick inserted into the doughnut comes out clean). (Mine were perfect at 8 minutes, but oven temperatures can vary, so check at 7 minutes)
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together (or stir with fork) ¼ cup granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon until cinnamon is evenly mixed in. When doughnuts are safe to touch, but while they’re still warm, dip each side into the cinnamon-sugar mixture, pressing and twisting to get good coverage.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

You may also like these other The Chic Life recipes:

And here are more great spelt recipes from around the web:


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Thanks for stopping by!

Kronuts Have Hit Charlotte, NC!


When I heard kronuts were finally available in the Queen City, I knew I needed to find out more…Stat! I learned from my friend Keia’s article on Creative Loafing that Fourth Ward Bread Company was planning to kick off their grand opening with a kronut bar from 6:00-6:30pm last Friday. Naturally, I planned to be there to help celebrate and do some research for you guys.


And, “What is a kronut?” you may ask.

Kronut = croissant + donut

Yup, you read that right! It’s the next big thing since sliced…err…the cupcake.


Located off of Graham Street in uptown Charlotte, this new bakery is centrally located. There is a lot of construction around Graham Street for the baseball stadium, so there may be detours, but they are worth it if you can get your hands on the elusive kronut. Trust me!




I love the open, airy feeling inside the bakery that welcomes you with a big bear hug of natural light.





I left straight from work to hit up the grand opening and arrived just in time to see the kronuts in process.



{Crème Brûlée in progress}




{Crème Brûlée – complete}




I was so excited to finally try the famous kronut. Could it really live up to all the hype? Flavor-wise, I went for my favorite – Nutella. I ordered two – one for me and one for hubby.


However, after just a bite or two, I knew I needed more. More flakey, sweet, doughy, chocolately goodness. More edible happiness.


Just look at all those layers. How could you not want just one more kronut?

I ended up finishing my first kronut and got two more to go (Strawberry and Crème Brûlée). I figured dinner would probably be a good idea, so I went home for savory eats before digging into my last kronut…which ended up being half of the Nutella and half of the Crème Brûlée.

I will need more of these very soon, I can already tell.


But, Fourth Ward Bread Company has more than just kronuts! They will also be serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner most nights, so check em out for all kinds of eats. Grab a nice, sunny spot to read a book. Get some treats to go. Go crazy!

Tip #1: I’ve heard the kronuts sell out in about the first hour of opening, so if you want kronuts, go early! Your dessert-stomach will thank me!

Tip #2: Follow @sugarrmann on Instagram for behind the scene photos of the delicious baked goods at Fourth Ward Bread Company!

Which do you think is ruling the dessert world – the kronut or the cupcake?

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