Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wine and Design

Many apologies for my absence! As many of you know, my day job as an educator keeps me very busy! And we all know what happens in August… Back to School! It's been quite a ride.

Now only was I busy meeting with teachers and preparing, but I was also preparing a certain 5-year-old for HER first day of Kindergarten! Holy Moly… this day arrived sooner than I ever could have expected!


(It's all about the bag and the shoes…)

She had a wonderful day and loves her teachers! We are blessed to have great schools and I know she will do great.

Sometimes when things get hectic…you need to de-stress. A couple of weeks ago, I got had a little adventure with some friends. We headed to Wine and Design in Charlotte for some wine, painting, and laughter.

When you first arrive, you put on your apron and pour yourself a glass of wine and just relax a little. (Note- you must bring your own wine.) Everyone's station is set up ahead of time with a blank canvas (only a pencil outline is provided), a palate of paint, and an assortment of brushes.




Next, your instructor will lead you in starting your painting. For our painting of Tuscany, we started with just the sky and the mountains. Our instructor demonstrated ways to paint each section and he also modeled for us on a canvas. I took pictures at different points along the way so that I could see how my painting progressed throughout the night.


Sky and Mountains

Next, we painted the house-- just an outline and the roof.


I'll admit that at this point, I wasn't thinking this would turn out to be anything special.


But it was fun to peek at each other's paintings and see how we all made them unique. Next, we added trees to our painting. THIS is where it really started to look like something. (Although, my husband said at this point that it looked like cucumbers.)


We then added windows to the house and added some shading to the trees to give them some dimension. I couldn't believe how much better the trees looked after adding the yellow! As you can see, we also added some shrubbery and bushes along the line where the land met the skyline.


Finally, the finishing touches were adding some red poppies to the grassy area and adding some white to the blue flowers-- which also added dimension.


When I finished this last step, I was so proud! I couldn't believe I painted this!


Of course, you must sign your work!

I loved walking around and admiring all of the other paintings. They were each unique in their own way, and we all really enjoyed ourselves.


Ta-da! Group Photo.


If you have never done one of the wine/paint sessions, I highlight recommend it for a girls' night out, a friend gathering, or even a date-night! I had a great experience at Wine and Design! If you visit their website, you can view their calendar and select the evening by the type of painting you would like to do. I really would love to do Charlotte's Starry Night. It's a Van Gogh-esque painting of the Charlotte skyline.

Have you ever done a wine and painting class?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Exercise Adventure: Ashtanga Yoga

I mentioned yesterday that I had returned to Yoga after a hiatus. It's funny... I love Yoga...but I am so inconsistent about it. And since I am inconsistent, I never really get "good" at it. Last Sunday was my first class in months, and it felt so good that I promised myself I would do better from now on.

When I woke up yesterday, I thought to myself, "How should I spend my last free Friday?" (After today, I will go back to working Monday-Friday instead of Monday-Thursday.) I scoped out the Yoga offerings at the gym we belong to, but there wasn't anything for today except beginner Yoga, and I didn't want that. Then I remembered Om Yoga in Fort Mill.

Last summer, I really wanted to try out Om Yoga, but I never got around to it. So today, when I saw there was a noon class (AND first visits are free), I decided to give it a go.

Only one problem: what the heck was Ashtanga Yoga?!

I've taken Power Yoga and Vinyasa Yoga... But never Ashtanga. I called the studio to see if they thought I would be able to take the class (being a little out of practice) and they said to come on and give it a try. It turns out that Ashtanga Yoga is like Power Yoga, but the series of poses and flow is always the same. Sometimes the instructor gives out a handout with the sequence on it to the group and you can choose to follow the instructor or go at your own pace.

I loved the way the girl at the front desk showed me around and kind of told me where I might want to set up. She also helped me to feel at ease about taking the class. The studio is really pretty and SO different from a typical aerobics room.

While I was waiting for the class to begin, I started a conversation with one of the other participants. She said, "Have you ever been here before?" When I told her I was new, she said, "And you started with THIS class?! This class is HARD!"

I thought to myself... "What have I gotten myself into???"

(What's with the footprints on my mat? I must have walked right over it in my dusty flip flops!)

Class began the way a typical yoga class might begin- with a purpose statement. I knew right away that I really liked the instructor. She was very real and calm and funny, too!

Then came something that was way different from other classes. We started chanting! We said a mantra together, and I literally have no idea what we said because I am pretty sure it was in Sanskrit. Seriously, I am not joking. At this point, I was still wondering if I should run for the hills.

But once we got going, it was awesome! It was hard, but I was so proud of myself for being able to keep up! I loved the hands-on personal attention the instructor gave everyone. If you weren't lined up quite right, she would come over and "fix you." I thought it would be weird for someone to come over and push or pull on my body during Yoga, but it really wasn't weird. I promise.

The first 30-40 minutes of class was intense- lots of sun salutations, quick flow. But then we moved to slower poses and finally down to the floor. At the end, I was dripping with sweat!

Then came the best part. Just before the Savasana, the teacher came around and dropped a lavendar-scented, cold wet towel onto our mats to put over our eyes. Umm...can I just tell you that it was absolute heaven? Those few minutes of Savasana were probably the most relaxed moments of my week.

I can't wait to go back and try out some more of their classes, and now I don't have to be scared of Ashtanga Yoga any more.

If you're local, you should definitely check them out!

Namaste, y'all.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Cool Things that happened this week:

*Successfully ate Whole30-compliant foods all week

*Taught a fantastic group of teachers in a writing workshop

*Taught some Zumba

*Had a fun and hilarious dinner with a group of friends

*Went back to yoga after a bit of a (*ahem*) hiatus.


Today is actually the last Friday off of the summer. (During summer months, we work 10-hour days and have Fridays off.) I am spending the day catching up on my blogging, possibly going to yoga, getting a massage (holla!) and maybe a little light shopping/errand-running.


Note to the husband...if you are reading...I said *LIGHT*. Do not panic.


Now that we are all caught up, lets talk about veggies. And bacon.


Once upon a time, I thought I hated Brussels Sprouts. Funny thing is...I actually never remember trying them as a kid! So, thirty-ish years later, here I am, not only eating them, but writing about them and taking pictures of them.


One of my favorite ways t eat them is halved, tossed in olive oil, and roasted with some salt and pepper. However, last week I thought I would try a new approach.


They have bacon. Does that interest you? Who doesn't love bacon?


AND there are only a few ingredients!


Bacon Brussels Sprouts



  • Olive Oil
  • Brussels Sprouts (I used about 10)
  • 3-4 strips of bacon (I used Earth Fare's Uncured Turkey Bacon)
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste




Prepare your sprouts. Remove the outer wilted leaves and slice in half. Wash well to remove any grit and then let them dry. Then, shred them by slicing them. (Just place them cut-side down and slice lengthwise until they are thin strips.)


Heat 1 Tbsp. EVOO in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey bacon. (Note- my uncured turkey bacon produces very little bacon fat. If you use a fattier bacon, you may not need as much oil- or you may not need any.) Cook turkey bacon until browned and crisp and then set aside. Leave any bacon drippings in the pan.


Add the Brussels and start to sauté. While the sprouts are cooking, chop the bacon into smaller pieces. Then add the bacon back to the pan. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder over the mix and cook until the sprouts are tender. Serve hot!


Happy weekending!