10.11.2017

Maple & Pine at The Quirk Hotel

One of my favorite things about living in the nation's capital is that there are so many places to visit within a half-day drive or less. Cities like Richmond, where I recently traveled for a girls getaway with my friends Jenn and Laura. I had yet to visit Virginia's capital in the 5+ years I've lived in DC, so when we got an invitation to come down and explore the city, we happily accepted.

Nearly everyone we asked recommended that we stop in The Quirk Hotel while in town. Not only to see its charming decor and have a drink at the Q Rooftop Bar, but for the restaurant it welcomes you with in the main lobby, Maple & Pine.



Maple & Pine boasts a bright and airy atmosphere, with an almost Mad Men era decor that Elle Woods would appreciate.



The designer of the space found a way to make even the pops of pink gender neutral; rich wood floors, black wrought iron finishes, and white marble tables with accented furniture fill the room.





Equally as impressive, the food does a good job of complimenting the atmosphere. A menu comprised of vibrant and colorful dishes that are both visually appealing and fulfilling.

We started our Saturday morning brunch with a round of mimosas and an off the menu dish, Cheddar Cheese Grits with a Poached Egg and Pork Belly. Surprisingly enough, this was my first time trying a poached egg. Not sure why it took me so long to try one, but I'm hooked. I can't stop eating Eggs Benedict ever since (but that's for another post, ha!).





For our entrees, Jenn and I couldn't make up our minds between the French Toast or the Virginia Ham and Gruyere Cheese Sandwich. So, we opted for both and to share. Both dishes were delicious, but the Gruyere sandwich was arguably my favorite of the two.



To round out our meal we were greeted with a trifecta of desserts: Vanilla Almond Cake with Macerated Blueberries and Lavender Ice Cream, Local Peaches Marinated in Grand Marnier with Peach Sorbet, and Chocolate Ganache with an Amaretto Cookie and Coffee Ice Cream. Bet you can't guess which one was my favorite, ha!







From the atmosphere to the decor, to the presentation and the taste, Maple & Pine fulfilled all of my expectations. I happily recommend a visit next time you're in town. And if a full meal doesn't quite fit into the schedule, The Quirk Hotel offers a fast service coffee and pastry stand near the entrance. The chocolate croissants looked heavenly, and I can definitely say the Chai Tea Latte was one of the best I've ever had.





If you're in town only for a night, grab a spot at the bar for pre-dinner cocktails or head up to the roof for after dinner fun. No matter what you're looking for, The Quirk Hotel offers many opportunities to fill your time during your visit to Richmond, Virginia! Enjoy, y'all!



Thank you to The Quirk Hotel and Maple & Pine for having us. A portion of our meal was comped. 
All photos and opinions are my own. 

10.05.2017

A Weekend in Richmond



Two weekends ago, myself and my traveler buddies Jenn and Laura, headed to Richmond, Virginia for a girls weekend. Jenn had been a few times before, but neither Laura or I had. I've been on several trips with these two, so we knew exactly what activities the three of us enjoy... eating and drinking, ha. I'll be honest, the weather was unseasonably warm and extremely humid, thus we didn't get to do quite as much exploring outside as we had hoped. But we still made the most of our trip! Scroll down to see what all we did.







We arrived to Richmond Friday evening and checked into our home for the weekend, the newly renovated Jefferson Hotel.



The Jefferson was exactly what dreams are made of. It reminds me of a hotel you'd see in the South, with lots of marble, stain glass windows, rich fabrics and rugs. It truly is stunning in person. Every single employee of the hotel was kind, courteous and helpful. We never felt lost or helpless. The rooms are also some of the largest standard rooms I've ever stayed in. At first we thought they had put us in a suite. Our room came complete with two double beds, a sitting area, walk-in closet with vanity area and a massive bathroom with tub and shower. It honestly felt like we were staying in someone's home, ha. The mirror in the bathroom even came with a built in TV. Probably the coolest thing I've seen in a hotel room as of late. I would take extra time getting ready each morning, just so I could enjoy the Today Show via the TV mirror!





But the one thing that set The Jefferson apart was their attention to detail. Everything from the personal products they offered in the bathroom, to the turn down service in the evening. Nothing beats walking into your hotel room after a long day of work + driving, to find the bed turned down, your slippers and bathrobe laid out on the bed, and a chocolate on your pillow. Truly magical.



After we checked in, we headed up to our room to freshen up. Upon our arrival they had set out a bottle of Pinot Noir and cheese tray for us. The perfect way to kickoff our weekend! [Note, my diet was totally out the window this weekend, ha!]



After freshening up we headed to dinner at the highly recommended Pasture. We shared some fried sweet pickles and pimento cheese (my favorite), and I enjoyed the beef with a grit cake for my entree. Dinner was delicious, but we opted to forgo after dinner cocktails for the wine back in our hotel room. That + Legally Blonde was on, so how could we top that?!



Saturday we woke up and took a few outfit photos before heading off to brunch at Maple & Pine. I'm going to do a full meal recap later next week, so stay tuned. We snapped countless photos at this adorable spot before grabbing a coffee on our way back to the hotel for a quick change.



Changed and feeling a lot cooler in our non-fall outfits, we headed to Carytown to explore a bit. The Jefferson Hotel offers a complimentary shuttle that took us straight there. We walked around for a bit, and stopped in Can Can Brasserie for some frites and cocktails. And also, air conditioning. Like I said it was hot. Later that afternoon the three of us headed to checkout the beer trail; a new-to-the-area attraction. We went to The Veil Brewing Co. and then Ardent Craft Ales. Both were the perfect outdoor venue for enjoying a local brew prior to dinner. That evening we met up with our friends Monica and Katie (they were in Richmond the same weekend too) for dinner at Stella's. Another highly recommended spot. The Greek cuisine of pasta, breads and fried cheeses, oysters and more, really hit the spot after a long day of walking around Richmond. We capped the night off at a local rooftop bar.

Sunday we opted for a slower day and to stick around the hotel.



We slept in, enjoyed some coffee and tea in the room, snapped a few more outfit photos (can never have enough), and got ready for brunch at the Jefferson.



The Jefferson's Sunday Brunch is a can't miss. As you walk down their grand staircase into the hotel's atrium, you notice dozens of fine dining tables surrounded by food buffet stations. But this isn't your ordinary buffet setup. There's a breakfast table, full of every kind of breakfast food you can think of. An omelet station and waffle station. Another area full of pastries and country ham. A table full of lunch type items, accompanied by an ice sculpture towering over a tray of seafood. I mean come on. If that wasn't enough, in the middle of the room towered high, was the dessert station. Every single dessert was hand crafted, from the pumpkin cheesecake to the pumpkin and cream cheese brownie bites. I had to try a bite of as many as I could, of course.



At this point we were all extremely full from our weekend, ha! So we packed up, snapped a few more photos and headed back to DC. We truly had the best time!

The three of us had a wonderful few days of exploring (and eating our way through) Richmond. I can't wait to go back when the weather is cooler. Would love to tour around some of the other neighborhoods and along the waterfront. No matter what type of trip you're looking for, Richmond is just a short drive from Washington, D.C. So it's the ideal location for a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Special thanks to The Jefferson Hotel for hosting our stay, and Visit Richmond for assisting with our trip activities. All photos and opinions are my own. Compensation was provided through accommodations and activities. 

9.28.2017

Food Diary for FASTer Way to Fat Loss

Photo Credit


A little more than a week stands between me and the end of my first round of FASTer Way to Fat Loss. For the past 6+ weeks I've been sticking to a meal + fitness routine. I explained why I started this program in this post, and gave y'all an almost half way through update in this one. The one question many of you have asked me is: what is your meal plan like?

I thought it'd be easiest to answer that question by sharing a breakdown of a typical week. I'm sharing my tips + some of my favorite brands below. And if you're interested, the next round starts October 9th!! You can sign up with my trainer Val, here. I'll be doing this next round too and would love to do it with some of y'all! Would be great motivation and encouragement :)

A few notes before we begin:
  • Typically the days are the same each week, food wise. Some weeks a juice cleanse or all day fast are added (which is 100% optional). But that's only about two days during the entire program. So, we'll just follow a typical week for this post's sake. 
  • Calories are tabulated through the My Fitness Pal app. During the Prep Week (first week of the round, so this program is technically 7 weeks) you'll learn more how to log your daily food and how many calories you should be consuming. For my case, 1620 is the total amount of calories I should consume each day.
  • Each day you break your FAST at around noon. You want to work your body down to an 8hr feeding window each day. The longer your body is in a FASTed state, the more calories you'll burn. You won't start out doing this your first week. You will gradually work towards this. Took me about two weeks into the program for my body to adapt. 
  • I highly recommend these wireless headphones for your workouts. I learned early on that a cord getting in the way was less than ideal. 
  • The last piece of advice is make sure you consult your doctor and/or dietitian. I am no expert. And after an entire juice cleanse debacle where I had to quit for health reasons, I learned the lesson that I should have consulted someone and did more research first. Same goes with any aspect of this (or any) program. Just do what is best for you, your body and your health. 




Monday and Tuesday
Low Carb + Sprints

On Mondays and Tuesdays I will typically do my workout before work. These days consist of sprint intervals, usually on an elliptical, bike or treadmill + some light abs. These workouts are designed to get your heart rate up, so you burn fat and sweat out the toxins. I'll drink anywhere from 32-50oz of water during and after my workout, till I break my FAST at noon. I'll have a 12oz black coffee anytime during the morning. Black coffee or herbal tea will not break your fast. You can also have creamer and sugar, just make sure it's under 50 calories and be sure to log it in your food diary. 

At around noon (or sometimes later if I'm not hungry yet) I'll have my protein shake. I prefer the taste of CalNaturale Svelte Organic Protein Shake. You can get them from Amazon and they come in many flavors. This one tastes just like a chocolate milkshake (I'm not lying)! 

Then around 2:00pm or so I'll have "lunch." Which is usually a cobb salad or honey roasted turkey with a low-carb wrap, lettuce and chipotle mayo. The Mission Carb Balance wrap is perfect for low carb days, as it's only 4 net carbs (carbs minus fiber). My favorite cobb salad is from Au Bon Pain; the Chicken Avocado Cobb with Avocado Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing. So, so tasty. Another option is low fat or light chicken salad. I LOVE the one from Territory Foods. It's very tasty and high cal, which helps get your calorie intake in for the day. This can be hard sometimes on low carb days.

Snacks on low carb days: cucumber and hummus, roasted almonds, hard boiled eggs, low carb protein bars, herbal tea, salami, prosciutto or low cal cheese. Yes, I still eat cheese and meat!! 

For dinner I have been eating a lot of shrimp, tilapia or salmon. I love blackened tilapia. I'll pair with brussels sprouts, roasted broccoli or a side salad. 

The main point of low carb day is to stay under 50 net carbs (carbs minus fiber). The more fiber you consume, the more carbs you can have. Just be very careful with this, ha. When using the My Fitness Pal app, it'll track all of this for you. So you can easily plan out your meals a week in advance. Make sure you also note that fruit, veggies and gluten free snacks STILL HAVE CARBS. Read your labels carefully and play around with the MFP app. 

Wednesday and Thursday
Regular Calorie + Strength Training

Yesssss, now we can have carbs! I usually do these workouts in the evenings after work, as they can take a little bit longer. Strength training days consist of lifting weights and abs. One day you'll focus on legs and back, the other day you'll focus on arms and abs. The beauty of this program is that you're given workouts for at home, at the gym or beginner level. So you don't have to be a pro or have a gym membership. I bought weights and a yoga mat from TJMaxx so I can do these workouts in my apartment. 

I'll sleep in these mornings to rest up, but continue consuming lots of water and coffee till I break my fast at noon. I'll usually break this with a Dannon Light & Fit Strawberry Greek Yogurt (only 80cals) + add a scoop of Kashi Berry Crunch (my absolute favorite). This makes it like granola in your yogurt. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, ha! 

For lunch I'll have either a salad from Sweetgreen, another Territory Foods meal, a turkey sandwich (yes I still eat bread and gluten) with an apple (cutting out the potato chips is key), or leftovers from dinner the night before. Sometimes if I have a big "breakfast," I'll opt for a smoothie from the Protein Bar or Jamba Juice.

Snacks for regular calorie day: Grab the Gold Bars (high protein and taste like peanut butter crunch), almonds, rX bars, fruit of any kind, protein bars, almonds, pretzel crisps and hummus, cheese, blue corn chips and salsa, avocados, etc. 

For dinner I'll either make gluten free pasta with ground turkey meat sauce (the quinoa and brown rice pasta from Trader Joe's is 100% my fave and tastes just like pasta. Corey even tried it and says it tastes no different), have another fish with veggies, chicken and sweet potato fries (love sweet potatoes!!), or another Territory Foods meal. 

The key for regular calorie day is balancing your macros (which again, you can do in the My Fitness Pal app). Macros are 50% carbs, 30% fat (mostly good fats like avocados), and 20% protein. Based on what you eat throughout the day, you want to hit these macros as close as you can. You don't want to eat too many carbs or too much fat. You can still have cheese, bread and wine!! Just make sure it's factored into your macros and you're still eating enough substantial food for your workouts. 

Fridays and Sundays
Low Calorie + Active Rest Day

On Fridays and Sundays you focus on low calorie and active rest. Meaning, you still focus on hitting your macros but you eat 25% less calories. So for me, I consume 1620 calories each day (or I try to). On low cal day, I focus on eating 1215 calories. I consume a lot of the similar foods I have on regular calorie day. And for the active rest you can either do a yoga class, light jog or run around your neighborhood or at the gym, a long stretch session, spend time in the sauna or just rest, ha. It's up to you!

Saturday
Strength Training Day Calories + Leg Day

Saturdays I'll be honest are the hardest workout. BUT I love that it falls on a Saturday. I'll take my time waking up, have some coffee and water, and hit the gym around 10:00am. There's usually no one in my apartment building's gym at this time. Leg Day focuses on a lot of speed intervals with lunges, leg exercises and high intensity abs. I crushed last week's!! It took me about 4 weeks to really do the workout and finish it entirely. So don't get discouraged in the beginning. 

The best part is, if you crush the workout you can enjoy 25% MORE CALORIES!! These are the days you'd consume that breakfast bagel, cupcakes or lots of bread, beer or wine, etc. Obviously still stick to your macros for the day, but you can consume more calories. Ideally you eat your "reward food" right after the workout. For me, that's definitely Chick-Fil-A, a blueberry bagel from Bethesda Bagels or game day food. It's perfect this day falls on a Saturday, because resisting game day snacks is next to near impossible, ha. 



Okay, so I know that's a TON of information. And I won't lie, I was super overwhelmed at first. But, you totally catch on quickly. Plus, that's why you start with a prep week. Gives you seven days to try out the program, ask questions and get into a routine. Which was super helpful to me and a large reason that I've stuck with this program. I have really good days, and some days I just can't stop snacking on the pumpkin crunch caramel corn at work. It happens. It's about balance. And for me, I have consistently worked out 4-5 days a week for the past five weeks. That's a HUGE win for me. 

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to email me or comment below. Happy to help! And don't forget to signup to do the next round with me. I'm very excited to kick off my second round, and plan to focus on discovering more recipes and building up my strength in the gym.


9.21.2017

Packing List for Richmond

Richmond Packing List




This weekend I'm heading down to Richmond, Virginia for a fun girls weekend with Jenn and Laura. I've never been to Richmond, but it has been on my "must visit" list since moving to DC. It's only about a two hour drive from DC, so it makes for the perfect quick weekend getaway. We're leaving tomorrow afternoon and will be doing a media visit with Visit Richmond and the newly renovated Jefferson Hotel. I've heard nothing but great things about the Jefferson Hotel, and we've had tons of friends share their must do's in Richmond. We'll be visiting The Quirk Hotel's rooftop one evening and restaurant for brunch on Saturday, eating all the Southern food we can, maybe stopping by a brewery and shop around some of the stores in town. Anything you've done that we can't miss?

I started shopping for this trip a few weeks back when the weather started to feel like fall. I even switched my closet over last weekend thinking the cooler temps were here to stay. Well, I totally jinxed myself cause, at least for the next week or so, temps are well back into the mid 80's. Especially for this weekend. So I'm totally having to rethink the items I planned to take with me. Right now I'm trying to find the balance of dressing for fall and utilizing some of the new pieces I got, and being comfortable in the heat. Above are some of the items I'll definitely be packing. My focus will be on layers; pairing dresses with a denim jacket for the cooler mornings. Booties are still a go, as well as fall colored accessories.

Be sure to follow along on our trip via Instagram Stories. I'll be sharing all the behind the scenes + snippets from our visit, there. Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Special thanks to the Jefferson Hotel and Visit Richmond for sponsoring our trip.

9.15.2017

The Weekender, Vol. 10



Now that football season is in full swing, my weekends have and will be consisting of game day Saturdays and NFL Sundays. I'm not mad about it. Tomorrow is a HUGE game for Tennessee. We play the Florida Gators. Probably our most rivaled and hated SEC football team. All in good fun though (unless we lose, ha!). This season thus far has been twice the fun, as I've adopted a second team to cheer for. Corey's alma mater, Clemson Tigers. Thankfully I am not venturing away from my favored orange AND lucky that he's not a fan of another SEC team. It has been fun cheering for them.

To kickoff the season and get Corey excited for the National Champ's new season, I wanted to put a fun gift together for him. I call it his "football bucket." I found this metal Clemson ice bucket on Amazon, and then filled it with his favorite things. A new Smathers & Branson belt, his favorite drink of choice and Clemson tumbler to drink it in, and some odds and ends from Swoozies and Country Club Prep. I had so much fun putting this together. It's an idea y'all can use for any occasion or holiday. You don't have to go quite as pricey with the items either. Just find a base (box, bucket, bag, etc.) and add his/her favorite things. A simple way to dress up any present.

He (and I) will be using some of these items this weekend as Clemson takes on Louisville. College Game Day will be there, so I'm sure our morning tomorrow will consist of coffee, breakfast and lots of ESPN.

Hope y'all have some fun weekend plans ahead! Before you go, checkout 10 links I'm loving. Happy Friday, friends!

  • I love anything fall, food included. Checkout these delicious fall apple recipes from Carly.
  • Getting all the fall feels from Sole Society's new arrivals. So many beautiful colors and styles.
  • I'm already counting down the days till Chip and Joanna's new line launches at Target. You better believe I'll be first in line to shop all the pieces. 
  • How amazing are these leopard-print pants?! I love the navy and black combo.
  • Nordstrom is launching a new store. One that won't have a single article of clothing in it. Read more on their newest venture, here
  • These floral print flats are perfect for fall! The print is almost identical to these that I shared with y'all last month. 
  • For my DC friends, I'm super excited for the newest Kendra Scott location to open in Georgetown. The soft opening is Saturday, September 30th. They'll have sips, sweets, and a free gift with purchase. Hope to see y'all there!
  • Definitely purchasing this top for my trip home to Tennessee next month. It would be perfect to wear to the football game vs. South Carolina. 
  • Thinking I need to add this embellished bag to my closet for fall. Love a good pop of emerald green!
  • How fun are these sneakers?! I am on such a sneaker kick lately (pun intended, ha!).