Something Local: Date Nights

date night

I have been living in the Orlando area for almost 8 years and in that time have done my fair share of searching for cool and trendy spots for weekend (and week day) date nights. There are only so many times you can visit the same restaurants and the same bars before you start to get tired of the routine. Here are some Orlando date night suggestions that you may not yet have explored:

Restaurants-

Pig Floyd’s: Mills has become one of my favorite gastronomy strips in Orlando as it has so much culturally inspired cuisines, many of which with an Asian flare. Pig Floyd’s is a BBQ joint that is small but intimate and rustic with great brews on tap as well as a wide outdoor seating areas for those warm Florida nights. The food is not only some of the best BBQ I have had as it practically melts in your mouth, but is packed with wonderful, fresh flavors of Asian and Indian influence. My recommendation, especially if you like an Indian flare, would be the Chicken Masala Tacos- doesn’t sound like BBQ but it is pure awesomeness.

Hawkers: Another Mills restaurant that, like Pig Floyds, is very reasonably priced, especially for the amazing food that they offer, but also has a bit of an Indian flare to their Asian fare. I have ordered something new every time and have yet to be disappointed. They also have a great (and wide) variety of craft beers and wines. Although it may take some time to get a table on a weekend night as they do not except reservations and it is a popular joint, the wait is well worth it! My recommendation for one of their lite bites to start things off are their boiled pork pot stickers.

K Restaurant: K is located in College Park and, although it can be a bit pricey, the food and staff are full of personality and great flavors. Every time I have eaten at K I have always had a waiter that has made me laugh and elevated my experience. A great thing about K is that you can BYOB for a small corkage fee. It is a beer and wine only restaurant but, if you bring your own favorite bottle of vino, it can really cut down on the overall all cost of the meal. My recommendation would be the Mac n’ Cheese, like velvet on your tongue.

Enzo’s: If you are looking for great, homemade Italian food with a view, visit Enzo’s on the Lake- technically in Longwood. It is a family owned and operated restaurants that has just about any kind of Italian dish you could ask for. It is always crowded so, like K, it is good to make a reservation in advance. If you are a pasta fan their Bucatini Alla Enzo is a melt in your mouth dish with salty pockets pf prosciutto perfection.

Bars-

BART: Although it has a bit of a hole in the wall look, BART on Mills features craft and microbrew beers as well as great art from local artists draped on its walls and video games from the 60’s and 70’s.

Quantum Leap Winery: Although I have yet to try this place out, it has made it on my list of to do’s in the area. Quantum Leap is Florida’s only sustainable winery and not only does it offer wonderful wines but also offers various local food trucks and live music on certain nights.

Imperial Washburn Imports: Located in the Ivanhoe Village, on your way to downtown Orlando, this place has a personality unlike any bar I know. Imperial features furniture, often rustic in nature and made of reclaimed wood with an Asian twist that has been imported from across the globe. Not only do they offer great beers and wines but have also recently added light bites to their menu.

Lucky Lure- Although this bar might have more of a worn out feel, what is so great is that it is completely open up so that, on those warmer but cool nights we are graced with, you can sit down with a cold beer and feel the gentle breeze while being surrounded by great company.

Eden Garden at The Enzian- Like Lucky Lure, this bar is completely open to the great outdoors and provides you with plush green scenery as you are tucked within the trees. Eden’s is a full bar and often offers tasty, themed specialty cocktails for events and holidays. They also have a full menu with great food options. What is so nice about Eden’s is that you can actually take your food and drinks with you into the move theater (which basically feels like your living room) and watch a movie. You can even order more throughout the show. Aside from the scheduled nightly showings, The Enzian also offers Wednesday night pitcher shows out on the lawn beside the bar where you and your date can enjoy a free movie on the big screen and a cheap bucket of beer. How great is that?

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Mommy Means Style

Bey

Growing up I admired my mother’s style. That is not to say that her closet was not adorned with a few hidden gems that she had been holding onto since she was in her twenties including blazers with thick shoulder pads, silk neck ties with elaborate prints and argyle sweaters in mint condition. All in all my mother always took pride in her appearance, trying to stay up with the latest trends while blending in some of her out touches and flare from her 70’s and 80’s phases.

As I have grown older I hear her more and more mention how clothes are just too young for her. I get more calls from her telling me she has shipped me another box of clothes that she feels she has “out grown” than I could have imagined as a little girl (who often times tried to borrow these clothes but always somehow getting caught in the act). Her fear of looking “too young” and “not dressing her age” lead me to some investigation. With social media being on an up and up, more and more mothers of all ages, are creating lifestyle blogs. These blogs do not just include activities to do with your children and clean eating habits, they also focus on clothing and keeping a sense of style that is true to you even with a toddler on your hip.

Here are some of my favorite mother lifestyle blogs that will help to inspire everyday women and mothers even on the most difficult and hectic of days.

YEAR OF THE KID: http://www.yearofthekid.com/

FIT FAB FUN MOM: http://www.fitfabfunmom.com/

POP COSMO: http://www.popcosmo.com/

STYLE INK: http://www.styleinkhk.com/

ONE LITTLE MOMMA: http://www.onelittlemomma.com/

KNOCKED UP FABULOUS: http://knockedupfabulous.com/

CUPCAKES AND CASHMERE: http://cupcakesandcashmere.com/

A CUP OF JO: http://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/

Your New Running Mate

Running

Finding time for fitness, especially as a parent, can be extremely difficult. Your schedule consists of so many other’s schedules which means that it is constantly changing, making it impossible to plan. Those moments you do get to work out however can be daunting within themselves. Where do you get started? How do you get yourself motivated and in the mind set? If you do not have a fitness partner to push you, it may feel easier to just give up or make it easy on yourself. Well, with so many fitness apps available in 2015, giving up or giving in is no longer an option.

Here are some of the most popular fitness apps that connect you with real people in the area to work out with, virtual trainers to show and not just tell you how it is done, and professional trainer and athlete tips to help you take it up a notch:

RUNTASTIC SIX PACK- This app provides you with a virtual trainer to show you various ab inducing exercises to help you reach that 6 pack goal by bikini season.

https://www.runtastic.com/sixpack

CHARITY RUN- If looking sexy on the beach is not your main motivator, Charity Run is an app that provides money to charities of your choice for every mile you run, walk or bike. Even though your legs might be tired, your heart and mind will feel good knowing that every step went towards a good case.

http://www.charitymiles.org/

NIKE TRAINING CLUB- This app provides you with over 100 workouts for whatever goals you are trying to reach. Whether you are focusing on getting toned, getting lean or simply learning new yoga poses to strengthen your core, NIKE Training Club is the app to use and help you train like a pro with the advice from a pro.

http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/womens-training/apps/nike-training-club?cp=usns_aff_080113_TnL5HPStwNw&site=TnL5HPStwNw-13mFYm9zSihg0KrK1gR.nQ

CODY- If you enjoy watching fitness videos then Cody is a great app for you! In Cody you can select a category, from yoga to weight loss and more and select a coach. Each coach provides a fitness video series of various workouts that will help you achieve your fitness goals will connecting with a fitness community. Although you do have to pay for these videos, you are receiving expert advance that will help guide you through your journey to fit.

https://www.codyapp.com/explore

An Ode to Dinner Parties

Party Planners

I am an old soul. When I was in high school I would invite my girlfriends over some Saturday mornings and cook brunch while playing Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong in the background. I created the Senior Citizen Club with a group of girlfriends my senior year of college in which we would gather together at someone’s apartment, play jazz music, eat cheese and crackers and drink wine. I listen to the local jazz station and NPR on my way to work every morning. You get the picture.

To this day one of my favorite things to do, when I have time that is, is to throw a dinner party for my friends and family. Although I am a major advocate of the supper club gathering as I like to think of it, I have sadly realized that it social art is starting to die. That is not to say that foodies across the country are not constantly thinking of new pop up restaurant themes and organizing secret eating societies. I am sure for them every night is an elaborate dinner party. I am talking more in terms of my generation of 9 to 5er’s. Those in their 20’s and 30’s and work all day to then rush to spin class, take their dogs for walks, run errands, heat up some leftovers in the microwave and plunk down on the couch to watch Real Housewives, or like the news or something.

This is the daily lifecycle of so many of my 20 something friends. They are constantly busy and, when they do have a free moment to spare, it is not spent trolling through Whole Foods isles or planning menus. I understand that I am different as I love to cook. Cooking is where I am relaxed. It is my yoga, so to speak. It brings balance between my stomach and mind. I think a lot of my friends often claim they have no time to cook simply because they do not like to and thus do not want to make time for it. Living in the city you are exposed to so many wonderful restaurants of various cuisines. Why would you stay in and slave over the stove? Why? Because it is essential. They will all one day get married and start a family. They will begin budgeting even more so than they are now and putting more money towards pampers rather than perfume than they ever thought possible. Nights in when the kids are in bed early are ones to savor. Eating out every night and ordering in will no longer be a sustainable option.

So how do we solve this issue of not liking to cook and not really knowing how? My solution: throw a dinner party. Here are some hacks that will make for a fun and stress free night with friends that will help you embrace the arts of the pots and pans:

  • Host with a Friend– If cooking is not your forte it is easy to get stressed in the kitchen, especially if you are cooking for several people. Have a close friend plan the menu with you and help cook. Having an extra hand around not only makes preparing your dishes easier but can make for a fun time before the guests arrive.
  • Stay within You Comfort Zone– If you are not an experienced chef there are plenty of sites online that offer novice level recipes that will make you look like a pro. Do not set your standards too high right out of the gate.
  • Choose a Theme– By picking a theme for the dinner it will make the event feel that much more like a party as oppose to a meal gathering. Select a theme that you guests will get excited about and therefore will want to contribute too. When you see your guests having a good time that will help to alleviate your cooking stress and get into the good vibes.
  • Create a Playlist– For me, listening to music while I cook helps me to get in to mode. Whether you choose to listen to French music and imagine yourself in a quaint French café or Big Band that takes you to the streets on New Orleans, music can really influence how you cook and the amount of love put into your dish.
  • Decorate in Advance– If you want to put up any decorations for the dinner party, do so the morning of, that way when it gets time to cooking that is all you have to focus your attention on. This also includes setting up the bar, which brings me to my next point…
  • Make it BYOB– Dinners parties can be difficult to throw when you are on a tight budget. To help minimize the costs have your guests bring their own alcohol. This also eliminates the time it will take to figure out everyone’s beverage preference and trying to track them down in various liquor stores. As the dinner part host you are supplying the food and the atmosphere. Everything else can be placed on your friends.
  • Delegate the Small Stuff-If you are really on a budget and are worried about the price of food, assign guests light fare to bring. Have someone bring a dip, maybe another a salad or light appetizer and another dessert. This will also allow you to focus on the main entrée and reduce the amount of time it will take you and your co-host to get everything ready.
  • Invite Good Company– Since you are new to dinner parties invite people who love who will just appreciate your efforts. They will not judge every bite and every inch of décor but rather tell great stories, laugh and enjoy the atmosphere. You want to be surrounded by people who will appreciate and encourage your cooking efforts, not get judgmental and jealous because you cooked the shit out of that Filet Mignon and they secretly want seconds.

Three Things

As the weather is getting warmer and the spring sun is starting to shin just a bit brighter, I cannot avoid thinking about the fact that I need to start getting myself into bikini body shape. I am a pretty healthy girl and always watch what I eat (well not always…) and maintain a consistent workout schedule throughout the week. I still feel like this summer is coming out of no where and I am not even close to being ready for it.

Getting your body bikini ready is not only about dieting (I have never been a fan of that word). It is about adopting a healthy and consistent diet that is one you and your body can adhere to and not run away from any chance you get. “Diets” are offered followed by guilt. Avoid the guilt and just start eating foods that fill you up and make you feel great such as whole grains, raw fruits and nuts, lean protein, and plenty of organic vegetables.

I have always found the weekends to be my moments of dietary failure- especially Sunday brunch. I came across this idea for doughnut hole and fruit skewers which looks amazing! To make this recipe lean, try replacing the glazed doughnut holes with plain whole wheat ones (or just plain cake flavor if your local bakery does not have whole wheat). Add a drizzle of local or organic honey or try a light or Greek yogurt on the side for dipping sauce to moisten it up.

Donuthole skewers

Courtesy of: http://sulia.com/inspiredbycharm/f/8d804ddb-b6d6-4845-809e-e08fbbf9d9c5/

When I am at the gym I often get stuck in a workout routine rut and become easily bored of the routines I am working through. I found an article in Women’s Health magazine that provides a series of great workouts for your abs to get that flat tummy you are looking for to fill out that yellow polka dot bikini that is still hiding in your drawer.

Bikini body

Check it Out! http://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/flatten-your-belly

Finally, after a long day of working, watching what you eat, and going to the gym it is time for some much needed R&R. I find so often that my environment is ultimately what inspires me or fails to motivate me to get things done. Days I work from home I have to know that everything is cleaned and in its right place before I can really get my head in the game. My desk is always organized and I usually try to mix in some fun decorative pieces that inspire me or magazines that might help the creative waves to flow if I am caught up in a project. When it comes to reading, I love having that special place where it is just me and my books. Think about putting together a nice reading nook in your home that can not only inspire you to pick up that novel you’ve been dying to read, but your family too.

reading nook

Three Things

It is Easter weekend and here are three things I will be thinking about over the next few days:

1.)Pastels: Now that Spring is officially on it’s way I am ready to pull out my favorite pastels from my closet (after doing some much needed spring cleaning of course…). Embrace the end of winter by incorporating pops of color into your wardrobe such as lavender, mint greens, and baby soft pinks and blues. Adding these colors can be as simple as treating yourself to a brand new colorful designer handbag for all your weekend excursions.

Pastel Handbag

2.) Wedding Season: Wedding season has definitively started and I have already be unfortunate to miss one of the major weddings I was invited to out in Santa Barbara, CA. It was for my best high school friend Joe and I absolutely felt terrible I could not get out there to support him on his special day. Traveling for weddings is not an easy feat when you are a struggling, early twenty something so don’t feel bad if you can’t make it to a wedding or two this season. Remind yourself just how important it is to save up! BUT if you do end up making it to a wedding, check out the brides floral choices as each flower truly has its own significance.

Flower Arrangement

Courtesy of: http://laurenconrad.com/blog/post/explore-the-secret-language-of-flowers

3.) Bunnies: I have always loved Easter for one BIG reason: the BUNNY! I could not wait to get up early and start the Easter egg hunt my parents had set up around the yard for me as a child. All the different bright pinks and oranges bursting from the grass and in between tree branches made me the happiest kid on earth. After the big Easter egg hunt, have a special surprise for your little ones: Bunny Pancakes- yummy and adorable.

Bunny Pancakes

CampStar

camping

Now that the weather is getting warmer, it is time to start planning those family/friend outdoor trips. I have never been much of an outdoor goddess myself. Making a fire out of two sticks and heating up a can of beans-may not be my thing. As a little girl I did grow up going to summer camps and I will never forget those nights we were allowed to sleep outside under the stars. Even though I might not have liked bugs all that much (or the dark for that matter) I was so entranced by the stars that I forgot about everything else. Now that I have gotten older and become more of my own, I don’t think I would be as oppose to camping as I once was- at least that’s what I am going to say. Camping is not just a way to enjoy the great outdoors, but a way to bond with your family and friends on a whole other level. Make a point this week to look up local camp grounds and start planning a trip!

I did some research to find the most popular and recommended family camp grounds in Orlando and found a pretty good sounding list on Yahoo. I do not what to say I recommend them because I haven’t even been to them. I haven’t even slept outside since I was eight, but these places sound amazing and just might be worth your while:

1.) Disney’s Fort Wilderness located in the Magic Kingdom

2.) Orlando S.E/ Lake Whippoorwill KOA

3.) Circle F Dude Ranch

4.) Withlacoochee State Forest Recreation- Crooked River Campground

5.) Orlando Winter Garden

Not sure what to bring on a camping trip? Not that I am an actual expert, but I would saw I am a bit of a Google wiz when it comes to preparing for a camping trip. Make sure to bring a tent that you will successfully be able to put together. I say successfully because I know there are plenty of men out there that want to by the “coolest” one on the market but also don’t realize they are the most difficult to construct. Bring plenty of blankets because the temperature always goes down at night. Don’t forget those sleeping bags and pillows! Collect some games such as corn hole, horse shoes, and cards that you all can engage in together. And, finally, the most important part: the food! Bring food items that can be easily cooked over an open flame or on a mini charcoal grill (if you have one available). I suggest hot dogs or sausages. To elevate your meal and make it healthier, try chicken sausages with maple baked beans. For dessert, duh! S’mores- so delicious!

Foods to Fight Fat

Whether you are trying to loose weight after birth, or you are just trying to get fit for bikini season, here is a list of 15 foods that will help you loose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle to reach a better, leaner you!

1. Eggs: Forgo the morning white toast with butter or bagel with cream cheese. Those foods are just empty carbs that will only make you feel full and satisfied for a short period of time. Before you know it you will be craving a mid morning snack and taking in more calories than you predicted. Eggs are a great substitute because they are filled with protein that will keep you fuller longer and reduce spiked blood sugar levels. You can pair your egg (1-2) with a piece of whole wheat toast and fresh fruit for a full breakfast.

2. Beans: I have never heard of cholecystokinin (cannot even pronounce it) until I read this article on WebMD this morning. Apparently this is the best weight loss buddy we never knew we had. It is a digestive hormone that acts as a natural appetite suppressant that can be found in no other than beans.

3. Salad: This one is probably a no brainer but salads are great for your body because they not only fill you up due to the amounts of roughage you are consuming but they are also filled with vitamins and nutrients. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who ate one salad a day with dressing had higher levels of vitamins C and E, folic acid, lycopene, and carotenoids-all disease fighters-than those who didn’t add salad to their daily menu. Just make sure not to go for those creamy salad dressings or bacon bit toppings as these can take away some of the great qualities a salad has to offer you.

4. Green Tea: This drink not only tastes good but it helps to stimulate your metabolism, causing you to burn calories at a faster rate than normal. Try adding a fresh lemon or a touch of honey to add some more flavor. This drink does contain caffeine so it may not be appropriate before bedtime but it is a great way to start your day as a coffee substitute.

5. Pears: We have always heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about pears? Pears are being recognized as containing more fiber which helps to fill you up and keep you full. Apples come in a close second so if you prefer apples they are still a great way to get your fiber intake.

6. Chicken Soup: Soup may not just be good for you soul but for your belly. Researchers speculate that soup, no matter how simple it may be such as chicken noodle, satisfies your hunger because your brain perceives it as being filling.

7. Lean Beef: For all of your red meat lovers out there, you can still get your weekly intake just in a leaner way. Amino Acids are found in lean meats and fish as well as in dairy products which help you maintain calorie burning muscle.

8. Olive Oil: Never mind the butter, here’s a better substitute. Olive oil is a mono saturated fat that will help you burn calories, not pack them on. Even adding a dash to your milk and cereal in the morning will boost your metabolism throughout the day. Don’t like the idea of adding olive oil to your morning routine? It also works great with vegetables and a salad dressing.

9. Grapefruit: In 2006 a study of 91 obese people found that eating half a grapefruit before each meal or drinking a serving three times a time, helped them drop more than three pounds over 12 weeks! Now those are results.

10. Cinnamon: This spice helps to curb mid-afternoon sugar slumps and can be done so just by sprinkling it on top of your oatmeal or coffee. The USDA found that just one quarter teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower your blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels for people with type-2 diabetes.

UnChildish Weekend

It is finally Friday and time to plan what you are going to do to celebrate the amazing weekend in front of you! I am traveling to St. Petersburg for the day tomorrow and am so excited to visit a new place in Florida I have not been. As for Sunday, it will, and should, always been known under its official title: “Sunday Funday.” I found an interesting, and refreshing idea for a new take on mimosas. Instead of going the traditional route, replace orange juice with orange sorbet. This will not act as heavy and thick as the juice typically does and keep your drink cold. If you are like me and are not a big supporter of oranges, try another flavor such as strawberry.

Mimosas_SOPBlogFor more fashion and food tips, take a look at my blog: http://hayleyandmegan.tumblr.com/

Layered PBB Pops

Spring is starting to peak out, depending on where you live of course. I live in the Sunshine state where, yes you guessed it, it is almost always sunny. I am originally from up north but I have since shed all my fur because I can no longer stand to be in the cold! Down here women have there fur coats on when the temperature hits 55 degrees, and the gloves and scarves come out at about 60. It is most definitively heating up in Florida and on some days I am in need of a cold, delicious retreat.

I found a recipe for this delicious dessert while trying to find a way to curb my peanut butter craving. This dessert is for Peanut Butter Brittle Ice cream Pops- the name itself makes your mouth begin to tingle. The best part about this recipe is that it is simple and actually a fun activity that can be done with a group of girlfriends, your children, or maybe even a unique date night.

Here is all you need: fudge sauce, roasted salted peanuts, reeses candy, peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, paper cups, and Popsicle sticks.

peanut-butter-ice-cream-pops-17

To make these delicious delights here’s what you do:

Make sure the ice cream is nice and soft so it is easy to spoon into your paper cups; let the container sit out on the counter for about 5-10 minutes

Finely chop the roasted salted peanuts and place them in the bottom of your cup

Roughly chop the Reese candy (you can chop these into as large or small pieces as you would like)

Heat up the peanut butter and fudge sauce in the microwave ,for fast results, for about 30 seconds each

Smooth the ice cream over the chopped nuts and create a smooth layer

Add the warm fudge sauce followed by another layer of chopped nuts and a smooth ice cream layer

Spoon in peanut butter and sprinkle Reese candy bits over top

Add another smoothed layer of vanilla ice cream

Insert the Popsicle stick so it goes through to about 3/4 way into the dessert; sprinkle a final layer of nuts over top for some texture

Place in the freezer for 2-3 hours and wait until layers have solidified

Now you can peel away the paper cup and enjoy!

For more recipes like this visit: http://www.ohnuts.com/blog/2012/08/layered_peanut_butter_brittle_1.html