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Oh hey, Monday! February 21st

February 20, 2017

Tessa in the woods

I’ve been making changes and adjustments into my daily work and life recently, and thought the blog would be a good place to look at my week ahead, and add a few things that are inspiring me!

  • Have you read this article yet? I’m guilty of a few of these: 8  bits of plastic you can quit right now
  • Ever been to Kitsch in Norfolk? The cute shop is brimming with things made exclusively by talented people who live in VA! They celebrates 5 Years this week, totally cool. I will be the first to admit I rarely get out to Norfolk, but may make an exception.
  • I’m the “social media muse” of the Jr VB Garden Club, and we are finishing up the online pre-order Flower Sale this week. 100% of the proceeds go out to our Virginia Beach community – this year we’re helping the VA Aquarium purchase a vehicle. If you’re local – we’d love your order! All plants are locally grown, and we even have veggies this year.
  • Have you heard of Kirpalu: Center for Yoga & Health? It’s located in the mountains of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. My best friend and I are headed up there in TWO weeks for a R&R weekend of yoga, mountains, massages, SNOW, and seeing my sister (she works there!). We can’t be more excited as we’ve never done a girls trip like this before – have you done a spa/retreat getaway with your friends? Any tips/suggestions of what we should bring?
  • My new favorite Etsy Shop is “TheLittleNaturalist“, Jessie is a homeschool mom based in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, selling humanely found & collected nature objects & small collections as well as resources and items to aid in nature studies and natural arts and crafts for children and adults.
  • Each month, I have been attending a “Well Women” workshop. The last two were AMAZING, and inspirational, with speakers Anne Leonard of The Stock Pot, and Jess Horton of The Fit Petite. Really looking forward to Wednesday’s workshop about “Drama: We Create it Ourselves”. If you’re interested in learning more about this awesome group of women, let me know! P.s. I am the speaker for the March workshop (!!!!!).
  • Since starting my yoga practice at the beginning of this year, I’ve “down-dogged” myself in taking as many classes as I can fit into my already busy schedule. This quick article gives you the 10 Beginner Yoga FAQ, super helpful. (And for those of you interested in Hot Yoga – my “Hot Yoga Essentials” is just 5 items! See below..)

Let’s do this Monday! What’s on your list for the week?
Hot Yoga essentialsA built-in-bra tank (NOT cotton) | A Yoga towel | Leggings (not cotton again) | Ice cold water in a Hydroflask | Any old Yoga Mat will do!


Sneak Peak

September 20, 2016





Location: 89th Street, Virginia Beach

Photography: Jess Hill

Dress: Lilly Pulitzer worn by my Nana in the 1940’s

Weather: Quite windy, thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine



The Basics: Easy Pesto Recipe

August 22, 2016


Pesto and I are like two peas in a pod all summer long. I make a batch at least once week, no joke. It’s an easy and quick process, you can FREEZE it, and best of all, it’s delicious. Growing up, my mother would serve pesto noodles often, accompanied by large slices of my dad’s organic tomatoes. To this day, this dish is one of my top 5 favorite dishes to eat and make. I have struggled for years trying to duplicate my mom’s recipe, and I think I may have finally settled on my favorite.


You will need
2 cups of tightly packed basil leaves (Add a 3rd cup if you like it more “basily”)
1 cup of parmesan cheese (or Pecorino cheese)
2 cups of olive oil (or coconut oil)
Salt & pepper (I leave the amounts to your tastebuds)
1 cup of toasted pecans (or toasted walnuts, or toasted cashews, or toasted pine nuts, or NO nuts!)
3-4 cloves of peeled garlic (Or garlic scapes. But DON’T over do it with the garlic. Trust me.)
Food processor with sharp blade
Tiny spatula
3 small glass canning jars with lids (if you want to freeze it)

Prep time 10 minutes (picking, washing & taking the leaves off the basil stalks)
Process time 10 minutes (make sure you have all the ingredients and supplies ready to go)

Pack the basil, garlic & nuts into the food processor
Blend until it’s ground up (you might need to stop once and scrap the leaves off the edges)
Add salt & pepper to taste
Add cheese (I’ve seen recipes suggesting to add the cheese AFTER you unfreeze it, but I feel like it doesn’t matter)
Start to blend while drizzling the olive oil into the top of the food processor

Use immediately over pasta, zucchini or summer squash noodles or in a quesadilla, or pour carefully into jars to freeze for later!








Creative Union Dinner Part IV

August 20, 2016

Are you curious as to what exactly the #creativeuniondinner is? I’ll tell you.

It is a dinner 4x a year hosted in Virginia Beach by the extremely talented duo of Mary & Zoe. The summer Creative Union Dinner: Part IV was by far my favorite to date.

Think of a beautiful (yet extremely sweaty!) summer evening on New Earth Farm. Starting off with a cooking class on the art of homemade pasta, spiralized zucchini and summer squash and pesto sauce (does anyone remember the secret ingredient?). Then settling onto inviting picnic tables in the middle of greenhouses, beds of gorgeous zinnias, sunflowers & tall corn stalks. Covering the tables (arranged by the lovely Mary), was local decor and place settings from Anthropologie, Seabright, & hand lettered place cards by Amanda Krovic. With a plate full of the delicious food that you just helped to prepare, all the while surrounded by local small business owners who share the same creative vision that you do. Oh, and don’t forget the old tired cat and a farm rooster who kept a close eye on us! Desert may have been my favorite part, of mouthwatering macarons by Rose Macarons.

And the best part of all this? It was my drawing of the dinner that Mary & Zoe asked me to create. One of my first large commissioned pieces!

New Earth Farm


Food Lab w ball flowers

Shelves with jars


Stepping stones

Zucchini and Summer Squash noodles




Becky & Tessa


DinnerPhotographs above were taken by me, photographs below were shot by the talented Zoe Grant (to see more of her photos, check out the post on Bluebird’s blog)! creative union dinner-114-X3

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creative union dinner-91-X3

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The Basics: 5 Tips to getting Slim and Trim!

June 5, 2016

Barre Fitness

Hey there,

I’m guessing that your life is just as busy and full of organized chaos as mine is. We spend the majority of our days juggling children, spending hours in the kitchen, attempting to keep the home tidy, running around town on errands that “must” be done, and maybe you also have a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. job that you’re juggling on top of everything else. We keep our days scheduled perfectly, carefully balancing all the things that MUST be accomplished. Our neatly daily “to-do” lists get checked off, only to have several more added to the list each time. Often, all this busyness ends up leaving out one VERY important element of life: TAKING CARE YOURSELF. I bet in the back of your mind, you wished that fitness was a priority in your daily life. What about that book of excuses on why you aren’t working out, have you used it up? I definitely have. Let me ask you this; How’s your energy throughout the day? What do you consume to keep your body moving? How well do you sleep at night?  What about that little bit of extra “padding” (as my mother calls it) on that mom bod of yours? Don’t worry, I know you wouldn’t change a thing about being a mother and the extra weight that comes with it, I wouldn’t either. But, what if you found a FUN way to get yourself “trim and slim”, something that you actually enjoyed and could commit yourself to go to? A form of exercise that didn’t take much thought and that fit nicely into daily life without messing up your schedule.. What if you could workout with friends? And REAL results that make you feel good? Even better!

So, I’ve been on the path of daily exercise for almost two months now, and I’ve actually started noticing a few little things: I’m sleeping better, I have more energy throughout the day (without chugging multiple cups of coffee!), I’m feeling stronger, and a few inches have disappeared from my waist (!!!!). To say I’m shocked at the beginning results is an understatement.

WHY NOT make a life change to improve the way YOU feel.

Here’s how I started:Cabanas - 2 WEEKS

Calendar 2 weeks1. Start with TWO WEEKS

THIS is where it all starts. Make it your goal to do some form of exercise that makes you sweat EVERY DAY for 14 days straight. Research has shown that it actually takes a bit more than 21 days to form a habit, about 66 days in fact. So start slow – with an attainable goal. Once you’ve completed the 2 weeks, try to finish out that month. Then finish the next month. Keep pushing yourself. Be consistent. I will warn you, by day #4 you’re most likely going to be exhausted… but by day #6 you’ll have gotten over the hump and will be good to go!

Sneaker friends
Dumbell family illustration2. Find your FITNESS COMMUNITY

These are the folks who will help you accomplish your goals. The people that you will see every day. They will become YOUR people, your friends that you see every day. They will motivate, encourage, support, push you to your limits and will help you succeed. I will admit, starting something new out of your comfort zone can be a little daunting. But the fitness community is there to help. Don’t like running? Don’t run. Find something that you DO LIKE. Local gyms often offer two free weeks to try them out (I’ve found the push I needed at Virginia Beach’s HIT & Run). Talk to your fit friends and ask to join in on their workouts. I promise, it’s always fun to suffer alongside someone you like! Also remember, it’s best to do a bit of everything, mix it up!

Kettlebell family at HIT & Run


Pull out that planner of yours (or your icalendar), and schedule exactly when you’re going to workout. How much time will you need to get it done each day. Once you’ve written it down, it’s set. DO hold yourself accountable. DO follow through. If you say you’re going to do it, DO IT.

Quote to self
Hydroflask4. Drink WATER

This my friend, is very important. Especially since you’re working out every day. Make it a point to drink more water. Buy a fun water bottle, and keep it next to you at all times. Continue drinking it, and refilling it throughout the day. I have had my Hydroflask for almost two months, and my water intact has increased greatly. S’well Bottles are all the rage too, and come in fun designs.
No Bad Days

Stick figure family

5. Include your FAMILY

There are plenty of outdoor activities where your family can participate. Ride bikes on the boardwalk, or hike along the trails in First Landing State Park. There are even groups of parents who meet up for all different types of hikes all over, check them out to find your location at Hike It Baby! Have little ones who get tired after the first mile? Not a problem. Put them into a bike trailer or stroller. Hike with them on your back. Why not add a few extra pounds to YOUR workout! First Landing State Park hikeBike ride with kids

What have you got to lose? I challenge you to give it a whirl.


Snapshots: After the rain

May 21, 2016



Lily buds

Lily buds

yellow rose

Roses aren’t always red

White peony in the rain


Clematis leaves with raindrops

Clematis leaves

Clematis flower after the rain


Pea plants after the rain

Pea plants

Raspberry leaves after the rain

Raspberry leaves

Tiny Photographer

Tiny photographer


A guest author post: “Mom’s to Muscles”

April 23, 2016

Creative Union Dinner Table 1Riya & Tara Photobooth Creative Union DinnerCreative Union Dinner photography courtesy of Zoë Grant

A few weeks ago I attended the third Creative Union Dinner at Bluebird’s Garage in Virginia Beach. These dinners are hosted by Mary Kaufman of Bluebird’s Garage and Zoë Grant of Andi & Zoë Photography, and are “a curated networking experience for local creatives that encourages creative community by connecting, cross promotion, and most importantly creating new things together”. This is the second dinner I’ve gone to, and each time I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself! Besides the delicious food and great conversations during dinner, I’ve departed with a bunch of new, cool friends and the renewed excitement of feeling inspired again.

At this particular dinner, I met the Founder of HIT & Run Riya Thorson and her Operations Manager, Tara Lowrey. If you haven’t heard of HIT & Run, it’s a new boutique fitness studio specializing in High Intensity Training (HIT), and they are located on Laskin Road near the Oceanfront. I had been following the studio on Instagram for awhile, but really didn’t know the extent of what they had to offer.

As a fitness instructor myself, I often find that I don’t make it to the gym on the days when I’m not teaching a class. And then suddenly, the days have gone by, my busy schedule of playing “Supermom” has consumed me, and I haven’t gotten a good sweat in. Whoops! After talking with Riya and Tara, my curiosity was sparked, and I wanted to learn more about what HIT & Run is all about. SO, I’ve signed up for their FREE two week trial period (already slightly nervous about those 5:00 a.m. classes), and I also asked Tara to share a bit of motivation on how to “HIT” and “Run”!


Mom's to Muscles Guest Author
Do you push snooze or jump right up out of bed every morning? Do you use an internal alarm clock whether it’s yours, your child’s or your husband’s, or do you use a physical alarm clock like the good ol’, two bell metal alarm clock? Do you always feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day and you’re just exhausted? Well…. Imagine this…Your workout is complete and you’re home and showered before your babies or maybe even your husband are out of bed. Imagine your diet decisions being easier. Imagine gaining 2-3 hours of extra energy in your day. Imagine a clearer head, increasing your ability to perform daily tasks. Imagine not having that “mom” bod this summer. Imagine losing that little unwanted body fat you are holding onto. Imagine your skin looking healthier, brighter and younger. Imagine where the extra push can take you. Imagine all of these things because you jumped up out of bed when your alarm went off. IMAGINE ALL OF THIS HAPPENING TOGETHER. It’s time to lace up those tennis shoes, throw on that workout outfit and Make An Impact with HIT & Run.

Introducing THE BIG PICTURE:
High-intensity interval training (HIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. It sounds too simple to be effective, but science doesn’t stretch the truth.

Riya at Hit & Run collage
IT’S EFFICIENT: “I just don’t have the time.”
Super-efficient HIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule, you HIT it for 50 MINUTES and you run… A play on words, you are working out from warm up to finisher in 50 minutes. (HIT & Run opens at 5:00 a.m., hit your snooze? HIT the 6:00 a.m. class!) You potentially could leave your house, workout & be home in an hour. ONE HOUR! That’s only 4% of your day! Do you want to hear something fun? Research shows you can achieve more progress in a short 15 minutes of interval training (done three times a week) than the girl jogging on the treadmill for an hour 5 days a week. In just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals, it improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training. Using the Tabata training method (we do this once a week as part of our fitness program) you can complete an effective HIT workout in just 4 of the 50 minutes of class.

YOU’LL BURN MORE FAT: “I don’t want that Mom bod this summer.”
Not only do you burn more calories during a HIT workout, but the EPOC effect keeps on giving throughout the day. That means you burn more fat and calories in the 24 hours after a HIT workout than you do after, say, a steady-pace run.

“I want a clearer head.”
Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (that lovely place where you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). But in this case, extreme training produces extreme results. A study found that after 8 weeks of doing HIT workouts, subjects could bicycle twice as long as they could before the study, while maintaining the same pace.

YOU LOSE WEIGHT, NOT MUSCLE: “I don’t want to hold onto hope anymore.”
Anyone who has been on a diet knows that it’s hard to not lose muscle mass along with fat. Most “diets” leave your energy source depleted and you don’t even have enough energy to get to the gym to attempt to burn any fat! Steady state cardio seems to encourage muscle loss, both weight training and HIT workouts allow Fit HITTERS to preserve their hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores. Win/win!

YOU’LL INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM: “I want to age in reverse and make healthier food choices, is that too much to ask for?”
In addition to increased fat burning and more muscle preserved, HIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. This is great news since HGH is not only responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, making you “younger” both inside and out! ‘Muscle tissue is metabolically active and uses energy even at rest, whereas adipose (fat) tissue does nothing at rest. Muscles move, requiring energy, while fat is just storage.’ Increasing your metabolism allows you eat smaller portions of healthy choices for you and your family throughout the day.

IT’S A GIVE AND TAKE: “I’m exhausted & NEED more energy.”
If you’ve ever worked out really hard, the fatigue, the sweating, and the muscle soreness probably leaves you with an easy answer to the question, “Does working out increase your energy?”. This question is more suited for the long-term benefits of exercise, because YES, working out does increase your energy, regardless of how you feel at the end of a workout. You may feel worn out immediately afterwards, but studies are finally coming to complete resolutions showing exercise as an energy increaser.  A simple way to think about it goes like this: when you are physically fit, your body doesn’t have to work as hard doing normal activity (such as extracting oxygen and pumping blood, etc.). This decreases the feelings of fatigue. Your metabolism will be faster, and your energy output will increase.

IT’S SERIOUSLY CHALLENGING: “I need the extra push.”
This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short (JUST 50 MINUTES, TOTAL!), you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is this format offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. You will be challenged, you may be sucking wind, but you definitely won’t be bored!

So next time you think “working out is tough”, or “working out takes too long”, or “I’m too tired to work out”, force yourself to get up and out. Form good habits and your health and energy levels will be greater than ever before.static1.squarespace

Riya & Tara at the front deskAbout the author: Tara grew up in New York, and moved to the beach ten years ago. She and HIT & Run’s founder Riya, have been friends since she relocated here, and workout “swole sisters” for 8 years. Tara is dedicated to fitness and loves pushing people past their limits and overcoming plateaus. And most of all she enjoys helping mommas get their sexy back! When Tara isn’t at HIT & Run, she can be found paddle boarding, riding bikes, boating & spending time the beach.

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Hit & Run exercise objects