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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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Local Spots

Burlington, VT Brewery Tour

July 8, 2016

My friend Anna, knows good beer. As a resident of Burlington, her speciality is of course Vermont beer. So when she asked what I wanted for my upcoming birthday, I immediately responded with “Plan a brewery tour!” Anna quickly accepted the challenge, and whipped up a carefully crafted afternoon of walking through the city of Burlington, tasting delicious beer and enjoying the picturesque scenery.

Tessa's Birthday Brewery Tour

When the day of the tour arrived, the weather in Burlington couldn’t have been better. The sun was out in full force, and there was just the right amount of puffy clouds dotting the blue sky. As my three friends laced up our sneakers (crucial for the upcoming 5 mile walk), we discussed our route and generously applied sunscreen to our arms & face.
Citizen Cider Flight croppedCitizen's Cider

Citizen Cider was our first stop at around 12:30 p.m. We sat inside at a long wooden table with a cool checkerboard (where were the checkers?). Service was quick, lunch (what’s better than a corndogs!) and flights were ordered and we settled in to catch up on each other’s lives. The ciders were crisp and refreshing, and the corndog & poutine hit the spot!

Pine Street

From Citizen’s, we walked down Pine Street, passing cool shops, restaurants and office buildings. Finding a gift card to Lunaroma in my purse, we veered off course for about 15 minutes. As Zero Gravity came into sight, we were greeted by a friendly sea of colorful flowers and umbrellas. The sun was now out in full force, so we positioned ourselves under an umbrella on their deck. Flights and IPAs were in order, service was again quick and efficient (place your order at their bar inside). We watched as the deck began to fill up with people also enjoying the beautiful weather. *Zero Gravity also have a cooler full of their cans if you need a to-go order and we voted that their outside seating was the best ambiance of the tour.

Zero Gravity Brewery

Umbrellas at Zero Gravity Brewing

Lucky for us, Queen City Brewery is directly across the street. We had to wait a few minutes inside at the bar to order, and then headed back outside into the sunshine. The contrast of their outdoor seating area was on point. Between their orange chairs, black umbrellas and the purple flowers (which I think are lavender?), it was extremely inviting and comfortable. We googled the Burlington Bike to scope out where exactly we’d be jumping onto it.

Purple flowers at Queen City

Queen City Brewery Beer

After finishing up at Queen City, we followed Lakeside Ave down towards Lake Champlain and hopped onto the Burlington Bike Path. This is the part of the walk that we had all been looking forward to. You cannot ask for a more spectacular view of mountains, lake and the wonderful city of Burlington. Champ was a no-show, and talk of eating creemees quickly began. In the middle of our walk down the bike path, Anna’s parents scooted by on a tandem bike, which was a nice unexpected surprise!

Champ Lake Monster Sculpture

Friends trains on Burlington Bike PathFlower on bike pathPanorama of Lake Champlain on Burlington Bike Path Lake Champlain

We slipped off the Bike Path to slip into the recently opened Foam Brewers. Because of the nearby Wine & Food Festival, it was packed. Even so, we didn’t wait long and snagged a beer and an umbrella covered table out in the yard. After finishing our beer, we found ourselves at Burlington Bay, happily eating maple creemees with chocolate sprinkles (yes, “sprinkles” not “jimmies”).

Maple Creamee w chocolate sprinkles

From creemees, we detoured once again and sauntered down Church Market Place (people watching galore!) to swing into lululemon to spend another one of my gift cards. From there, it was to Vermont Pub & Brewery for our last beer and dinner. As always, their burgers were delicious, and the Grand Slam Baseball Beer was at the top of the list for best beer of the tour.

Saint Paul Street Building

Brewery tour re-cap:

The milage for the walk was about 3.4 miles. We took our time, so it took us about 6 hours, but if we had stayed on track without any detours, the hours could’ve been cut down to around 4. We also had originally wanted to walk down to Switchback Brewing Co., but decided that it was a bit out of the way and would tack on too much time.

You can buy a growler to-go at each Brewery, and most do offer flights. The general consensus was that flights were the way to go. You can easily sample ones you wouldn’t usually have, since you’re only having 3 – 5 ounces of it.  You don’t have to fully commit.  If you don’t like the beer, another will surely be better. As I mentioned earlier, my friends and I liked the deck at Zero Gravity the best, but sitting outside and people watching at Vermont Pub & Brewery took a close second.

Our favorite beers of the tour included: Lone Wolf, a pale ale at Zero Gravity, the Grand Slam Baseball Beer, an American pale ale, at Vermont Pub & Brewery. Most of the IPAs from each place were delicious as well. All in all, between the four of us we probably tasted about 20 different types of beers and ciders.

I personally couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon. It was nice to “unplug” from normal life, and reconnect with good friends who I don’t see often. The beautiful weather certainly made the afternoon even better.

Cheers to Burlington’s Breweries!

*And, I may have already asked Anna to start planning next summer’s Brewery Tour..


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

Local Spots

A Baby Shower

November 17, 2014

There couldn’t be a more perfect place to host an intimate baby shower than Pasha Mezze’s cozy coffee house in Norfolk. Our small group of ladies really enjoyed the delicious food, our cheery company, and of course the ambiance of this charming location. Their Special Events staff was more than accommodating, from letting us ‘make the space our own’ with decorations and flowers, to always making sure everyone had a beverage in hand–the sparkling sangria was delicious, thanks Brian!

The other hostesses and I ended up having a lot of fun with the details, a lot of which we managed ourselves. My favorite parts were the DIY succulent favors (SO easy to create) and the baby kale centerpieces, surrounded by moss and vintage toys. The balloons came from a block away at Novelties Unlimited and the flowers from Norfolk Wholesale Floral. I also loved how the hand-cut streamers turned out, and everyone had a great time with the photobooth. I bet you’re wondering about the food. It was EXCELLENT. The buffet was a perfect combination of Pasha’s famous dishes (their hummus and kale salad were delightful), along with tasty chicken sliders, assorted fruits, a second salad, and all paired with an assortment of their freshly-baked breads. I am positive that everyone went back for seconds…

Pasha Mezze was a wonderful place to spend a few hours surrounded by friends and family, enjoying delicious food and drinks, and taking some time to celebrate this exciting occasion!