Current Obsession: Flywheel Sports

Phew! It has been a busy week but I am back and excited for the weekend.

Many of you have asked about Flywheel so I am here to share my thoughts! Flywheel Sports is my current obsession right now. If you have one in your area and you haven't tried their classes then I highly recommend you give it a shot. You won't be disappointed, I promise.

You may be asking, "Why Flywheel?" or "What's so special about it?" because I asked those exact questions before I signed up for my first class. But I can honestly say that the environmentthe instructorsthe challenge, and the feeling {after the class} have me coming back every week.

The Environment:

The music is key. Each of the instructors choreograph their own class by syncing the ride to the beat of the song. Not a single ride is the same and I love it.

The Instructors:

They are high-energy and keep you motivated during the entire 40+ minute ride even if your mind is telling you to stop {I have been in that moment a few times}. The Instructors will suggest target resistance levels and RPM's to strive for or give you alternatives if you are new to Flywheel.
The Challenge:

It is all about YOU - your experience, your workout, your performance, your results. The technology that is used will allow you to challenge yourself but also compete with other riders in the room.

The Feeling:

Your legs may feel like jello and your arms may be sore for a few days - I am speaking from experience :) - but the results that you begin to see after a few rides are amazing. It is one of the most rewarding workouts.

While you are there, you should also try FlyBarre. This is a completely different workout - it blends light weight training, dance and core strengthening exercises all together. The environment and Instructors are just as fabulous and most of them teach Flywheel and FlyBarre.

Have you tried Flywheel or FlyBarre?! If so, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Motivation Monday

As I kick-off six (straight} weeks of travel for work, I have found a few great quotes that I know will serve as a constant reminder that I am thankful to have found a career that is not a job rather a passion.
I am dedicating this Monday's Motivation to the Students, Faculty and Administration that I will meet during my on-campus adventures in the coming weeks. 

To the Students, you can be anything that you want to be if you put your mind to it. I look forward to helping you pursue and achieve your career aspirations. Most importantly, don't forget to...Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Confident. Excel. 

To the Faculty and Administration, I hope you realize that you have been a friend and a role model to many of your Students. You have compelled Students to have a lifetime hunger for knowledge that will allow them to pursue their dreams. You have shared with them the importance of hard-work, determination, compassion, and integrity. Thank you.

Happy Monday!! Stay warm to everyone in the Northeast. 

Five on Friday: Raleigh Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week is one of my favorite weeks - I love trying new restaurants in the area and this is a perfect excuse to do exactly that!

Raleigh's Restaurant Week is just around the corner, January 26th through February 1st, so Five on Friday is dedicated to a few of the restaurants that I hope to try over the next few days. I have also included a sneak peak of their Restaurant Week menus.

Driftwood Southern Kitchen: "Neighborhood Dining...Southern Kitchen!" This sounds like my kind of place.
Plates Neighborhood Kitchen: "Enjoy some of our International Dishes combined with our regional Southern flavors." I have been dying to try Plates because I've heard and read nothing but fabulous reviews about the food and ambiance.
Little Hen: "We strongly believe in supporting local farms and putting onto your plate what is fresh, seasonal, and as far as possible, devoid of all that mass production as created." A farm to table restaurant that works closely with our local farmers + it is just a few minutes away from our home (double bonus).
Piedmont Restaurant: "Finding inspiration in the produce, farms and ranches of Piedmont region of North Carolina." Recently, we have discovered a variety of great restaurants in Durham and I am hoping to add this one to the list.
Totopos Street Food and Tequila: "With a menu focused on the capital city's {Mexico City} diverse street foods, Totopos honors the many culinary influences that have converged over hundreds of years." This is a bit outside of my comfort zone when it comes to restaurant selections but I am intrigued.
Will you be trying any new restaurants during Raleigh's Restaurant Week? If so, I would love to hear which ones are on your list. Happy Friday!

Mexican Quinoa Casserole

Happy Wednesday! If you follow me on Instagram {stephaniechalk08}, you saw a sneak peak of our Mexican Fiesta on Friday. Thomas and I are still talking about it because it was delicious and easy!
Mexican Quinoa Casserole:

-8 Ounces of Ground Beef
-3/4 Cup of White Quinoa
-1 15-Ounce Can of Diced Tomatoes
-1 Cup of Black Beans
-1 Green Bell Pepper
-1 Red Onion
-1 Bunch of Cilantro 
-4 Ounces of Monterey Jack Cheese
-1 Jalapeno Pepper
-1/2 Cup of Mexican Crema
-2 teaspoons of Olive Oil
-1/2 Cup of Water
-2 Teaspoons of Mexican Casserole Spice Blend (Ground Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Chile Powder, Garlic Powder and Cayenne Pepper)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 Degrees.
2. Slowly bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the Quinoa and cook for approximately 12-14 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside. 
3. While the Quinoa is cooking, rinse and drain the black beans, dice the bell pepper, thinly slice the jalapeno pepper into rounds, dice the onion, and pick the cilantro leaves off the steams.
4. In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium - high heat until hot. Add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook the meat for 3-5 minutes or until browned. 
5. Reduce the heat to medium and add the bell pepper, onion and spice blend to the pan of browned beef. Stir occasionally for 2-4 minutes or until the vegetables are slightly soft. 
6. Add the diced tomatoes, black beans and 1/2 cup of water. Stir occasionally for 2-4 minutes and then remove from heat.  
7. Add the cooked Quinoa and Mexican Crema to the beef and vegetable mixture. Mix thoroughly. Then transfer into an oven-safe baking dish. Top with Monterey Jack Cheese.
8. Bake the casserole for 14-16 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let it stand for 2 minutes before serving. 
9. Garnish with cilantro and jalapeno (as much or as little as you would like based on on how spicy you would like it).
Happy Hour with our sweet pups! Please ignore that Tenley is sticking her tongue out at me. :)

Weekend Favorites

I wanted to share a few of my favorite "finds" this weekend! 

Favorite Article: An article from the Huffington Post, 12 Lessons Learned In 12 Years of Marriage, written by a Husband and Father of 5 Children.   
Written by Justin Ricklefs
Favorite Quote: A great reminder as we celebrate the life & legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. today. 
Favorite Workout: I am addicted - it has easily become one of my favorite workouts. I'll be sharing more details over the next few days.
FlyWheel & FlyBarre in Raleigh 
Favorite Delivery: A beautiful Bridal Shower Invitation to celebrate my sweet sister. Gorgeous, right?! 
Have a great week everyone!

Five on Friday

I can't believe it is already Friday but I am not complaining one bit! I am linking up with April, Christina, Natasha, and Darci for Five on Friday.

As you know, I am currently working on sprucing up our Living Room. This is going to be one of the main projects this weekend - I am dying to cross this item off the lengthy Project List that seems to keep growing. I will be heading out early Saturday morning to find a few pieces of furniture that I know would bring the entire room together.

My first stop will be Nadeau in Cameron Village - their furniture is a great price point, unique and really good quality. I will also be stopping by Twelve Forks Junction, and Finds in Raleigh. Any other recommendations? 

There is something about Football Sundays that I love and look forward to every weekend. With only a few more weekends left, I am going to soak up every minute of our lazy Sundays that are filled with comfort food and good company. You will find us cheering loud for the Seahawks on Sunday!
Last Sunday was spent with these sweet friends :) 
Speaking of Sundays and comfort food, the menu for this weekend is going to include a new BBQ Rib recipe that I found in Bon Appetit and our go-to Mac & Cheese recipe. I am hungry just thinking about it! 

A friend of mine from my hometown has a fabulous boutique called Lyme in downtown Southern Pines, North Carolina. Yesterday, she launched her website so you can order online & browse all the great merchandise from Designers like Camilyn Beth, Julie Brown and Elizabeth McKay. A few of Melody's favorites:
TGIF! Hurry up, 5 o'clock - I am ready to kick off the weekend with a glass of champagne!

Cheers to the {long} weekend!

Doorstep Delivery: Take 2

As I promised, I would be sharing a few more of my favorite doorstep deliveries today. Enjoy!

Blue Apron is not only one of my favorite doorstep deliveries but my husband's favorite too. He looks forward to seeing the FedEx truck drive up the driveway when we are expecting our weekly delivery. I have to admit that I love going to the grocery store (it is actually one of my favorite errands) but I find myself buying too much or having to buy an entire package of a certain ingredient when I really only need a tablespoon. Do you find yourself doing the same thing?

Blue Apron allows you to select your dietary preferences, provides pre-portioned meals with every ingredient that you need to make the delicious recipe, incorporates the freshest ingredients that come directly from farms and family-run vendors from across the US and there isn't a long-term commitment or upfront fee. Three meals for two people plus shipping, it will cost you $59.94. You can't beat it!
Everything comes labeled and packaged in a refrigerator box. 
The step-by-step instructions make for an easy prep. 

I haven't been able to find a better doorstep delivery that has the variety like Mouth. You can subscribe to monthly deliveries that will satisfy anyone's taste buds. We have our eye on a few of their monthly selections including Cocktail Hour, Cookies, Bourbon and Pickles & Chocolate.
I am obsessed.

We have to show our sweet pups, Tenley and Bo, a little love and the perfect way is through Bark Box. As we are opening up their boxes, they are keeping a very close eye on what is coming out of the box. It could be anything from toys to treats to new doggie gadgets! The best part is that they want every dog to be "happy, healthy and in a safe home" so they donate 10% of their profits to a variety of organizations and events.
Impressive, right?!
Happy Wednesday, everyone! I am looking forward to the weekend - just a few more days!

Motivation Monday: Dream Big

This weekend was one of those weekends where I look back and all I can do is smile. It was spent catching up with family, laughing with our friends, and working on a few house projects with my husband. I am thankful for those moments.

Monday is here and I am ready to make it a great one! My Motivation Monday for this week is focused on creating my professional and personal goals for 2015. 

I accepted a new role as Campus Manager in July - I am responsible for identifying and managing strategic partnerships with top academic institutions throughout the East and Central US. My dreams are big but I know that I can DO IT. This quote has now been framed and sits on my desk to act as a constant reminder to never give up. I have the ability make my dreams a reality.   

One of my personal goals is to make every day better than the last. It is as simple as that. There is always great joy ahead and I don't want to dwell on yesterday. I want to challenge myself a little bit each day, each week, each month to become a better ME. 

I hope your hard work and success make your dreams become a reality! 

Five on Friday

I am excited to join my first Five on Friday!

Do you have a S'well Bottle?! I got mine for Christmas and have used it every day. I am not joking when I tell you that it will keep any drink cold for 14 hours or hot for 12 hours! They come in a few sizes and many different colors/designs. You can check them out here but will have to purchase one at a local retailer in your area since they don't sell them online.
I have the 17oz S'well bottle in this red crocodile print.
I took a BIG risk and cut about 2-3 inches off of my hair yesterday. My nerves were going crazy as I heard every snip, snip, snip but it turned out perfect! I haven't had more than a trim in over a year since I wanted my hair up for our wedding so it was much needed. Hello, low maintenance for a few months.
Last night, we made a wonderful Beef Bolognese dish that I paired with a 2012 James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon. The pairing was wonderful - the Cab was smooth and had hints of black cheery & sweet spice.
I am ready to get back into my running routine and the only thing that gets me motivated is to have a half marathon date staring me in the face. So I just signed up for my 5th half marathon - The Tobacco Road Race. March 15th is going to be here before we know it so I better lace of my running shoes and hit the trails this weekend!

Thomas and I are huge Football fans - We are really excited for the Panthers vs. Seahawks game tomorrow night. But please don't ask us which team we want to win because we have no idea! Since we live in North Carolina, we should be pulling for the Panthers but we are both NC State Alumni and adore Russell Wilson. Perhaps by kick-off, we will make a decision but until then...Go Panthers! Go Seahawks!

Cheers! Have a great weekend!

Doorstep Delivery

Recently, I have been loving the convenience of subscribing to a variety of doorstep deliveries that sporadically arrive at our home. I am one happy lady when I see a package on the porch because I can't wait to see what is inside!

Stitch Fix is a great gift to treat yourself or send to a friend. Who doesn't love a surprise full of adorable clothes and accessories that shows up at your door? All you have to do is take a few minutes to create a style profile and then you begin receiving packages full of the newest brands.

What I love the most about Stitch Fix are the items range in price and you can select your price range, the items match my style very well yet some push me outside of my comfort zone which I really enjoy, you can choose the frequency that you receive each shipment (every 2 weeks, every month or every other month), they price match any item if you find a lower price within 7 days of receiving it, and they provide style guides for each item to help make the perfect outfit. I love it!
FabFitFun is a little bit different than most "doorstep deliveries" because you receive it four times during the year - it is more of a seasonal delivery. The price point can't be beat, you receive $200+ worth of amazing beauty, fitness, and fashion goodies for $49.99.

In the Winter FabFitFun Box, you would have received a Zumba gift card, Daniel Stone Candle, Passport To Beauty Tibetan Goji Berry Eye Serum (amazing!), Justin's Almond Butter, Juice Beauty Peel, Half United Necklace, Salted Cooking Class, and much more!
"OrderUp Some Hometown Eats" - you don't have to tell me twice! OrderUp just launched in Raleigh and I can hardly contain my excitement! I have heard nothing but a-m-a-z-i-n-g things from my friends that have an OrderUp in the area so I can't wait to try it out. There are so, so, so many places in the Raleigh area that I have always hoped would deliver to my doorstep and NOW they do! Check out, Raleigh's Restaurants Here.
Do you have any doorstep deliveries that you love receiving? Join me next Wednesday as I share a few more of my favorites.

I hope everyone stays warms as the Arctic Blast arrives tonight!

Motivation Monday: THANK YOU

I saw this quote this morning as I was walking into my office and it made me stop in my tracks (literally) for a variety of reasons. In the fast-paced life that we all live, it is easy to forget to take a few minutes to say thank you to our loved ones, co-workers, friends, or strangers. It is even easier to not be "present" in the moment since we are constantly able to check email, social media, etc. on our cell phones but we could be missing the special moments of the day that make us appreciate life even more than we already do.  

So I am kicking off my first Motivation Monday and using this quote as my motivation. I want to say thank you to a few of the many talented men and women that helped us execute our dream wedding.

Photographer: Renee Sprink at Renee Sprink Photography
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

I remember first meeting Renee and I quickly realized that she was exactly what I was looking for in a photographer - she was warm and welcoming, her photos were classic and timeless, she paid attention to every detail and her photos told a story.

I wish I could find the words that truly can express how thankful we are to have had Renee capture every detail as perfectly as she did. Our wedding will always hold a very special place in our hearts because it was a day filled with the most treasured moments with our families and friends. Thank you for telling our story so elegantly. Thank you for capturing the feeling and emotion of each moment. Thank you for not only being our photographer but becoming a lifelong friend.

Just a few examples of how Renee captures the emotion & the story in an unforgettable way. It takes me right back to that very moment on September 20, 2014.

Invitation Consultant: Paper Cafe
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Our invitations were an extremely important investment for me because I felt that it set the tone for our entire wedding. Stacey is the owner of Paper Cafe and I had the privilege of working with her to create our custom, invitation suite. From start to finish, the experience was top-notch! She spent many hours listening to us as we discussed the vision of what we wanted for our invitations and she did an excellent job executing this vision. Stacey did a fabulous job with every detail and I was over-the-moon excited on how they turned out. Stacey's experience and expertise allowed this to be possible. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Invitation Suite by Paper Cafe
Wedding Planner: Southern Soiree
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

I can't say enough fabulous things about Southern Soirée. I worked with Kailey and she truly made our wedding weekend the fairytale wedding that I have dreamed of since I was a little girl. She was everything and more that you want by your side as you plan your wedding - kind, caring, calming, organized, detail oriented and the list could continue! The entire Southern Soirée team is one of the best investments that I made during the entire wedding planning process. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Southern, Classic Elegance
Kailey executed every detail perfectly including our Birthday surprise
Bridal Boutique Wedding Dress: Traditions by Anna
Bridal Alterations: Marie Cordella
Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

When I walked into Traditions, I knew that I was going to find the perfect dress. You are greeted immediately with a very warm welcome. The ladies are so sweet, professional and strive to provide you with the most unique experience - they made me feel as though I was their only Bride for the day!

Working with Allison was a pleasure - she was focused on finding the dress that would make me feel and look beautiful. My dress had every element of detail that I wanted and I am so thankful for her help and guidance through the entire process. She found the most beautiful, breathtaking wedding dress for me and I couldn't have been happier!

Marie Cordella was recommended for my Alterations and she was fabulous! I just adored working with her as she made my dress fit like a glove.

Flowers: Carl Klabbatz
Location: Pinehurst, North Carolina

When the doors opened at the church, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and transformation of the church. Carl found a delicate balance of floral and greenery to create the most exquisite arrangements- it was perfect! The reception was no exception either, each arrangement was unique and were a true work of art. I can't thank Carl enough for his dedication to making our wedding venues absolutely stunning.
The Bouquets were beautiful and tied in our color palette perfectly.
The altar flowers were gorgeous as well.
Bakery: Bakehouse
Location: Aberdeen, North Carolina

The Bakehouse is a family owned and operated bakery. It is the fifth generation bakery that incorporates the Austrian and Spanish heritage of Martin and his wife. We worked very closely with Martin, the pastry chef, to create an elegant yet simple wedding cake for our Guests to enjoy. Martin was a pleasure to work with and always made sure to accommodate any of our requests. He is true artist that takes pride in his work.

I loved everything about our wedding cake -
the design, the simplicity, the taste
Again, thank you! Thank you for sharing your passion and expertise with us - you made our wedding day dream come true.

A Look Back at 2014

2014 was an incredible year filled with memories that I will cherish forever. For 2015, I aim to Explore, Dream and Discover because "twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

-We rang in 2014 at the New Year's Eve Gala at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh with a wonderful group of friends! As you will see, we had a lot to look forward to in 2014.
-It was so special to be able to host a Couple's Shower in Philadelphia at Ella's American Bistro for one of my dearest friends from high school, Danielle. Danielle & Mike are one of the cutest couples.
-February was full of Bridal Shows & Wedding Meetings. I was over-the-moon excited (and relieved) when I found our Bridesmaid dresses. The experience at Bella Bridesmaids in Raleigh was wonderful from start to finish. Thank you, Laura and Christy for being fabulous! 
-We celebrated our "dating" anniversary with a date night and my favorite glass of bubbly.
-Our sweet friends, Kristin and AJ, hosted a "Honey-Do" Couples Shower for us. How creative is the theme?! We loved being able to celebrate with our families and friends. 
*If you are looking to host a shower soon, review the creative list of shower themes by Loverly.
-Thomas' cousin married his high school sweetheart. It was a beautiful weekend and we were so happy to be part of it. 
-My sister and I have run 4 half-marathons together and many more are in store for us. I cherish our race weekends because we run step by step, mile by mile together. In April, we ran the first annual Raleigh Rock and Roll Half Marathon. It was the hardest, most mentally and physically challenging race that I have completed to date. 
-Phew! May was a busy month. We kicked it off celebrating Mother's Day and watching Kate graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill. I babysat Kate since she was a little girl - It has been an honor to watch her grow into a beautiful, young lady. I can't wait to see what the future holds for her.
-I was counting the days until we took our Engagement Pictures! The day finally arrived and we headed to Fort Macon in Morehead City, North Carolina with our wedding photographer, Renee Sprink. We had a blast and I just love how they turned out.
-I truly believe that "best friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly." I am forever grateful for our friendship. Being able to stand by Danielle's side as she married her best friend and as she smiled ear-to-ear was a moment that I'll never forget. 
-Being able to see my family that lives in Chicago + celebrate my cousin getting married was an absolute joy! Every detail of their wedding was spectacular. 
-We had lots of fun in the sun with everyone that came to celebrate with us at the beach for our Wedding Shower in June. I am missing these warm, summer nights. 
-My sister and I ran the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half Marathon. If you enjoy running, you must add this race to your list. The entire route is full of breathtaking views. Once you cross the finish line in historic Sonoma Plaza, you are handed a signature wine glass in order to begin an extensive wine tasting from some of the best vineyards in the area.
-We traveled to Asheville, North Carolina for another good friend's wedding. I fell in love with Asheville so we will be returning soon, perhaps this Spring when it isn't too cold.
-These fabulous ladies made me feel like a Princess during my Bachelorette weekend - we had a blast discovering Savannah together! Stay tuned as I share a few of our favorite finds soon.
-Thomas and I are both NC State Alumni so my Sister hosted a Couples Shower at the Lonnie Poole Clubhouse. It was such a fun way to wrap up our engagement and celebrate one more time before our BIG day a few weekends later! How beautiful is the view?!  
-I locked the door for the last time to my apartment in August. Apartment 311 saw many sleepovers with family & friends, goals achieved, engagements, lots of laughs, tears and so many incredible memories.
-Our wedding day was everything that I had dreamed of and more! It was simply perfect. I wish I could relive the weekend over and over again. I'll be sharing all the details on the blog over the next few weeks. 
-We left early Sunday morning so that we could soak up every second of our honeymoon in Grenada. Our resort was a-m-a-z-i-n-g and I can't wait to go back!
-My sweet, sweet sister got engaged! Their proposal in New York City was beautiful and I can't wait to stand by her side as she begins a lifelong journey with the man of her dreams.
-Blue & Pink filled the room as we tried to guess the gender of Baby Congelli. We are so excited for Kristin and AJ as they become a family of 3! Their baby GIRL will be arriving in March!
-Seeing Eric Church in concert was on our bucket list but never did I think that we would see Eric Church at Madison Square Garden. Let me tell ya, he did not disappoint! Our entire weekend in New York City was one that we will always remember.
-We hosted Thanksgiving at our home and I couldn't have been more thankful for the love that filled the room those few days. It made my heart happy!  
-I always look forward to celebrating birthdays - everyone deserves a day to be EXTRA spoiled and your birthday is a perfect excuse. I was so excited to spoil my husband all day! We had a wonderful dinner at Second Empire in downtown Raleigh. If you haven't been there before, you definitely have to celebrate a special occasion there soon.
-I have said it before and I will say it again, I am incredibly grateful for friends that have become family. Being trusted to become a Godmother was an honor and I can't wait to meet Miss Emery!   
-Weddings and Engagements filled our year and we ended 2014 with this adorable proposal for a wonderful friend. Tyler and Kayla met at NC State while both attending the Poole College of Management so it was only fitting to propose on the steps of where they first met. I loved being able to capture their special moment for them. 
 -Our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs. Chalk was perfect! Read more about the details in a recent post.

What were your favorite moments of 2014?