January 28, 2015

My new favorite fruit smoothie {clean eating}

I wanted to share my new favorite fruit blend! I've done something similar using strawberries, spinach, and bananas. But this was my first time switching out spinach for kale, and I LOVED the results! I'm hoping to make fruit blends for breakfast at least twice a week. Normally, I have coffee, a bottle of water, and some piece of fruit.

I used one banana, a handful of kale, and a handful of strawberries. I rinsed the strawberries and kale before using them.

I included a few ice cubes for moisture and to make the drink cold.

The final result is a forest green color with some specks of red from the strawberries. It's the perfect blend of flavors and sweetness. I could drink this blend every single day. It also didn't leave my teeth stained like some fruit mixes (with blueberries, spinach, blackberries, etc.) often do. This also kept me full until lunchtime.

And I've also used the kale in other ways this week. 

I sautéed the kale in a little olive oil with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, black pepper, and curry powder. 

I aso blended arugula and kale for this yummy salad. The salad was dressed in vinaigrette dressing and included cheddar cheese, tomatoes, strawberries, mushrooms, and a veggie burger!

What's your favorite fruit/veggie smoothie? I'm always looking for new recipes to try!

January 26, 2015

Georgia Aquarium College Semester Pass {Georgia Tech}

This past week and weekend were extremely busy, but luckily they were full of fun activities! One of the highlights of last week was visiting Georgia Aquarium where I got to see the beautiful exhibits, get a behind the scenes tour, and learn about their awesome college semester pass for Georgia Tech students!

We had an awesome tour guide, Megan, who was very knowledgable and passionate about Georgia Aquarium, which made our experience even better. I'm happy and proud to know how much care goes into keeping the aquarium operating. In the behind the scenes tour, we saw where the animals are treated (on-site), where their food is prepared, and where some college students volunteer in marine biology labs. It was all so cool.

The lobby of Georgia Aquarium is a sight by itself, and each of the exhibits offers a unique and beautiful perspective on life under the sea. We went to all of the exhibits that were open that day. My absolute favorite parts of the day were seeing the whale sharks up close and going to the AT&T Dolphin Show! It is the most impressive dolphin show I've seen, and I am so jealous of the swimmers who performed along with the dolphins.

I'm so excited that Georgia Aquarium is offering Georgia Tech students a pass to visit the Aquarium all semester long for only $31, a price perfect for a student’s budget! This deal is only for college students and the semester price is less than the cost of one general admission ticket. The semester pass allows unlimited visits to the Aquarium during the spring semester, and includes the AT&T Dolphin Tales show and our newest exhibit, Aquanaut Adventure: A Discovery Zone. This is such a great deal, and I know other Georgia Tech students will appreciate the opportunity to hangout at Georgia Aquarium for a great price!

See all the details below!

Georgia Aquarium College Semester Pass – Georgia Tech
One-Semester Pass: $31
Blackout dates: All Saturdays, March 16 –20, 2015

Students can conveniently purchase Georgia Aquarium College Semester Passes at the Georgia Tech Student Center Box Office.

Thank you, Georgia Aquarium, for inviting us to visit!

January 22, 2015

Eating in ATL {Livingston Restaurant + Bar}

Last Sunday I celebrated my birthday with my friend Alexandria by having brunch at Livingston Restaurant in Atlanta. Alexandria suggested this restaurant and we were both excited to try a new restaurant (for us) in the city. I actually pass by Livingston all the time and it's near the Fox Theatre, a major landmark in Atlanta. They offer brunch, lunch, and dinner and all of the menus look so delicious!

I love a restaurant with some history, and this place is full of history. It's named for Livingston Mims, a former Atlanta mayor who used to live where the restaurant exists today. This restaurant and another restaurant, Mims, are both part of the famous Georgian Terrace Hotel. The interior decorating of this restaurant is phenomenal and truly a blend of classic and modern southern pieces. Alexandria and I both agreed that it would be the perfect place to host a "Gatsby Style" party in Atlanta.

We started our meal with these sweet potato donuts. I mean, after reading that item it was hard not to order them! And they normally come with bacon on top, but we opted out of that. They were still so delicious and stayed true to the classic sweet potato flavor.

I ordered the French toast with a side of grits, both very tasty! I'm super picky about my French toast and I don't like when it tastes too eggy or soggy, and this toast was cooked to perfection! The grits also had a great seasoning and were thick, yet creamy.

And Alexandria ordered the lobster crepe. She said it tasted great and was very filling! 

The staff was super sweet and brought out this dessert for my birthday!

See, it's literally across the street from the Fox Theatre - perfect place to go before or after a show. I'm sure the outdoor seating with the view of Peachtree Street is amazing during warm months!

I'm so grateful that my sweet friend treated me to this delicious and classy birthday brunch! Thanks, Dria! :)

January 20, 2015

Healthy grocery shopping list examples

I cannot stress enough the importance of having a list prepared before going to the grocery store. I went grocery shopping yesterday and having my list of healthy food items decreased the temptation to grab unhealthy items. It also kept me from going over my budget. I get emails about grocery lists all the time, and I usually send people links to the three lists below (3 of my favorite guides). But I've finally made my own list, with affordable items that I typically purchase when I do my grocery shopping. When I shop, it normally last me a few weeks and allows me to make multiple creative, healthy meals.

Yesterday, I made this delicious kale + arugula salad (with tomatoes, avocado, strawberries, and lemon juice) and tilapia. So good!

Three other lists that I love!

January 18, 2015

Sushi making class in Atlanta {STEEL Restaurant & Lounge}

Yesterday my boyfriend and I took a class we've been talking about for a while - Sushi Making 101! The sushi making class was at STEEL Restaurant & Lounge in Midtown Atlanta. This place is minutes from Tech, but it was my first visit so I was excited because of that reason too. I'm sharing my experience below, and I hope it's helpful for others considering taking this class.

Above are some quick facts about what the 1.5 hour class includes. I loved seeing the break down of the salmon and learning how to properly roll the sushi. The last 30 minutes of the session are mainly for eating, receiving some gifts from the restaurant, and paying for the class.

Before the class started, everyone got a complimentary drink!

The class was set up around the sushi bar area. We had one instructor (who was awesome!) and the chefs helped out some as well. The food to go into the sushi was ready for us when we got to the bar. The restaurant was very understanding of dietary restrictions and food allergies. It was no problem for me to make my sushi using just vegetables, even though the standard class includes spicy tuna, crab, and BBQ eel.

This was such a fun thing to do with someone else! Although I'm sure the class would have been just as awesome if I went alone, I was happy to share my work space with someone I know. Most people in our class appeared to be couples or friends attending together. The photo above was when we were about to add the sliced avocado to our cucumber roll!

The finished product! The chefs cut up my sushi rolls and added some finishing touches to the plate. How delicious does this look?! Our instructor brought out our finished plates and we were able to enjoy them at the tables in the dining room. Perfect way to taste our creations.

Before leaving, we also got Sushi 101 certificates & goodie bags with supplies for sushi making at home! This was such a fun date and new activity. I definitely suggest it to anyone who enjoys sushi and doing hands on activities with friends or significant others! And, since this was my first time at STEEL Restaurant & Lounge, it counts toward my 24 to-do's list!

Have you ever made your own sushi? How did it go?

January 14, 2015

I'm 24! And it feels great

It's January 14, aka my birthday!!! 

I'm so excited and grateful to see another birthday and to spend it with the people I love. 23 was a great year overall, but it definitely had it's challenges. Learning how to balance grad school + work + my company definitely took some time. Some friendships ended, and others started. I failed and succeeded. I realized how much my family means to me and spent more time with them. I lost weight, gained some back, and lost it again. I stopped eating chicken! I traveled. I made plans to travel that didn't pan out. I set goals. I cut some bad habits. I realized new passions and purpose. I took risks. I laughed and cried. I lived.

My motto for age 24:

Thank you so much for all of the birthday wishes, they mean so much!!!

January 13, 2015

24 to-do's for age 24

Last year I created and shared my 23 to-do's for age 23, and it was a GREAT way for me to think about things that I wanted to accomplish as a 23-year-old, and the blog post kept me accountable for completing those items. So this year I've created a list for year 24, with the couple of items that I didn't complete in year 23, and some new ones! I'm really excited for this year and making major life moves before age 25. I think making lists (and sticking to them) is a fun way to organize your time and make sure you're living life to the fullest. I also based some of these more specific to-do's on my 2015 Promises. I'll update this list throughout the year like I did last year and will probably have some blog posts sharing my progress.

Progress: 3/24 complete
  1. Reach 1 million views for RCSOATL {1M views as of Feb. 19}
  2. Find out my blood type
  3. Get a job/career that I love
  4. Don't straighten my hair until my grad school graduation in December 2015
  5. Go to a state in the U.S. that I've never visited
  6. Invest in quality makeup & work clothes {February 2015}
  7. Meet the President {March 2015}
  8. Sign up for 10 yoga classes & attend them {1. Hotlanta Yoga: Jan., 2.  Hotlanta Yoga: Jan., 3. Hotlanta Yoga: March, 4, 5, 6, 7 Hotlanta Yoga: April and May,
  9. Read seven books & biographies {1. Condozeelza Rice: Jan., 2. Kristin Clark Taylor: Jan., 3. Nikki Haley: March
  10. Find a new Atlanta non-profit and volunteer + donate {Hands on Atlanta = donation
  11. Go to my first wine tasting
  12. Earn Graduate Communications Certificate
  13. Earn my real estate license
  14. Go back to Washington D.C. for a weekend
  15. Expand VKV Communications LLC
  16. Make my own design for my new place (rug)
  17. Spend a weekend unplugged (no phone, computer, TV, Internet)
  18. Eat only fruits, vegetables, & water for a week (no carbohydrates)
  19. Try a new restaurant in Atlanta every month {Jan. : STEEL Restaurant & Lounge, Jan. : Livingston Restaurant, Feb.: Beautiful Restaurant, May: Ecco}
  20. Continue using my gratitude journal on a weekly basis
  21. Do something uncomfortable / challenge myself once a month
  22. Take a Spanish class to continue learning the language 
  23. Pay off 75% of my student loans
  24. Maintain my weight and BMI

What do you think of my list?

P.S. My 24th birthday is TOMORROW! :)

January 11, 2015

No Mas! Cantina in Atlanta {24th Birthday Dinner}

Last night I celebrated my 24th birthday a little early + my company's 1 year anniversary at No Mas! Hacienda & Cantina in the Castleberry Hill district of Atlanta. I knew I wanted to have my birthday dinner at No Mas! because every time I visit their restaurant and store, I have an awesome experience. The food is delicious and the atmosphere in the restaurant is unbeatable. Here's a little blurb about their incredible venue from their website:

Our concept combines the Cantina Restaurant serving classic Mexican favorites & house specialties, and the Hacienda Showroom with an amazing collection of artistic creations from over 350 artisans in Mexico… all under one roof. For your private event, arrangements can be made to cocktail in the Hacienda and then enjoy dinner in our private Tequila tasting room, or our main Dining Room, which also has a Mezzaning. The venue seats 350+ and has flexibility to accommodate more with the outdoor garden and breakfast seating areas. We are walking distance from CNN, GWCC, AmericasMart, and Centennial Park. Located in the heart of the Castleberry Hill Warehouse Arts District.

My friend Kristi was kind enough to take photos throughout the night, and I think they tell such a fun story. This was my favorite birthday dinner of the ones I've had recently and I know it's because I had great guests, we had great service, great food and drinks, and everyone was there to have a great time.

We sat in the upstairs area, which is perfect for large parties. There's plenty of room and a great view of all of the restaurant's traditional decor. And many of the items you see in the restaurant are available for purchase in the adjacent store!

So. Much. Good. Food.

Our servers, Nick and Rene' were also awesome! I love a restaurant with good food AND good service, and No Mas! definitely delivered.

All of my guests received these custom VKV Communications LLC cups for our 1 year anniversary!

One of my best friends, Shelby, made this 5 tier, pink ombre cake! It was delicious and so beautiful! She even included my company logo at the top. Thank you, Shelby! :)

And my friend Kia of SoCo Sweets and Desserts made these adorable custom pink cupcakes! They were also so delicious! Thank you!

This was such a fun birthday / company celebration and I'm grateful for everyone who was involved in it. Thank you so much, No Mas! Cantina for being an excellent host!


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