Food

A tale of cake.

By Barre Thug Q

Here’s the story of a cake that survived one wedding and a wet nose from Miss Penny,aka Dog Thug P.  It all began when my future husband proposed to me just before I got a promotion at work.  Then we planned our wedding in the midst of him writing a doctoral thesis and me getting my feet under me at the new job.  What was wedding planning like during this time?  I don’t really remember except there was alot of loud discussions (aka yelling), complicated Excel spread sheets for our budget, and we did lots of searches on Expedia.com.  (This was plan B for elopement, not a honeymoon.)  Things were getting stressful for us both and a simple Vegas wedding looked like the easiest way to stay sane.

disaster flowers
These are surrealist cupcakes so I meant for the frosting to be melty like that.

Despite this, I still wanted a wedding with a big and beautiful wedding cake as the centerpiece.  I have very traditional tastes and love the monochrome look of white buttercream.  It’s satiny smooth and just smells so delicious!  This prompted my bridesmaid, Kate, and I to take a series of cake decorating classes at a local bakery.  Ten or so classes later, we had alot of experience eating buttercream straight from the piping bag and I could do a rudimentary rose and pipe a border like no one’s business. And I’m very froufrou at heart.  See my fancy work!

My buttercream work hasn’t gotten much better since that time.

At first, more was more so if I had the colors and the piping tip…I used it!  All of it.  Multiple times and in every area.  I think that both of these monstrosities weight like 5 pounds apiece after I got done piping everything that I could on top of them.  The ‘sea barnacle’ cake on the left might have weighed in at about 6 pounds?

Eventually, I learned that less is more so I tried to tone down my excitement and stuck with less colors and better technique–my borders are more even.

Mom

But then I learned that you could freeze flowers beforehand and I reverted to my natural tendencies of MORE MORE MORE! In this cake there was some empty space so I decided to try my hand at fancy writing and made an M into a “J”.  My Mom is pretty supportive and commented on how good the cake tasted.  It didn’t look too awful once you cut it into slices.

So, back to my wedding cake.  What did it look like?  Here she is!  My inspiration was from visitng Paris and the fact that I love the rustle of tulle.

edited

Confession time…this is a styrofoam cake.  I didn’t have time to balance work and wedding planning along with undertaking a massive baking project.  I ordered styrofoam pieces and decorated it with buttercream that I salted to keep me from licking the bowl.  I did a simple texture using a small frosting knife and added a shell border.  She looked a bit bereft so I added some coffee filter flowers I dyed with red food coloring.  A few hours later, I added a knick knack I picked up from a Parisian street vendor and she was done!  Voila! I didn’t have the cake of my dreams but I had a centerpiece that I loved plus I saved some money on a professionally made cake.

I guess the “stunt” cake is more like a mummy cake in that she survived 6 months completely intact in my basement.  OK, that’s not appetizing but the cake on the left is decorative and I’m still proud to say that I made it.  I made a smaller version of my cake for the actual cake cutting and did quickie decorations on top using dried rose petals. One of my fantastic groomsmen, James, gifted me a great bouquet that tied the colors of my wedding togehter for the cake table.  I used a borrowed cake stand that my husband taped LED lights under.

In the end…it all worked out.  Eat some cake!

It’s almost Halloween but it’s always wedding season here.  Share your stories below!

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Food

Vegan Mocha Cupcakes

By Barre Thug Q

Firstly, I can hear you groaning and rolling your eyes through the screen.  You see, I’m omniscient and thus know what you’re thinking “Ugh, vegan.  Must be made with seaweed and tofu.”  Nope!  (That’s for another blog.)  Fear not.  This is a tried and true recipe that everyone has approved and is easily put together in a matter of minutes with things you already have in your kitchen.  Bonus is that it can be baked in your toaster oven. (That last bit was for you go getters livin’ in a big city tiny apartment…no need to roast everyone or the cat alive by turning on the big appliances!)

The background of this cake is a long one going back to the Depression Era.  I found a recipe online called Wacky Cake and was intrigued.  This original cake was borne of a time when luxuries were scarce.  Nevermind Martha Stewart’s advice to use French butter or fresh eggs, such things weren’t easy to come by in the local bodega when some amazingly resourceful home cooks created this recipe. They turned to easily sourced ingredients like oil and plain ole’ tap water.  Their original creation was  brought together in one bowl–a marvelous cake of only flour, baking soda, water, coco, oil, and vinegar.  How THUG is that? Making a tender and tasty cake appear out of seemingly nowhere using whatever was at hand?  I’d love to meet such ladies…those are the friends you want–bisches who can make CAKE appear no matter what the circumstances.

Secondly, I feel that we know each other pretty well at this point so I’ll tell you a secret that you might have already guessed.  I love “trash baking“.  This is basically down and dirty baking that can be done in one bowl with as little fuss as possible using basic stuff you already have in your refrigerator or cupboard. If you have overachieving Instagram and blogging friends then they will most definitely NOT be into this.  I usually perform trash baking on days that I need some aromatherapy (the type that cannot be captured by a candle or essential oil) and immediate gratification.

Thus…here is my basic ingredient list plus find a good sized bowl, whisk, and a soup spoon.

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My organic vanilla lives in a rum bath that lives in a plastic bottle…get over it.

Vegan Mocha Chocolate Cupcakes

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cup sifted AP flour

3/4 cup white sugar

4 tablespoons unsweetened Hershey’s dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon instant coffee

powdered sugar

Wet ingredients:

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon white vinegar

6 tablespoons vegetable oil (or coconut oil)

1 cup warm almond milk (or soy milk or water)

This recipe makes six cupcakes. Begin by greasing your cupcake tin  and then lightly dusting with cocoa powder (or use Texas/jumbo sized cupcake liners).   Shake out the excess cocoa.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the flour in your container before you measure it out.  Combine all of the dry ingredients (except for the powdered sugar) into your bowl. Then, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients with your spoon and add all of the wet ingredients.   Stir thoroughly until all of the ingredients are incorporated but don’t over mix.  Things’ll look ugly and lumpy but that’s ok.

You know the whole “raw cookie dough” craze?  Congrats. You are way ahead of those hipsters.  Eat this stuff up with a spoon if you want because there’s no salmonella risk here!

Spoon batter into the cupcake tin. Tap the tin against your counters to release any air bubbles.  No air bubbles?  (Good for you, Overachiever!)  Tap anyways and get some tension out if you need to.

Bake for about 22-25 minutes.  The cupcakes will be slightly cracked on top and be

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This one’s for you, Puddles Pity Party! (I’ll bake more for you fellow P3ers!) Bespoke stencil by Barre Thug A on her Cricut.

smelling like your favorite coffee hangout minus the spotty wi-fi. Use a cake tester, skewer, or uncooked spaghetti noodle (a Nigella Lawson hack) to check for doneness.  Let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes before you turn them out on a rack.

Allow your dark and fragrant beauties to cool a wee bit more. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Let’s be real…you CAN make something very pretty with little effort and money.  Go for it.  You deserve it.  I made cupcakes (versus cake) which are ideal for sharing and storing.  Thus, go find another Barre Thug or your blog partner and share.  Reflect on the positives of the day or plot world domination.  Your choice.  In either case, make some time for yourself even on the busiest of days.

I’m raising a cupcake to you, fellow Barre Thug! You got this!

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Despite using only AP flour, these are tender and have a nice crumb.

Are you a vegan baker?  Did someone in your family make a different version of whacky cake? Please tell us in the comments section below.

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Pssst…did you MAKE the cupcakes?  If so, I’d love to see a picture!  Even crumbs or a half eaten cupcake will make me happy–don’t forget to tag me in your post. Happy baking!

 

Fabulousity

Something Old to Something New: Up Cycling Your Wedding Decor

By Barre Thug A

The “Happily Ever After” has begun, but do you have post wedding blues due to the lack of planning? And do you have wedding decorations that you don’t want to throw away because let’s face it they cost an arm and a leg, but have no clue what to do with them? Well, you’re in luck! I’m hoping to inspire you to take those decorations and turn them into something beautiful to remind you or even your loved ones (an awesome gift to give to your mom or your mother-in-law) of your special day.

Barre Thug Q used silk flowers for her big day and wasn’t ready to pitch them due to her thriftiness and the sentimental factors, but she wasn’t quite sure what to do with or even where to begin to craft with them. That’s where I come in. I told her that the flowers could easily be made into a wreath or two. Barre Thug Q was all in with my ideas and asked what supplies she needed to purchase to make the wreathes happen. She only needed to purchase two things…1. A grapevine wreath and 2. A metal wire wreath form.

Barre Thug Q came over for one of our morning meetings and brought with her the two wreathes, a laundry basket and large (and I’m talking LARGE) plastic bag filled with flowers, tulle, deco mesh, ribbons and bows. It was a crafter’s delight! I was instructed to use as many flowers as I possibly could and away I went….

Grapevine Wreath IMG_9183

Supplies needed: Grapevine Wreath, Silk Flowers, Floral wire, wire cutters, and Chenille Stem

Barre Thug Q had a flower spray (poor choice of words since a spray is typically used in funerals…oops!) already arranged from the wedding. I kept that in place and simple attached it into on the grapevine wreath using the floral wire. Next, I removed the stems and leaves (to use later) from the hydrangeas. I, then, wrapped floral wire around the hydrangea and placed in the desired location on the grapevine wreath and attached. And the leaves I saved for later, I attached floral wire to them and placed in the desired locations on the wreath to give it the last finishing touches. Lastly, I took a chenille stem, and let’s be honest and call them what we call know them to be, a pipe cleaner and made a loop to use a hanger on the backside of the wreath. And there we have it, a beautiful floral grapevine wreath to welcome those into your home!

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Grapevine wreath with flower spray
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Hydrangea with stem removed
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Flowers placed and attached
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Finishing touches, adding the leaves

 

Metal Wire Wreath IMG_9180

Supplies Needed: Metal Wire Wreath, Silk Flowers, Floral Wire, Wire Cutters, Chenille Stem, and in this case hot glue and glue gun

Barre Thug Q had a couple different types of hydrangeas. When I removed the stems and the leaves, some of the hydrangea remaining stems were longer than others. In order for them to all have roughly the same amount sticking out of the back to allow to be even when hanging, I had to take floral wire and wrap around the multiple stems of one singular hydrangea flower. Then, I hot glued the stems together to make sure they would stay put and hold. It added an extra step, but was totally worth the time it took. The next step, I took the floral wire wrapped it around the hydrangeas and places them on the metal wire wreath. Once the hydrangeas were placed and the wreath was full, I added the leaves. And like the grapevine wreath, I used a pipe cleaner to make a loop and attached it to the backside of the wreath to hang. Voila! Wreath number two! 

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Backside of the wreath with floral wire. I wrapped the wire around the form.
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Placing and attaching hydrangeas.
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The wreath before adding the leaves.
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How the wire is wrapped around the leaves. Then attach to the wreath wrapping the wire around the metal form.

 

The thing I find so amazing about this project is not only how great the wreathes turned out, but also the thriftiness behind all the flowers. Barre Thug Q shared with me the history on these silk flowers. She bought some of the hydrangeas at a bridal yard sale, while some were purchased at a local craft stores. They were turned into a floral arch for Barre Thug Q’s BIG day. But this isn’t where the story ends with these silk beauties! A friend of Barre Thug Q then took the floral arch and turned it into a table sprays (Even Barre Thug Q used the word spray….yay! It’s not so morbid after all!) for her wedding. If you are counting that is three weddings!!! How cool is that?!

These beauties have found there forever home, or have they? Hmmm…Only time will tell. Whatever their future has in store, they will create more beautiful memories.

Have you planned a wedding and then turned the decor into something amazing? How did you preserve the memories of your wedding day? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you! Plus, who doesn’t love a little craft inspiration!?!

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Family & Friends

Not Your Average Date Night: Dead and Company

By Barre Thug A

My husband and I are music lovers. We listen to some artists in common, but I would say for the most part, we tend to listen to different genres. I like to listen to what I would say is my parent’s music…classic rock and classic pop (Yes, I just invented my own genre!) My husband prefers alternative rock and jam bands. So what happens when you mix pop with jam band? You get your not so average date night.

We are John Mayer fans. To my husband, this was a no-brainer for him. Once he heard that John Mayer would once again be touring with the Grateful Dead again this summer, he was sold. He heard the tour was fantastic last year. I, on the other hand, was a little more reluctant about going. First, I don’t know very many Grateful Dead songs. Secondly, I am not, and I repeat, I AM NOT a jam band person. But as a spouse, you take one for the team at times. This was my time to take one for the team, plus who doesn’t love a little alone time. For us, this is a rarity! So I will jump at any chance to spend some just the two of us.

 

IMG_2383So I found myself at a concert, in which I felt completely out of place. It was much different than most concerts I have attended. There I was in a sea of tie-dye, I thought I had channeled my best inner hippie for the evening, but yet I found myself to be overdressed. My eyes were opened to a lot of things at this concert that I never seen or experienced (we’ll leave it at that). But a couple things that stuck out and I found the most interesting were the age range and the kindness of those at the concert. The age range was quite interesting and vast. People had their babies and small children with them to those folks who were the original “dead heads”. It was a multi-generational crowd. Folks were kind to one another. If someone spilled a drink or bumped into you, they actually stopped, apologized, and tried to right the wrong.

Overall, it was nice experience. I got some alone time with my hubby. We listened to some good tunes. John Mayer killed it, but the way! My eyes were opened to a lot of things that I never knew and now everything makes sense of what I grew up hearing my parents say. Lastly, I absolutely can’t wait for another not so average date night! Life is an adventure and you have to live it to enjoy it!

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Trying to work my inner hippie.

 

Do you have an not so average date night experience? If so, we would love to hear it! Please leave us a comment below and subscribe to our blog!

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Fitness

Yoga Pants Review

By Barre Thug Q and Barre Thug A

     Yoga pants, Capris, 7/8 Length?  High-waisted? Ripped or Mesh panel?  Cheap or expensive? Are you just as confused as me?!

Trust us, we got your back(side). Believe us when we advise that this particular find is fabul-NOPE! There are more comfortable and flattering options out there for you.

     Where to begin?  We asked a few of the ladies from Liege for their help.  After doing a few dozen plies and squats as a test run…here’s what they told us.  We organized a quick and handy guide ranging from the high end pants to the readily accessible options at your local big box store.

 

Lulumon:  Wunderunders

Cost:  $98 and up

Comfort:  I love Lululemon leggings, I usually go for the basic black wunderunders. They are very flattering and I love the way they feel on.

Durability: My go to workouts are barre classes, spinning and strength training and the Lulu leggings fit amazingly and stay put during all of my workouts. I usually wash them on the delicate cycle and let them air dry and haven’t had any issues with pilling or fading, even after frequent washing.

General Comfort: The material is thick and supportive. They are not see through, aka they pass the bend over test. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5)

Barre Thug @carlevollant said “Having good quality workout clothes is absolutely worth splurging on.  Overall I would give 5 stars because of the quality and they just hold up better than other leggings I’ve worn in the past.”

Alo:  7/8 High-Waist Leggings*

Cost: $70 and up

Comfort: Super comfortable. Stays in place…no tugging up while exercising.

Durabilty: After multiple washes (inside out, cold, like colors, and air drying) still holds the same shape as the first day I bought. No fading. And not see through!!!

General Appearance: I love the look and feel of the leggings. I prefer the high waisted for my own comfort.

Barre Thug @aliciaadams said “Everything feels held in place, no jiggle with the wiggle.” 

*Note that 7/8 leggings will wear more like longer capris for taller Barre Thugs while more petite Bisches will find that these fit like ankle length leggings.

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5)

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Cutout and mesh details.

Brand: Pink/Victoria’s Secret Sport

Cost: $35 and up

Comfort: Super comfortable with a wider waist band to keep things in place. 

Durabilty: Thick and durable! These leggings pass the squat test and are not see through!

General Appearance: These leggings are slimming and super forgiving. 

Barre Instructor @Michellerhoffman notes “These specific leggings are a higher-rise and smooth out the tummy/hip area. My go-to on days I want to look slim and trim!” 

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️   (5/5)

 

Brand: Old Navy

Cost:  $17 and up

Comfort:  Mostly comfortable because they are high-waisted.  The material is not especially soft but is supportive nevertheless.  

Durability:  Definitely durable after multiple washes and air-drying.

General appearance:  Fun patterns are available if you want to coordinate with a fellow Barre Thug.  But standard black and grey or navy blue are available too.

Barre Thug Q reports that these are a great buy if you need multiple pairs for your first barre classes.  They shape and support well. Look for Old Navy’s annual sale and sign up for their coupons!

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5)

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A budget option that delivers on most points.

Brand: Wal~Mart

Cost:  $5 and up

Comfort:  Stretchy and adequately supportive.  You don’t get the traditional “brushed” feel of higher quality leggings.  They are perfectly adequate for barre, a walk, or biking.

Durability:  It’s exactly what you’d expect from clearance leggings.  In their defense, my pair didn’t start to wear at the seams until a year and a half into my 3-4 times a week barre habit.

General appearance:  Meh, for $5 it’s okay.

Barre Thug Q unashamedly shops at the clearance rack.  She said “Buy a few for  when you need back up workout clothes.  It’s not a bad idea to have a spare outfit in your car for days when you forget to pack before class.”

Stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3/5)

     Ok, let’s be honest.  Yoga pants have transformed our notions of what is acceptable for everyday wear.  We’ve all seen and witnessed definite “fails” in this department. Just remember, however,that putting on a pair of leggings first thing in the morning might lead to a comfy day on the couch surfing Netflix…or it might unconsciously cue you to register for a Barre class later in the day.  Don’t automatically discount the power of shaping healthier behaviors just because of the jokes about yoga pants in popular media! 

     Whatever your preference,  buy at least 3 pairs of yoga pants to give yourself a good rotation.  Invest money in some quality gear or just mix and match as your bank account allows.   It doesn’t matter if you are “Lululicious” or have to settle for being budget fab, just remember to recharge at the Barre.  Pull on your yoga pants and GO! 

A special thank-you to all of the Barre Thugs who contributed to this blog! 

 

What are your go to yoga pants brand?  Tell us below in the comments section!

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Visit our happy place.  Your complimentary first class is waiting!

http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

Food

No zombie brains here!

By Barre Thug Q with Instructor Michelle

Liege Barre and Pole Boutique is my happy place.  I’ve learned how to finally exercise in an enjoyable way and have met so many wonderful Barre Thugs there too.  I recently told Barre Thug Michelle that I needed to up my smoothie game.  My usual approach is to make pre-frozen bags of berries, a quarter of a banana, and some spinach.  I blend this with either almond milk or soy milk with a squeeze of fresh OJ.

Like a proud mama, I think that my creations are Insta worthy.  In my mind I see my blended drinks as artisan works worthy of many photos.  A friend told me that my latest creation looked like I was blending zombie brains for breakfast. Aside from cosmetic concerns, my stand by recipe has started to feel a bit meh.

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What I imagine I made–a serene pool of pink berry goodness ready for Instagram.
Zombie Brain Smoothie
What I actually created–breakfast zombie brains?  Must be like a Rorschach ’cause I don’t see it.  Do you?

If you were one of my lucky co-workers, you’d remember the horrified looks I’d get when I uncorked one of these beauties at my desk.  The sludge had usually turned an interesting grey color if it had blue berries and one of clerks mentioned that it looked like I was drinking dog vomit. Except he didn’t mean “vomit” and was referring to whatever came out of the doggie’s digestive tract located farthest from its snout.

That leads me to today where I mostly work from home and also cafes.

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I can eat and drink at leisure outside the office without horrifying people about my life choices. 

Michelle gently reminded me that it’s not all about looks but about what’s inside the smoothie.  One of my top concerns is keeping things tasty but also nutritious.  In the beginning, I tended to load up on fruits and grocery store juice which made everything very sugary.  She suggested adding…wait for it, frozen cauliflower instead of ice cubes! Win-win for the convenience and extra vitamin B, C, and K.  Need more greens? Try chunks of zucchini or cucumber with the skin on!  These veggies add additional vitamin B and C to support hair growth and immune health.  At the very least, you fill up on some fiber and get a hydration boost.

The truth?  You don’t specifically taste the veggies in your smoothie unless you add too much and end up with a liquid salad.  In general, I use a 50/50 ratio of fresh fruit and veggies.  I tried using coconut water but that added a weird layer of flavor that I couldn’t get behind even though I love the stuff on its own.

Here are some additional add-ins Michelle suggests for your next smoothie:

  • Local bee pollen sprinkled on top of your smoothie bowl:  allergy relief.
  • Flax and chia seeds:  healthy fats that add a nutty flavor and thicken your drink.
  • A dash of turmeric:  beautiful deep yellow color and may fight inflammation.
  • Frozen almond or cashew butter ice cubes.

Barre Thug Michelle’s Breakfast Smoothie

Tone it up chocolate protein powder

Almond butter

Zucchini

1/2 banana

Frozen cauliflower rice

Oh, and I don’t need to specifically have the last word but I’m just gonna tell everyone that I CAN  make very pretty food.

Not that I have anything to prove.

But I’m gonna just leave these snap shots here.

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Check out Michelle’s fantastic barre class on Tuesday nights at LiegeBarreandPole.com.

(Remember, your first class is free and Barre is a gateway activity leading to overall happiness, healthy behaviors, and meeting other awesome ladies like yourself.)

Family & Friends

Road Trip: Fiestaware, Good Eats, & The World’s Largest Teapot

By Barre Thug A

So when your Ride or Die messages you about a road trip, it doesn’t matter where or when, the answer is ABSOLUTELY YES! In this case, my ride or die knows my love of Fiestaware and wanting to get a good bargain. Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t?!

My bff, of almost 20 years, Jennifer and I hopped into the car and drove a little over an hour to West Virginia for the Annual Spring Fiestaware Tent Sale. We got time to talk, just us. No hubbies, no kiddos, just good old girl time. We caught up on life, talked about classmates, buying homes, what’s going on for our summers, what we were looking for at the sale and what color we wanted, and of course much more.

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My Ride or Die, Jennifer and I waiting in the line to get into the tent.

We got to the sale, we waited in line for an hour and a half to get into the tent. We, of course, continued our random conversations about anything and everything. Once in the tent, it was all business. At first, I was shy and overwhelmed and let Jennifer do all the work. But once I got into the groove, it was a go for me! In the end, we walked away with a decent buggy load. I spent a total of $70.00. The one item I purchased, normally costs $70.00 by itself. I would say we definitely got a good bargain.

We finished our day with some eats at a local restaurant and took our picture with the world’s largest teapot. Our ride home consisted of more girl talk and some old school rap from our high school days.

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The World’s Largest Teapot.

It was a perfect day. A day filled with much needed girl time, lots of laughs, and memories to last a lifetime. We decided this is our ‘yearly’ thing we do together, just us. So when your Ride or Die calls, messages, or gets ahold of you and asks you to go on a road trip, just say, “ABSOLUTELY YES!” It is something you won’t regret.

What things have you and your Ride or Die done together? Do you have something you do annually?Leave us a comment below–we’d love to hear from you!

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Learn more about our happy place at http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

 

Liege Barre & Pole

Instructor Bio: Emily

Emily – Instructor for over 1 year

emily
Barre Style

BarreBata Monday at 5:30PM
High intensity interval style Barre class with a deep stretching session at the end.

Favorite exercise:
Compound exercises that work the entire body at the same time.

Curious about barrebata? It’s barre exercises combined with short intervals where you hold your pose for maximum results.  There is also a guided session of deep stretching at the end of each class.  Emily is demonstrating some basic exercises beginning with plies done in a wide second position at the barre (targeting glutes and quads), then lateral raises (targeting the the side glutes), and low rows done with the resistance band to shape the arms and back.

Pro level workout tip:
Do something active every day. Even if it is for just 10 minutes at the end of a busy day – you will always thank yourself after because a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.

Instructor insight:
This class will be difficult and may be outside your comfort zone but once you finish you will be ready to take on any challenges the week may bring!

 

Click on this link to find more information or schedule your first complimentary class:

http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

Follow us on Facebook or  @barrethugs and @liegebarreandpole

What do you think?  Leave us a comment below.

Fabulousity

Fabulous Friday–Happy Hour Edition

by Barre Thug Q and Doc McStumbles

I first met Doc McStumbles in graduate school. We quickly became friends over study sessions that always included a lot of yelling, threats, a bit of learning, and then a walk to the local Chinese bakery as a reward afterwards.  That was a lot of years ago and fast forward to 2017 when I asked her to be my maid of honor.  She agreed and ominously said, “Remember that I have lots of info to blackmail you with.”  I told her that there would be an open bar at the wedding and that seemed to mollify her for a bit. No dirt made it into her speech at dinner.

Don’t let the dress fool you–she’s got the viscous heart of a pirate and the appetite for gin to match.

Doc McStumbles and our legendary happy hour Fridays are the basis for this blog.  I was inspired to re-recreate our gatherings using whatever I have in the house because this is what we did each Friday when 5PM rolled around. Our first happy hour involved a bottle of Australian white wine that and left Doc sleepy, me with a numb face, and Marcie Moo (our third roommate) yelling that the “room was spinning”.  We looked sophisticated and classy, I’m sure. Appetizers on a budget?  We had that in the form of sliced cheese from the deli. Things got fancier later with fruit but it was pretty basic in the beginning.

I talked to Doc McStumbles and she recalled this:

Fridays in graduate school were fantastic.  They were even more fantastic if school was someplace sunny and you’d spend all week trudging up a steep hill under a skewering sun with a giant book bag. There, happy hour Fridays on golden sands by crystal clear waters was your only motivation to stay awake.  Those days are long gone and so are white sand beaches; however, what does remain constant is a grueling work week and massive debt.  But why should that stop happy hour Fridays?

martinis
Gin or vodka martini? Either way, always have it extra dirty. My mentor told me that this ensures you’ll always have a dinner with drinks no matter how meh the company is.  (Bespoke festive skewers by Barre Thug Alicia.)

One of the lessons that stuck with me from those woebegone years is how to do happy hour right on a budget.  All you really need is friends, fruit and a spirit of your choice.  We four flatmates had spent the previous year in a northern town of England, called Newcastle-upon-Tyne (a story on its own), and had adopted G&T with a passion(fruit).  Those Fridays we gathered in the common room, one of us would reach for the gin, and another would make sure that the limes were on hand, halved, and ready to go.  We’d catch each other up on our week (that is verbally bash whoever deserved bashing, and what was new about our woefully lacking love lives, the latter being a footnote in the convo).  We didn’t need a variety of happy juice – just dutifully stocked wine selection (with back ups of both red and white – who needs a rack when you know how to use what you’ve got).

While the alcohol was my happy meal those Fridays, the girls needed solid sustenance.  We would have fruit skewers to accompany.  Anything went so that’s how things like mangoes, limes, passion fruit, and star fruit (only the sweet ones thank-you) joined the menu.

They call me Limey.

I loved those days – one may think four girls, on a budget, in one tiny cramped apartment may be a recipe for disaster.  But on those Fridays lime, liquor, and a lot of laughter was exactly what the doctor ordered.”

I was telling all of this to Barre Thug Alicia who said that she didn’t know a thing about happy hour!  Shocked, I distilled it down to these three elements: DRINKS, FOOD, and FRIENDS.

For friends who don’t drink alcohol, there are sparkling water options although tonic water with lime is delicious too–it helps you avoid scurvy. Food? Skewer whatever you’ve got on hand with something festive and put it on a tray or nice plate. Open a bag of chips. Friends?  Only invite those who deserve a happy hour with someone as fantastic as YOU!

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Make happy hour inclusive for everyone–infuse some water or add fruit to tonic water (or coconut soda). Not your thing? Try a dash of bitters with sparkling water. Or pour some cranberry juice over limes and ice.  Don’t give up!  My psych professor told me that there’s a drink out there for everyone.

Bottom line, always reserve some time with the Barre Thugs and Bisches in your life no matter how busy or cash-strapped you are.  Slainte!

Q&D
Did I crop my own husband out of the photo?  You betcha–sistas before mistas.

We’ve got stories to tell including how Doc Stumbles was assaulted by a one-eyed woman outside of a Chinese restaurant.  I had to rescue her…pretty cool, huh? (She’ll dispute this story but she’s got a terrible memory.) We were lucky to survive grad school in one piece.

Did we make your happy hour festive?  What are your favorite drink recipes?  Leave us a comment below–we’d love to hear from you!

Follow us on Instragram @barrethugs and on Facebook.

Learn more about our happy place at http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Fabulosity

Friday Fails–keepin’ it real

The Pin-spirationI interviewed Alicia between her research sessions–she’s currently thinking up different arm exercises.  Last week she came up with how to combine weights AND a ball for biceps.  (I was sore for an entire day.) I asked her to put down the notebook long enough to talk to me.  Here’s what she said:

Barre Thug Alicia presents the following “Friday Fails” for your consideration…the Pinterest Rosette Wreath!

Her original intent was to recreate the grapevine rosette wreath using her cricut. It started out simple…cut the rosettes and glue on to the pre-formed wreath. The universe had other plans. The rosettes were harder to assemble than she’d original thought AND using the grapevine wreath wasn’t going to work due to the rosette size. Alicia quickly returned to Pinterest for a new rosette wreath idea! She used a cardboard wreath form instead and added an additional medium size rosette.

The Pin-spiration

She realized that she measured incorrectly and ended up with large rosettes instead of medium ones. Alicia quickly called upon her Barre Thug instincts and fixed the wreath using one dramatic rosette and smaller ones to compliment it. Here’s the completed project and it looks pretty awesome!

Failure averted. In the end, she won’t be doing this project again because making and assembling of the rosettes wasn’t worth the time investment. Barre Thug Alicia realizes that she’s got enough talent and inspiration to design her own wreath instead of looking to Pinterest for ideas.

Mic drop.  Barre Thug out

 

 

 

As for me, my fails are actual disasters.  Witness my attempt to make sweet potato oven fries.  Can you smell the char from the screen? Yum!

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Orange and burnt…they look like undergrads on spring break who forgot sunscreen but did remember to spray tan.  Fail.

I was inspired by Christina Tossi of Milk Bar fame who talked about baking “spiritually and in the moment”.  I tried to do the same and make some healthier fries that didn’t require deep frying or use a high glycemic index spud.  I carefully cut some fries and was mindful of my knife cuts like if wrinkly Gordon Ramsey was watching. (Don’t judge.)  I added a wee bit of olive oil and tucked everyone away on parchment paper and baked the potatoes at 425 F.  The lesson here?  If I cut the burnt ends off, the middle parts of the sweet potato fries are pretty tasty.  Will I make them again?  Yes.  I don’t give up on making foods I like and I don’t learn either–stay tuned for more sweet potato oven fries fails.

Oh, and I told you that I don’t craft.  It’s not an understatement.  Here’s an example of how I tried to make a card cheerier with some decorations.

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Washi tape + envelope = instant cheer?

Did I succeed?  You decide.  Let me know in the comments section below.  Misery loves company so don’t be shy with your feedback!

Follow us on Instagram @barrethugs  and Facebook.

Become a Barre Thug at http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

Fitness, Liege Barre & Pole

Liege Bio: Alicia, Barre Instructor for 1 year

Liege Instructors

Barre Style

Barre on Friday at 6:00am
Morning barre is designed to give you a boost for your last work day and get you into the weekend feeling energized and strong.

Favorite Exercise

Focused movements to work the quads, inner thighs, and you can’t forget the core!

Pro-level workout tip

“Prepare the night before. Put out your clothes, water bottle, and energy bar to make it that much easier to get out the door. Invite a friend to keep yourself motivated! And see you at the barre!”

Instructor Insight

“It might be hard to get up early for a workout, but these 45 minutes will be totally worth it! You may show up sleepy, but you WILL leave energized and ready to take on the day like a Barre Thug!”

Click on this link to find more information or schedule your first complimentary class:

http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

Follow us on Facebook or @LiegeBarreandPole

Fitness, Liege Barre & Pole

Liege Bio: Hilary, Barre instructor for 2 years

Liege Instructors

Barre Style

Barre on Thursday at 6:00pm
A combination of sets that focus on lower body, upper body, and core
strength…all while listening to kickass music. Focusing on small
movements, multiple times, so you really feel the burn! #8more

Favorite Exercise

Squats alternating to each side to really get the blood pumping and the buns tight

Pro-level workout tip

“Surround yourself with other inspiring, boss babes to keep you
positive, motivated, and smiling before, during and after your workout.”

Instructor Insight

“Take the time to focus on YOU. Be proud and confident in yourself
with exactly where you are, and be open to pushing yourself to be even
better! It’s your journey. We just want to be a healthy part it and watch
you grow.”

Click on this link to find more information or schedule your first complimentary class:

http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

Follow us on Facebook or @LiegeBarreandPole

 

Family & Friends, Food

Brunches & Dragons

Barre Thug Q made two quiches for Mother’s Day –the first quiche went to Mom and the second….wait for it, went with the husband to his D&D brunch.

Can D&D and quiche go together? Do D&D players really wear capes during games? Why does one campaign go on for days/weeks/many moons?  Questions.  Barre Thug Q turned to the internet for answers.

 

She consulted “The Big Bang Theory” where the boys invited the girls to try D&D when they find themselves unexpectedly short one player.

Barre Thug Q dutifully took notes and presents them below for the uninitiated.

Sheldon’s rules for D&D

  1. There is no drinking during D&D except in instances when someone renames it “magic potion.”
  2. Only the Dungeon Master rolls the dice (he’s the one sitting behind the cardboard screen with the outline).
  3. The events of the game are determined by rolls of the dice.
  4. Celebrity impressions are welcome for the characters, especially if friends do a good Christopher Walken voice.

Here are photos from the D&D preparations for brunch…Barre Thug Q was not allowed to attend.  (Joking…she was at home catching up on The Barefoot Contessa episodes!)

 

The D&D players added avocado, peppers and potatoes to the quiche plus “magic potion” which was poured into champagne flutes.

 

 

As you can see, the food added realism to the tavern scene that was set up by the Dungeon Master who consulted some of his supplemental books, including “Remarkable Inns” during the game.  The quiche fits neatly behind the Dungeon Master’s screen along with his dice and notes.  Huzzah!

 

 

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The Mother of Brunches approves of this plate!

Special thanks to the D&D players for allowing Barre Thug Q into their world for a brief glimpse behind the screen!

Fitness, Liege Barre & Pole

Liege Instructor Bio: Jen, Founder and Barre & Silks instructor since 2014

Jen profile pic
Head Momma Bear at Liege Barre & Pole Boutique

Barre Style

Small precise movements that focus on single muscle groups through repeated
engagement and holds–small movements add up to big improvements.

Barre Class Schedule

Tues at 9:15AM, Wed at 6PM, Thurs at 9:15AM, Sat at 7AM and 8AM

 

Liege legs 2
An example of one of the many exercises featured in Barre for conditioning and strengthening your legs.  Come find out about how you can tone and work on your entire body. (Your first class is on us!)

 

Favorite Barre Exercise

Anything that involves the sculpting the gluts and legs

Legs 2

Aerial Silks

Sun at 9AM
Focuses on back, biceps and core stabilization

Pro-level workout tip

“Just accept the fact that you are fierce and that you are doing amazing self-care when you take a class. Plus, you are surrounded by a group of strong women that have your back. I have a strict rule no negative self-talk!”

 

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The adjective that describes all “Liegers”, the ladies and gents of the barre and pole boutique. Come join us for a class!

Instructor Insight

Sometimes it can feel like you are just taking baby steps but know that a positive attitude during class is tantamount to an effective workout.  When you attend the studio you are with like-minded women so feel free to have fun, laugh, and just really immerse yourself in the vibe of the class and your fellow Liegers!

 

Click on this link to find more information or schedule your first complimentary class:

http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

Follow us on Facebook or @LiegeBarreandPole

 

 

Family & Friends, Food

Make Ahead Quiche

Quiche can be customized with pretty much whatever you like.  Some ideas are using traditional savory breakfast foods like bacon and mushrooms.  Ingredients that work best include veggies like olives (save some for a martini later), spinach, kale, and onions. Add cheese including any combination of shredded or grated cheese that you’d like including Parmesan (the stuff from the can is ok because I won’t tell), cheddar, or mozzarella.

Make Ahead Fridge Raid Quiche

By Barre Thug Q

Yields 2 quiches

2 frozen refrigerated Pillsbury 9’ deep dish pie crusts (“ready to fill”)

2 ½ cups shredded or grated cheese (don’t judge me!)

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups of veggies or protein

Olive oil for sautéing

1 ½ cup whole milk

10 large eggs, well beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons sour cream

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.  Tear strips of foil and cover just the crust of both pies.  Make sure that the foil doesn’t slip off (I used three strips of foil per quiche.) Bake the unfilled frozen crusts for 5-7 minutes until they are golden brown.  If the crust puffs up when the pies comes out of the oven, then gently poke them flat with a fork.  Set aside on a cooling rack.

Take your three cups of refrigerator raid ingredients and chop them into smaller pieces.  Sautee them in olive oil and drain any excess liquid. Let the ingredients cool.

In a bowl, mix the cheese and flour.  Add the sautéed ingredients.  Divide the mixture evenly between the two crusts.  Beat the milk and eggs together. Pour evenly between the two crusts.

Bake both quiches at the same time at 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes.  Remove the foil when the quiches have been baking for about 35 minutes.  You can check for doneness by inserting the tip of a sharp knife—there will be no wet egg.  Cool then cover both quiches for later.

Barre Thugs believe in sharing food with family and friends…D&D brunch blog coming up featuring the second quiche!

Share your food pics with us on Facebook or tag us on Instagram #2BarreThugs!

Family & Friends, Food

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

My Mom and I love scones.  The first ones that we purchased came from a (now sadly closed) bakery called La Patisserie.  The closest that I’ve been able to find comes from a coffee shop in Cleveland but you have to get there early to score one.  They make a great white chocolate raspberry scone–this is my version with berries and lemon glaze.  I hope that you like it!  The dough can be frozen which enables you to bake yourself (and your Mom) a few later for a sweet breakfast or afternoon tea.

Raspberry White Chocolate Scones

By Barre Thug Q

Yields 18 scones

Dry Ingredients

2 tablespoons baking powder

4 cups plus 5 tablespoons AP flour (sifted)

6 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup white chocolate chips

6 tablespoons powdered sugar

Wet Ingredients

2 teaspoons vanilla

Zest of one lemon plus juice

2 sticks of cold butter

1 ½ cup of whole milk

6 ounces of fresh raspberries (frozen on parchment paper)

1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift together first 4 dry ingredients into a large bowl.

Cut cold butter into thick slices and incorporate into flour–use a fork (or your fingers).  Resulting mixture will have crumbly texture and also long shards of butter throughout. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add vanilla, lemon zest, egg, and milk. The mixture should be somewhat sticky.  Use a spatula to incorporate ingredients.  Do not overmix.

Gently fold in frozen raspberries and white chocolate.

Refrigerate dough for about a half hour.  This will make it easier to scoop the dough with a 2” cookie scoop. Space scones on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake scones at 425 degrees F for about 12-15 minutes until they are golden brown on the bottom.  Remove to a baking rack to cool. Glaze with 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice (or water) when scones have cooled.

Freeze unbaked scones on parchment paper in a tightly sealed Ziploc bag.  Make sure that unbaked scones are not touching each other until they are completely frozen.  Bake from the freezer completely frozen at 425 degrees F for about 17 minutes.

Share your food pics with us on Instagram #2BarreThugs

Food

Make ahead breakfast tips

What’s the Barre Thug approach to breakfast for their Moms?  Plan ahead and don’t stress out.  Here are some tips for an easy make ahead breakfast.  I included an easy game plan for you below too.

Make a list of everything that you’ll need.

I like to divide my list up into columns like ‘food’, ‘table ware’, and ‘gifts’ for this occasion.  You won’t forget the most important things and that frees you from worrying the morning of breakfast. (As you complete each task or locate each item, cross it off the list—now it’s off of your mind.) If you’ve got the room, lay out the tray, gifts, and tableware the night before.

Baking can take up time so make these scones ahead of time and freeze the unbaked dough.  Put your parchment paper on a sheet tray into the oven so that’s ready to go too! Bake the scones you’ll need for Mother’s day the morning of.  Save a few for yourself later—share some with your fellow Barre Bisches.  Take photos and share them with us on Instagram #2BarreThugs!

Enjoy your breakfast.

Nothing has to be perfect.  It’s all about your good intentions.  Everyone feels special when someone else has made them breakfast.  You cannot go wrong! You accomplished Mother’s Day like a Barre Thug…check the box for maximum fabulosity!

 

Here’s your Barre Thug game plan

Saturday

Make a list of everything that you’ll need including how many people you’re inviting to breakfast.  Don’t forget to double check that you have all the ingredients you need for the quiche and scones including parchment paper and foil.

  • Make the quiche and refrigerate them uncut.
  • Make the scone dough and freeze.
  • Wrap up your pretty DIY presents.
  • What’s Mom’s beverage of choice? Put out the champagne or juice glasses.  Fill the coffee pot or French press.  Chill the bubbly.

Sunday morning

Bake the scones.  It’ll take about 40 minutes between baking and cooling them so that you can glaze the scones.  When the scones are cooling, start the coffee.  Take the quiche out of the fridge and slice.

Enjoy your day with the special women in your life!

What are your tips for a stress-free breakfast?  Share in the comments below!

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram #2BarreThugs

 

Family & Friends

Mother’s Day DIY Gifts

Crafts Preview
What’s Mom’s favorite color? Use that as the ribbon.  Don’t forget the bubbly too!

DIY Fitness Journal

By Barre Thug Alicia

Supplies:

 Journal –any color and material is fine but a solid color is best

                Scraps of Vinyl

                Contact Paper

Directions:

  1. Using my Cricut, I designed the words and picture into Cricut Design Space
  2. Placed my scrap vinyl on the mat and Cricut cut my design.
  3. Once the Cricut was finished cutting the design, I weeded the vinyl to uncover the designated design.
  4. Place contact paper over the vinyl design to keep it in place and transfer over to journal.
  5. Place on the journal is designated location and rub the place into its place. You can use a credit card or something with a edge.
  6. Remove the contact paper and give the vinyl another rub to secure the vinyl in place.
  7. And complete!

Are any of you bullet journal keepers?  This would be an ideal starting book for a fitness bullet journal.  Sometimes it just helps to keep track of exercise since this can be a good motivator.  The journal that I picked has a pocket in the front—perfect for tucking in a bookmark, photo, gift certificate, or movie tickets for Mom too!

Are you interested in learning more about the Cricut?  It’s the best thing that I bought for myself this year.  Would you like to see a tutorial? Let me know in the comment section below!

DIY Barre Socks

By Barre Thug Alicia

Supplies:

Socks, Puffy Paint, Cardstock Scraps, Cardboard

Directions:

  1. Wash and dry socks. (No fabric softener.)
  2. Used Cricut to make stencil on cardstock.
  3. Insert cardboard. I used cardboard insert from purchasing. (Recycle!)
  4. Use puffy paint to trace stencil and add dots or design.
  5. Follow directions on the paint for drying time.
  6. There you have it DIY grippy socks that are Barre ready!
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Another Cricut project! After you paint the letters on, add some dots with the paint to make a pretty pattern. I did dots but you can try hearts with your next project.

These socks can be personalized so use your imagination.  They also double as lounging around the house socks—a perfect activity for Mother’s Day.  Let Mom put her feet up (in style!).

Get crafting!  Mom will love these gifts.  Better yet, do a project together with her after you eat the breakfast that Barre Thug Q will post about later.  Post your photos for us too! Please share–we’d love to see your work!  Find us on Instagram @barrethugs

 

Liege Barre & Pole

Instructor Bio: Michelle

Name- Michelle

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 Background-Instructor since February 2018 after being a member of the Liege studio for two years

 Schedule- Barre on Tuesday at 6:00 pm

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Come hang with Michelle! She’ll show you how to do some wall sit exercises which strengthen and tone your abs, glutes, and legs.

 Barre style- I love working multiple muscle groups and really focusing on small movements with lots of reps. My classes typically feature a cardio burst at the beginning to get the heart rate up, followed by lots of toning and sculpting!

 Favorite exercise(s)- Anything to work the side butt, inner thighs and shoulders.

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An exercise targeting the hamstrings and core.

 Pro-level workout tip– Focusing on small movements will give you big results.

 Instructor insight– Have fun with it and don’t take yourself too seriously!

 

Click on this link to find more information or schedule your first complimentary class:

http://www.liegebarreandpole.com/

Follow us on Facebook or  #barrethugs and #beliege.

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