Monday, April 14, 2014

Ladies' Weekend + A Giveaway

This weekend was absolutely wonderful.

On Friday morning, my best girlfriends and I headed to St. Louis and met up with Alicia's sister, Tamara. We figured Alicia getting married was the perfect "excuse" for a super chill ladies' weekend/bachelorette party.

Me and BFF: backseat buddies.
About six hours after we left Des Moines, we arrived in the 'Lou and immediately started wandering since we were a tad too early to get checked into the hotel.

First, we headed out to eat, as we were all a bit hangry. We started walking toward the Arch and stumbled upon the Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar.

I was still trying to be relatively Whole30-compliant, mainly because I didn't want to spend the duration of the trip in the bathroom.

So, I first ordered a vodka-soda with lime and sucked that down like there was no tomorrow. And, I got a little tipsy. I mean, when you don't drink for 47 (or something) days, that'll happen.

After that was gone, I ordered a strawberry cider from Crown Valley Brewing. It smelled exactly like Pop Rocks and was really, really tasty: not too overly sweet, but just enough.

For lunch, I opted for a create-your-own burger with two patties, mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, and avocados. I ate it without the bun and only had a few French fries. I was pretty proud of myself for not "straying too far" for lunch.

After lunch, we headed down to the Arch since it was only a block or so away -- and absolutely gorgeous outside.

It was very arch-y. I mean, it was cool, I guess, because it's a national landmark and all, but it wasn't anything super amazing. It was definitely neat to see, and it was pretty cool seeing it from pretty much everywhere in the city.

After we did our requisite site-seeing, we headed back to the hotel and checked in. The rooms we got had a pretty freaking awesome view:

Yep. This is literally from our hotel window. We saw directly into Busch stadium, and who was playing? The Cardinals and the Cubs.

It was crazy.

And, it was pretty good people-watching from 18 stories up.

After we all freshened up for a bit (and ate some snacks and drank some wine), we headed out for another walk around the city as we headed toward Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar for dinner.

Unfortunately, they didn't take reservations, but we were able to steal a reserved table (and the reserved table tent that we used to indicate our VIP status the rest of the weekend) at the front of the bar, where we enjoyed a bottle of bubbly.

We really liked the ambiance of the bar, as it was super chill and classy. When we were seated at our table upstairs, however, our love of the ambiance changed a bit: it was sooooooo loud and pretty crammed together. We could barely hear each other from across the table.

What the restaurant lacked in acoustics and space, however, they made up with in food.

Holy yum.

For an appetizer, we ordered a couple of different cheese & charcuterie plates: the manchego with quince paste plate and the belletoile brie plate that came with an amazing orange marmalade.

For dinner, I opted for something somewhat Whole30-compliant: Braised Pork Belly w/ succotash, crispy celery slaw, and rosemary-garlic glaze.

I apologize for the horrible photo: lighting was a bit tricky.

The loads of lima beans obviously weren't super Whole30, but I feel like I did a pretty good job overall. And, it was really, really tasty.

We also split a bottle of malbec during dinner.

On our way home, we goofed off in the sculpture garden a bit because, well, we're 30-somethings on a bachelorette party. What else would we do?

They had two bunny statues, so of course, I had to pose with one of them. (Since we saw children twerking on the statues earlier, we figured sitting on them was just fine.)

On Friday night, we turned in pretty early, as we had a big day planned for Saturday. (Oh, and we're old and somewhat responsible.)

Tamara, Alicia's sister, somehow scored us free breakfast at the hotel, so we headed downstairs bright and early to cash in on that:

Again, I did a pretty darn good job: loads of fruit, bacon, sausage, and eggs. The eggs, however, were most definitely from powder, and I ate maybe half of them before saying no thank you.

I also may or may not have inhaled a cranberry muffin -- and loved every single bite of it.

After breakfast, we headed out for a stroll around the city yet again. The ultimate destination was the City Museum (again, we're 30-years-old: what else would we do?), but we took a few detours along the way.

First, we went to Left Bank Books, a really cute independent bookstore in downtown. Katie finished her book on the drive down to St. Louis and needed a new one, and we all just love looking at books. We definitely killed about 45 minutes there. Sadly, I only bought a couple of cards: the books were quite pricey, and I didn't want to carry 'em around all day.

Second, we stopped at MacroSun International, a really cute fair-trade store that specializes in clothing and gifts from Southeast Asia.

I spent a whole $2.00 on some new Nag Champa.

Finally, we made it to the City Museum. Essentially, this is a huge-ass playground. The museum is 600,000 square feet of sculptures of unique and found objects, all of which children and adults can play on.

First, Alicia, Tamara, and I climbed up a treehouse-type structure until we were at the very, very top of the building.

Yes, I realize this is not the outfit to be wearing.
We had to shimmy through tiny spaces, across wrought-iron rungs, and over and under various limbs. And then to get down, we had to slide down a twister slide, something I haven't done for, oh, 20 years.

But that tiny slide was nothing compared to what we did next:

The three of us climbed ten stories just to slide down the biggest slide ever.

And then I was super sweaty and decided to chill outside with Mindy and Katie -- where I had a cider beer (that tasted like porta-potty) and, I'm not going to lie, a Snickers bar. It was sooooooo good.

After we had had our fill of playing (and children screeching), we headed across the street to Alpha Brewing Company, a taproom that my sister's college roommate and her husband opened last year.

We loved the space, especially the garage-door patio.

It was decorated really cool with a lot of wrought-iron fixtures and old coins.

And, most importantly, the beer was pretty darn good. I was very, very impressed.

I obviously couldn't decide which beer to order, so I opted for a flight. Five samples only cost eight dollars. How awesome is that?!

After drinking quite a bit of beer, we decided that we should probably find something to eat. So, we walked down the street to Pi Pizzeria, home of President Obama's favorite pizza in St. Louis.

It was so, so good.

First, I ordered the Pi Squared cocktail, some combination of vodka and basil and I don't know what else. It was so good, though, that I may or may not have had two.

We also split a couple of appetizers: Pi Bites (fontina, mozzarella, volpi prosciutto and rosemary, breaded and baked with a spicy tomato sauce) and Roasted Vegetable Bruschetta (portabello mushroom, zucchini, red pepper and red onion, with ricotta cheese and balsamic reduction, served on companion bakery rustic bread). Both appetizers were to die for.

For d

We had the Thin-Crust Maplewood, which was mozzarella, spicy homemade Italian sausage, cherry peppers, fontina, and fresh basil; and we had the Deep-Dish South-Side Classico, which was mozzarella, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions.

Holy cow.

There was zero caring about Whole30 happening here.

You guys. If you're in St. Louis, please hit up Pi. I promise you won't be disappointed.

After a delicious dinner, we headed home to freshen up for the night -- and to take advantage of the free-drink coupons Tamara was also able to score.

Mindy (my friend from summer orientation at Drake -- 13 years ago!) and me

BFF, me, and Mindy -- the three roommates

Me, Tamara, Mindy, BFF, and Alicia -- the whole crew
After getting ready in the room, we enjoyed our free cocktails (a vodka-soda for me) while people-watching the prom-goers enter the hotel lobby. Let me tell you the theme of prom dresses this year: lots and lots and lots and lots of bling and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of tulle.

We finished our drinks and walked a mile or so to the arena where we saw Chelsea Handler's show (and drank yet another beer). I thought both Chelsea and her opener were quite hilarious. I know Chelsea is super raunchy and very non-PC and inappropriate, but I enjoyed her for the most part. There were a few things I wish she would've left out (the R word, for example) since I think she's hilarious without needing to be offensive, but oh well, I suppose.

She was quite different than when I saw Jim Gaffigan a few weeks ago: that's for sure!

After our comedy evening, we headed back to the hotel and were asleep by 11:00. That's how we old ladies roll.

This morning, we woke up for another free breakfast

Mostly healthy again, minus the biscuit and gravy and muffin.
before hitting the road.

We stopped for a gas station lunch (ice-cream Snickers and caramel popcorn -- oh yeah) about halfway home, and I walked into my house around 3:00 this afternoon.

It was an absolutely wonderful trip with the best friends in the universe. I need more ladies' weekends in my life. Love those girls.

But now: back to reality. :)

I heard a lot of interest in the product after my review of Matcha (Green Tea Powder), and Kiss Me Organics has agreed to give one bag (that'll last you approximately six weeks!) to one of my readers. All you need to do to enter is follow the Rafflecopter directions below. The giveaway is open until Friday! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How do you get back on track with nutrition (and fitness) after time away?

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  1. You have no idea how bad I wanted to reach through my phone when I saw your fries and burger!!! Looks like you had an awesome time. The brewing place looks amazing, my boyfriend would die!

    1. Kaela, it was SO good -- even without the bun! And the brewery was awesome -- I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in the 'Lou!

  2. Such a fun weekend, sounds like you had a blast!!

    1. Thanks, Alisha! Ladies' weekends are ALWAYS fun! :)

  3. Holy yummy food and drinks! I still have no tolerance from not drinking for about a year due to pregnancy and nursing. That pizza looks so good! Glad you had a great time!

    1. Yeah...I was definitely some level of tipsy nearly the entire weekend. I'm a total cheap date now! :)

  4. Fun weekend with great girlfriends! And I want that vodka basil drink right now!

    1. Mom, it was SO good. Please recreate it for me. K thanks. :)

  5. So excited for your giveaway! Looks like you had a blast this weekend!

  6. So much fun!!! Thanks for the chance to win!

    1. You're welcome! Thank you for reading! Hope you have a great week! :)

  7. I had a bachelorette party this weekend too! Great weekend for fun with your girlfriends! I am glad you treated yourself too - I am two weeks down and two to go, so I had a couple drinks (vodka soda) and stayed on plan other than that... but you finished it and deserve a little reward!

    1. Good for you, Melissa! It's SO hard staying on track sometimes when EVERYONE around you is imbibing like crazy, but I'd say we both did a pretty darn good job!

  8. Just started reading your blog about a week ago after stumbling across it...I really like it and I've been checking it daily. :) Keep it coming.

    Looks like you had a blast (and so many delicious beverages!)

    Great giveaway!


    1. Thanks, Cait! The weekend was SO much fun -- I mean, how can a weekend away with girlfriends NOT be fun? :) It's always nice to get back in a routine, though. :) Thanks for reading!

  9. Yummy food, drinks and girlfriends! What more can you ask for!

    1. Totally what I'm thinking, Ellen! I need more girls' weekends in my life! Have a great day!

  10. Sounds like you had a really fun weekend. I'm jealous haha. Thanks for the great giveaway, I've been wanting to try matcha green tea powder!

    1. I'm digging it, Jordan! Good luck in the giveaway! Have a great day!

  11. Wow, sounds like an absolutely fantastic weekend! Love that amazing view from your room, plus all of that delicious food! Glad you had such a great time with your ladies.

    1. It was so much fun, B! I totally wish it didn't have to end -- but my bank account is glad it did. :)