Savor A Taste of London Luxury at the Ballantyne Hotel 

Savor A Taste of London Luxury at the Ballantyne Hotel 

One of the most luxurious ways to spend a weekend afternoon in Charlotte, NC is to have tea at The Ballantyne Hotel. Even before you go into one of the fanciest hotels in the Queen City, you’re met by a gorgeous fountain signifying you’re walking into luxury. Once inside, you’re immediately surrounded by grand chandeliers, plush seating, and expansive windows overlooking the former golf course.

Cup of tea at the Ballantyne Resort

After taking in the decadent lobby, you make your way over to the host station to get your seat for tea. Rather than sitting at a stuffy table, the Ballantyne Hotel has all kinds of different seating options for tea. Larger groups may be sat on stylish sofas with a table in the middle. Some people sit at adorable tables for two. Others are in gorgeous, high-backed chairs that play up the sense of royalty. It doesn’t matter which table you get because the experience is amazing regardless.

Once seated, your ever-attentive server comes by to take your tea preference. Even though you’re surrounded by luxury, the servers are down-to-earth, friendly, and always willing to ensure your experience is top-notch.

The Terrific Tea Choices

The Ballantyne Hotel Afternoon Tea features a wide selection of  Rare Tea Company teas. Rare Tea Company is the official tea company of the British Royal Family. They focus on sustainability in the tea trade, so you can feel good about the tea you are drinking. You can choose from teas like the always-faithful English Breakfast Tea to more exotic, floral, white teas. 

One of Ballantyne’s signature teas is the Emperor’s Breakfast. It’s a black tea that has notes of caramel and chocolate. It’s dark and sumptuous, warming you from the inside out. 

Another popular option is the Wild Rooibus tea, which the hotel describes as “A richly delicious infusion with deep earthy notes, bright red berries, and cedar. Can be beautifully enhanced by the addition of maple syrup and a twist of lemon zest.”

The tea is all looseleaf and each person gets a personal teapot full to themselves. The servers come around to ensure the water is still hot, so you never feel like you’re going to run out of tea.

In true afternoon tea fashion, you also have cream and sugar cubes to add to your drink. 

Amazing Food Choices

Tray of food from the Ballantyne Resort

Once you pick your tea flavor out, the server comes back with a tray stacked with sumptuous, mouth-watering treats. Whether you are looking for sweet or savory, it’s all beyond delicious. Ballantyne Hotel says their tea is based on traditional English tea but with a Southern flair. 

The savory selections are different types of tea sandwiches. The menu rotates from week to week based on the season. The sandwiches might be chicken salad served in a mini pie crust or smoked salmon with cream cheese on rye.  There are usually four or five different savory selections. Each savory bite is more delicious than the last.

After you’ve finished all of your savories, it’s time for Ballantyne’s freshly made scones. These are perfect and fluffy, so similar to the ones you get in London. They are served with traditional cream and jam or curd. These are also seasonally rotated, so every time you come, you can experience different flavors. 

The final course of the afternoon tea is probably the best – the scrumptious sweets! These sweets can include french macarons, cream puffs filled with seasonal flavors, perfectly crumbly cookies, or decadent chocolate mousse. Each is carefully crafted to match the theme of the tea.

The award-winning pastry chefs take care to create edible chocolate cups, perfectly cooked cream puffs, and adorably frosted cupcakes.

Having tea at the Ballanyne Hotel is a must-do in Charlotte. The entire experience is drenched in comfort and luxury at the same time. There’s no rush while you are there. You can just sit, relax, drink your tea, and have a spectacular afternoon with your family or friends. While the setting and the menu might seem pretentious, the ambiance is welcoming, the food is delicious, and the staff is incredibly friendly. 

Here are some more essential details about Tea at Ballantyne hotel:

When is tea held at the Ballantyne Hotel?

The Ballantyne Hotel offers Afternoon Tea every Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Reservations can be made by calling the hotel. They have seasonal menus that change often. It’s important to call ahead because it usually sells out.

Who will enjoy afternoon tea at the Ballantyne Hotel?

It can be for anyone! It’s great for a girl’s afternoon out with your best girlfriends. It is also an amazing event for families – a dashing father having tea with his adorable daughter, sisters laughing and eating together, and moms and daughters having their own special time. It can be a fantastic date idea, too. 

How long does Afternoon Tea take at the Ballantyne Hotel?

Generally, it lasts about an hour. Take your time to savor every bite and every sip. Just enjoy the surroundings and the deliciousness.

What should I wear to Ballantyne Tea?

Dress to impress! While you could wear just about whatever you want, it’s such a fun treat to dress up in a cute tea dress and fascinator. What other occasion do you have to wear a fascinator? It’s also family-friendly, and nothing is cuter than seeing little girls sipping their fancy tea in princess dresses. If you’re not feeling up to that, you can always wear a cute blouse with a nice pair of jeans or trousers. There really is a large mix of outfits and styles at tea.

How much food is there at Ballantyne Tea?

When the trays first come out, it might not seem like enough food, but it definitely is enough for a meal. You will probably be struggling to finish that last delicious pastry, but it’s so good, you will find a way. With the savories, the warm scones, and the sweets, you’ll be full before you know. Also, you’ll have unlimited hot tea to wash it all down.
Is there alcohol available at Ballantyne Tea?

For an extra cost, you can upgrade to the “Royal Afternoon Tea”, which is the same as regular tea but with a glass of Moët & Chandon Imperial Champagne. If you are looking for an extra-special afternoon, this is definitely the way to go.

Chocolate dessert from the Ballantyne Hotel
13.1 miles of misery

13.1 miles of misery

Why am I doing this?

Well, I just finished my second half marathon. It wasn’t fun. All of my dreams of PRs and easy runs went out the window as soon as I felt the humidity at the start line.

I never got in a groove on this run. The first three miles weren’t bad, but usually I’m golden for miles 4-6, and this time it was a STRUGGLE.

This was the first run in months that I had to deal with humidity. I had gotten so used to running in the cool, humidity-less winter air that I forgot how much harder wet air makes running. It felt like I was running through a swamp.

I was doing “okay” through 8 miles. It was a struggle, but I was making it. I was chugging NUUN like it was my job. I was slogging along and every mile was getting slower. Finally, at mile 9, I just stopped. I couldn’t run anymore.

I had a GIANT, NASTY blister forming on my pinky toe. I couldn’t breathe. I was tired. My neck started hurting. My back was hurting. I sent Leah on her way, since she wasn’tdying as much as I was.

By this time, I was running along the Strip in Myrtle Beach. There was fun and games and roller coasters and seagulls. It started to be fun to just look around.

I was feeling very down on myself for failing. I had a plan, and I wasn’t going to make it. But I literally didn’t know how to quit. I had no idea how I would get back to the finish line unless I finished the race. I knew I just had to keep going.

I mostly walked for the last 4 miles. I still wanted to finish under 3 hours, so there were portions that I ran. I pushed myself to run to the next street sign, the next stop light, just over that last hill.

I found a pack of other people who were pushing to finish. I laughed with them. We made fun of ourselves for paying to do this. We pushed each other. We made snide comments about the very loud person with her obnoxious cheering behind us. Therewere people dressed up like the Knights Who Say Ni, including the coconuts to sound like horses. There were people cheering for us.

I could finally hear the finish line. I saw mile 13. I started running. I crossed the finish line running and smiling at 2:59:04. It was under 3 hours. I finished. I completed 13.1 miles.

Oh yeah. For the medal.

My toe was like 10 times the normal size, and I was sweating through all of my clothes. I was also freezing because the sun decided to disappear. But I finished.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the race I wanted, but it doesn’t matter. I still went all 13.1 miles and that’s all that matters. I finished.


Slogging away…

Slogging away…

Ok, so it’s been a minute. Or a month. Whichever. I can’t believe how quickly time flies. I leave for Alaska one week from TOMORROW!

Once again, I’ve been pretty inconsistent with my running and training. I completely fell off the wagon diet-wise, and gained back almost 10 of the pounds that I lost over the past few months.

Last week, I was all set to get back on track. I already had plans to bring my lunch most days, and only eating out at healthier places. The week started out well, but by

Sometimes you gotta tape an ice pack to your leg and get through the day.

Wednesday, I had pushed too hard and had a minor calf sprain.

I spent Wednesday iced up, and thought I had lost all of my momentum. Nothing makes you want to exercise like not being able to exercise. Of course on Thursday and Friday, I wanted to run, but I knew I had to rest.

On Sunday, I woke up at 6:00 a.m. to go to the Greenway with my sister to run. It was hard getting up earlier on Sunday than I do during the week, but with summer hitting in full force, it was either first thing in the morning or not at all.

My sister’s plan was to go 4 miles, and I wanted to do that too, but I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. Luckily, she was there to push me along. I felt my calf tighten up a few times, but I knew I could keep pushing. I finished all four miles, and I am extremely proud of myself. It was hot and sweaty, but I did it.

Runs like this are so amazing to remind me of what I can accomplish and how far I’ve come. My body can do so much more than I think it can. I am made for more than just sitting on the couch.

I have one more week until vacation, so I have one more week to show how hard I can work. I’m energized to start a new week, and I’m looking forward to see what all it brings.

Sweaty and tired, but I did it!

Countdown to Alaska!

Countdown to Alaska!

Can you believe March is almost over? We only have one more week! Where has the month gone??

Well, the great news is that every day that goes by brings me closer to my Alaska cruise! Only 50 days until we fly to Seattle!

Last week, I spent time trying to plan my 24 hours in Seattle. I’m sad that I don’t have more time, so I’m going to try to pack as much in as possible without killing myself. It’s only Day 1 of my vacation, so I don’t want to overdo it.

So far, my plan is the following:

  • Get from the airport to the hotel – We still haven’t had figured this part out. We’re trying to figure out how we are going to do it. There are a ton of options. There’s Uber, a million different private tour transports, and taxis.
  • Once we get to the hotel, I doubt we’ll be able to check in, but at least we can drop our stuff off.
  • After the hotel, we get to start the fun stuff! First stop is going to be Pike’s Place Market. I’ve spent hours pouring over menus, reviews and websites trying to figure out what I’m going to eat when I get there. I can’t wait to see all the sights and sounds. I want to catch a fish and eat all the food.
  • Next, we’re planning on wandering up to see the Space Needle. Due to the time constraints and financial constraints, I don’t think we’re going to go up in the Needle. That makes me sad, but at least we’ll be able to see it. And maybe hit up a gift shop!
  • Once we explore that area, we’re going to do a Duck Boat tour. I’ve read some good reviews and have had a great time on other duck tours, so I’m really looking forward to this.
  • After the Duck Boat, it will be time to eat again. The next two months will be spent searching for some sort of delicious dinner. Trying to find a restaurant that is cheap, delicious, close by and appeals to 5 very different appetites will be interesting, but I’m up for the challenge.
  • Our final destination for the night will be the Seattle Great Wheel. I’m looking forward to this for some great views of the area.

So this is my rough itinerary for our day in Seattle. I’m so excited to experience the city and add a new state to my list.

Have you ever been to Seattle? What are some can’t-miss sights and restaurants? Am I missing something?

Vista de Seattle, Washington, Estados Unidos, 2017-09-02 by Diego Delso (Wikimedia Commons)

Goodbye, Trusty Shoes

Goodbye, Trusty Shoes

Well, it’s officially time to retire my Brooks Ravena running shoes.

These are the shoes that got me through my first “real” 5k.

They were the ones that I wore when I ran for 5 miles straight without walking.

They were with me for a freezing cold 5.5K at midnight on New Year’s. They were with me for a rainy 15K that I was terrified to even start.

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs  together (Literally. We’ve been up and down a lot of hills together. And stairs.)

But now it’s time to move on. Look at these new shiny babies! I’m looking forward to more miles, more hills, more rain and more sunshine. Let’s start this adventure together, shoes!

Shamrock and Roll!

Shamrock and Roll!

img_0599OK, remember when I said I was back on the wagon a couple of weeks ago? Yeah, I lied. But now I am. I think.

Saturday was another race – Shamrock 4 Miler. Since I had barely run at all since the 15k, I didn’t have very high expectations. My sister and I had already agreed that we wouldn’t run the whole thing. We were planning on taking walk breaks. The last time we attempted to run, we weren’t even able to run 2 miles without taking a walk break.

Flash forward to race day, when our friend Victoria informed us she was planning on running the whole 4 miles. We started off running, and we were able to finish the whole thing without walking. It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to something.

img_0601This race served as a reminder that I am stronger than my excuses. My body is capable of more than I give myself credit for. I’ve worked hard for several months, and I need to remember to keep pushing myself.

It’s so easy to fall into old traps and old habits, but I can’t do that anymore. Every race this year is going to be better than the last, and by November 3, I WILL be able to run the whole Half Marathon.

Guess who’s going to Italy?

Guess who’s going to Italy?

Well, I was sitting at my desk on Thursday, minding my own business,haq when Groupon sent me a very dangerous email. Now all of a sudden, I’ve booked a trip to Italy in September.

It’s ridiculous how happy that makes me. Ever since I’ve booked the trip, I’ve been googling places to go and things to eat. I absolutely cannot wait for the trip, but honestly, my favorite part is the planning before it.

I adore looking at the pictures of faraway places and dreaming of when I’ll be there. I love making crazy plans for busy days bustling through the streets of Rome or driving (!!) through the tiny, twisting roadways of Tuscany.

I love searching for tours, and tickets, and itineraries. I love trying to figure out how best to absorb the history and culture of where I’m going.

I absolutely cannot wait for the trip, but luckily, I have six whole months to savor the anticipation of going.

In case anyone is wondering where I’m getting my travel ideas, this site has been a lifesaver:

Visit a City

I’m also a huge fan of booking tours here:


And of course, I love saving all of my ideas to my lovely Pinterest board:

My Europe Trip Pinterest Board

I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated with any news or fun finds for the trip, and there will be LOTS of pictures when I come back.

Until then, ciao!

P.S. This is where I’m staying for part of the trip. HOLY COW!


Back on the horse!

Back on the horse!

It’s been over a week since I’ve written, and during that time, I’m basically just gone off the rails. I have eaten everything in site, existing on cookies and soda. I haven’t

exercised. I’ve gone back to watching mindless TV and I’ve stopped writing.

That ends today. Well, not the eating part. I ate like doo-doo today. But I did go running again, and it felt awesome. I ran for 1.35 miles, which is nothing compared to the 4 miles I’m running in less than 3 weeks, but it’s a good start.

That face when you run for the first time in almost 3 weeks

It’s amazing how much of running is mental. The last couple of times I’ve attempted to go out running, I’ve convinced myself I couldn’t do it. I ran a few steps, then I gave up and went home. There was no reason for it, but I let my mind overtake my desire to be better.

Today, my entire focus during my run was the idea that my body was made to move. It was made to exert energy. It was made to push the limits. It was made to get off the couch and get into the fresh air.

The feeling while running is so hard to describe. It’s an amazing love/hate thing that my body does. It’s painful and exhausting, but it’s proof that I’m alive and capable of more than I ever thought.

Tonight, I’m reupping my commitment to working out, to running, to myself. This is it. Welcome back to the new me.

Three Questions

Three Questions

img_0554So I’ve been down and out this week with the flu. It seems like everyone is getting it this year. Luckily, I had the “good” strain, so I only had a low grade fever and it felt like a pickup truck hit me, not a semi truck, like those who got the “bad” strain.

I think I’m on the downhill side, but while I was lying around doing nothing, I was thinking a lot about how to improve my life. Months ago (maybe years), I tore this out of a magazine. I don’t even remember which one, so I can’t properly source it.

It’s three questions to ask yourself every morning. I try to remember to do it every day when I’m getting ready, but I’ll admit, it’s really hard.

The first one is “What will make me healthy today?” I try to keep up with this one by running, doing 21 Day Fix exercises and attempting to eat healthy.  This week, it has been sleeping 20 hours a day trying to kick this stupid virus.

The second question is one of the hardest for me. “What will make me feel connected today?” I am an introvert. Probably to a fault. I don’t like interacting with people, and I don’t usually seek out connection. This is an important one for me to keep in mind so that I don’t just shut myself out from the world. I have plenty of friends and family members, but I just need to remember to connect with them on a daily basis and get out of my bubble.

The third question is what has been driving my life recently. “What will give me a sense of purpose today?” I’m trying to learn that I am not my job. Although I can get some fulfillment from work, I need to find purpose elsewhere as well. That is one of the reasons that I started this blog. I need to get back to my passions of writing and reading, and I need to develop my new passion of running. I need things in life to give me purpose so I’m not just going through the motions every day.

Well, this one was short and sweet, but that’s what the flu will do to you. It makes you introspective, but takes away all of your thinking skills.

Dreaming of Barcelona

Dreaming of Barcelona

Now that my race is over, I’m back to daydreaming about far off places. As the saying goes, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list”.

One of my favorite places that I have visited was Barcelona. The city is just gorgeous and the people were so nice. I loved the history, the architecture, and I especially loved the food.

The highlight of my all-too-brief trip to Barcelona was a tapas tour through the Food Lovers Company. We did it our first night in the city and it was a great introduction to the area.

The tour guide (Aleix) was fantastic. He had so much knowledge about the city and talked to us about politics, history, and food.

The food was all stuff I would never have thought to try on my own. We went to 5 small tapas bars. One was literally a hole in the wall with no sign, but the food was ridiculous.

There was a wide variety of dishes, including fried fish, fresh sardines, black pudding with chickpeas, ham and chicken croquettes, and amazing desserts.

If anyone goes to Barcelona, I HIGHLY recommend this tour.

Has anyone else been? Did you have a favorite food there?