Sunday, September 25, 2016

Barre Fly Studio -- Canton, OH

I've been interested in trying the classes at Barre Fly since I moved to Green about eight months ago. Of course, there's a yoga studio down the street, so I've used that as my primary form of exercise whenever I get around to getting out of the house to take a class.

During the month of September Barre Fly offered a special called the Barre Crawl -- for $50 you had one month to try each of their most popular classes once, and their (H)HIIT (hammock high intensity) class twice. A single drop in class costs $15.00, so the price of $6.25 per class was too hard to pass-up, especially since I'm working on getting toned and sculpted for my wedding in about a year.

I tested all of these classes for you!

Barre Fly Breakdown: The very first class I signed-up for was the Barre Fly Breakdown taught by Laura. It was my first time at the studio and Laura was incredibly friendly and welcoming when I arrived. A few other people were there for their second class, so it made me feel a little better. We spent 80% of the class working with the barre and 20% working with the aerial silks to do core work. This class moves at a slower pace with a lot more explanation to make sure that you're doing the moves correctly. I left very sore, but the hour long classes didn't drag on and when we were done I couldn't believe that an hour had already passed.

Barre: I took my next class about a week later. This class didn't involve working with the aerial silks and was modeled more after what I imagine a traditional barre class to be like. Megan was the teacher of this class and like Laura the week before she was incredibly welcoming and helpful. I struggled with the classes a little, I think I was doing some of the moves incorrectly and not getting as much of a burn as I could have. I woke-up the next day not quite as sore as I had been after Barre Fly Breakdown, but once again it was hard to believe class was over when it ended -- even though the work-out is hard, it doesn't feel like an hour.

Barre Fly: The third class I signed up for was my first weekend class and the first time I took two classes so close together, I had only taken the Barre class three days before. This class was also with Megan, despite it being on a Saturday morning I was surprised to see only a few other people in the class. I had taken two other classes prior to this and was pleasantly surprised that we were doing new and different moves.

(H)HIT: Make no mistake, this class is incredibly difficult. The two mistakes I made were not bringing shoes and not wearing a high-impact sports bra, a cute yoga bra is not going to cut it, there is a lot of jumping involved in this class. Half of the class used resistance bands threaded through the aerial hammock hardware to create resistance and spring for jumping. The other half of the class used the aerial hammocks for core work. I'm really not cut out for high intensity work, I'm pretty out of shape, so this was the longest half hour of my life and exponentially more difficult than any of the barre based classes I had already taken. If you want a really good cardio work-out, this is the class for that.

Pilates: I've never taken a pilates class before, so I thought this one was interesting. One thing I've appreciated about this studio is that in every class I attended there was a wide range of ages and body types. Pilates was the first class I attended where I was easily the youngest participant and also the first class where it seemed like the others were weekly attenders. Pilates is only offered at Barre Fly once a week, so that's probably why.

Barre Booty Lift: I'm already sore from my Pilates and Barre marathon on Thursday, but Barre Booty Lift is only 45 minutes. This class was also taught by Megan who is one of my favorite teachers here at Barre Fly, she's encouraging and helpful during the classes. Although there was a small amount of arm work in this class it mainly focused on the booty -- bonus points to Megan for her motivational booty playlist for this class. I wasn't quite as sore when I left this one.

(H)HIT: This class is always taught by Michaela, although I knew better what to expect during this class, it still wasn't one of my favorites. I think as I incorporate more cardio into my work-outs this one would become a better fit for me.

Aerial Yoga: Michaela also teaches the aerial yoga classes on Tuesday nights. Prior to my aerial yoga class at Barre Fly I had taken it once before at a different studio. Michaela did a really great job putting up with me, I was absolutely terrible at aerial yoga and spent a lot of time falling out of the poses all together and struggling to get myself back into them.

Of all the classes I took I really enjoyed Barre Fly Breakdown, Barre Fly, Barre, and Barre Booty Lift. I appreciate that with the class pass I can take the other classes at some point to switch up my work-out, but overall I was very happy.

I was incredibly happy with the quality of classes that I took at Barre Fly, I've already signed myself up for another class pass. Although it will take a little longer for me to see the results of all of the hard work I've been doing at the barre, I know that the toning and definition in my arms and legs is going to become really apparent. I've left every class feeling sore, sometimes in places that I didn't even realize I should be working during a session. I've been recommending Barre Fly to all of my friends and can't wait to bring some of them to class with me next month.

My rating for Barre Fly: 


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Empress Taytu -- Cleveland, OH

Two Saturdays ago we made the trip up to Cleveland to have dinner at Empress Taytu. I first heard of Empress Taytu at the Akron Coffee Roaster's event that I attended at the Akron Art Museum in January. In Ethiopia it is traditional to perform a coffee ceremony after dinner, and the Akron Coffee Roasters highly recommended visiting Empress Taytu to experience that tradition. You can make a reservation through Empress Taytu's website which I suggest doing, we unknowingly booked on Ethiopian New Year and they were much busier than usual.

Empress Taytu has a full bar, Dave and I started off our meal with cocktails from off the menu, but some of our friends just ordered standard drinks.

I ordered the Anagew (translated as "Knock You Down") a mix of mango juice, orange juice, vodka, and grenadine. Dave ordered Empress Taytu made with dark rum, grenadine, triple sec, and orange juice. 

Our server warned us that the place was pretty busy, so Dave and I ordered an appetizer to split before our meal arrived. We selected the Sambusa made with lentils, which was served with a delightfully spicy sauce. These reminded me of a more crispy Indian samosa, we both really enjoyed the spicy dipping sauce that went along with the Sambusa.

Next our meals came out. One unique feature about Ethiopian cuisine is that you eat it using your hands, you're provided with warm towels to cleanse your hands before the meal and plenty of injera bread to pick up all of your food. Of course, forks are available upon request, but part of the fun is the experience.

Dave and I split the Vegetarian Combo:  kik (yellow split pea), misir (lentils), gomen (collards), tikil gomen (cabbage), and kai’sir (beets & potatoes)

My brother ordered the Meat and Vegetable Combo: Combination of two meat dishes – dorowat (chicken) and sega tibs (beef) – and three vegetables: kik-alicha, misir, and tikil gomen.

Another friend ordered the Shrimp Tibs,

Overall, I liked what we ordered, the kik (yellow split peas) was definitely my favorite of what we tried. To me Ethiopian food seemed really similar to Indian food, but with less spices added. That's not to say the Ehiopian food wasn't flavorful, just that when I think of Indian food I think of spicy, and none of the portions on our plate were spicy.

We added the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony to our meal -- make sure to let your server know before your dinner is started that way they have time to roast the beans. The coffee beans are roasted in the kitchen with cloves and a mixture of other spices, but they will be brought out to your table so you can get a whiff of that amazing coffee aroma.

The Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony is described by Empress Taytu as:
Special after-dinner treat, a traditional, leisurely ceremony starting with the roasting of green coffee Ethiopian beans in the kitchen, the smoking pan of aromatic beans brought to your table. The coffee is served from a jebena (clay pot), poured into small traditional coffee cups, with incense burning on the side. Served with ambasha bread

Next there came a platter of mugs, ambasha bread, and burning frankincense. Our server explained that Ethiopia is a largely Orthodox Christian country and that frankincense (one of the gifts the three wise men bestowed upon baby Jesus) is traditionally burned during the coffee ceremony. According to the Espresso Coffee Guide frankincense evokes memories of religious ceremonies and brings a reverence to the coffee ceremony itself. 

The jibuna or traditional clay coffee pot, we were told is incredibly breakable and that most people bring three or four home from Ethiopia in hopes that one will make the trip back home intact. 

Something else I learned via Espresso Coffee Guide is that it's acceptable to have one or three cups of the coffee, never two. Don't worry, we all drank plenty of coffee. This coffee is thick and has quite the mouth-feel. It is also full of lots of caffeine, it didn't take long for most of us to perk-up and become chatty. 

Although the kitchen was a little slow due to the unexpected increase in business, our server went out of her way to make us feel welcome and to make sure we were happy. The entire restaurant is decorated with traditional Ethiopian items and if you have a smaller party you may be seated at a mesob or traditional basket table. Behind our table was a board of numerous articles about Empress Taytu and Emperor Menelek II and on the t.v. screens there were Ethiopian music videos playing on a loop.

My rating for Empress Taytu:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Rail -- Canton, OH

Two vegetarians and a carnivore walk into a burger joint...sounds like the start of a joke right? Earlier this week Dave and I had lunch at The Rail with a friend -- now this is a burger place, so it wasn't really somewhere I had ever considered eating before I saw a friend post their veggie burger on Instagram. Between the salads, appetizers, veggie burger option, and veggie sandwich I figured that I would be able to find something great to eat.

The Rail is an all Ohio restaurant, aside from the Canton location there are three other NorthEast Ohio locations. The Rail serves 100% Ohio beef and 1/2 pound burger patties (that's a lot of beef) in addition to Ohio brews and hand dipped milkshakes. The Rail is owned by restaurateur/chef Mike Mariola who also owns The City Square Steakhouse in Wooster.

Although The Rail is in Belden Village, we happily took advantage of the patio and didn't deal with too much traffic noise which was surprising due to the proximity to all of the busy roads.

To start we ordered two appetizers the Fried Pickles and the Gouda Mac and Cheese Bites. Both were good, but those Gouda Mac and Cheese bites might be some of the best I've ever had, the gouda really helps create a nicely flavored macaroni and cheese.

I also went for a Peanut Butter Brownie milkshake, peanut butter is seriously my kryptonite.

I kept my order simple with the Caprese Salad. 

Dave ordered the Hippie Pita which was topped with mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella, and hummus. He also added a side of fries.

Our friend Steve ordered the Chicken Club.

Overall, everything was really good, we went on Labor Day for lunch so the restaurant wasn't incredibly busy, but we got great service. Although Dave ordered the Hippie Pita there is also an option to swap a veggie burger onto any of the burgers offered on the menu. The Rail is pretty casual as well, I think it's a restaurant that my dad and brothers would really like and the prices are decent for the amount of food that you're receiving.

My rating for The Rail:

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Art Uncorked -- Canton, OH

I first heard of Art Uncorked via Facebook, another friend wanted to attend one of their Family Name Sign classes and all of the events were sold out. I kept an eye on the class schedule until there was an opening and Dave and I were first able to get into an April class for the name signs. After seeing the finished product my mom said she liked the window signs, so I went back to make one for a gift. Most recently we took a class this past Wednesday to make a sign for a wedding and a gift for someone else.

There's no painting/art experience necessary just bring yourself, some wine, and a snack or two and you're all set to participate at Art Uncorked. The classes usually seem to sell out, so if you want to take the class with someone else I've found it's best to sign everyone up at once. You can select a project from any of the signs on their Pinterest or you can be inspired by the projects of others as seen on Art Uncorked's Facebook page. 

Our first foray was before we got engaged and being the modern couple that we are, we're each keeping our own name when we get married. So rather than including our Est. date on the signs, we just created matching name signs to hang in our house, but most people include their wedding date.

Someone else's project. 

After sanding, painting, more sanding, and antiquing our signs I think they turned out pretty good and they look really nice in our house. I was very happy with the finished product and over all it was a very fun night. During this first class only Don was teaching, it was a little hectic with so many people and only one teacher but he managed to keep things running smoothly and we finished the class around 10:00.

The window classes seem to be the most popular and during the month of May all of them were private parties only. I emailed Art Uncorked and was able to get added to a private event that didn't quite fill up. Like with the pallet signs, Art Uncorked will provide the window. However, my mom wanted to get a particular style of window, so I was able to bring my own and tell Art Uncorked the dimensions so that my stencil was the correct size.

Preparing to paint! 

Painting the window was more nerve wracking than the pallet, it's not that I was afraid of messing up, I just didn't want to press too hard and end up breaking the glass of my window. The window project took a little more care and finesse than the name sign just because you're being extra careful due to the fragility and mistakes seem to show up a little more easily on the glass.  At this class Don's wife was there as well, having two people was helpful, it gave them more opportunity to circle the room and provide individualized assistance. 

At our latest class Dave and I made a Welcome sign for our wedding, I had seen a similar project on the Art Uncorked Facebook page. I think this is a really great project to gift to someone at a wedding shower, a lot of people are living together before marriage and don't need household items. The sign is personalized and a really nice addition to a new home.

Trying to dry all of that paint.

Some photos of inside the studio, these are items made by Don and available for sale. They can also provide a bit of project inspiration, that Christmas sign is totally going to be my next project. 

I'm already planning my next visit to Art Uncorked, and I love having this close enough for us to visit every few months. These signs are perfect for your home and for gifts. Don and Tracey do an excellent job conducting the classes and making sure that everyone leaves with an Instagram worthy piece of art.

My rating for Art Uncorked: