Current faves: Holiday party, holiday tea, Winterfest at Carowinds, workouts and more

Hello, my friend! How are you? 

I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been busy with teaching classes, playing tennis (I’ve lost my last three matches, but I’m still out there trying my best against some tough competition), working, wrapping presents, ordering holiday cards (we skipped last year, but we’re sending out a small batch of very-late ones this year), running a million errands, waiting in the school pick-up and drop-off line and soaking up the good times in December. I’m looking forward to Brady being off of school for a couple weeks starting soon, so our mornings can be a little slower. The morning rush is a blur every single weekday. Anyone else?

Also, this Christmas wine glass (shown below) has traveled with me across the country multiple times and made it through multiple moves too. I love that it’s still kicking …

Christmas wine night by A Lady Goes West

Today, I’ve got a selection of faves for you, mostly made up of recent holiday activities. Hope you enjoy …

Current faves

Holiday fun

Ballantyne Country Club holiday party 2023

Our country club holiday gala was really fun! (Also, I still can’t believe we’re members of a country club, because we never set out to join a country club … we just ended up joining one, and we definitely like it.)

This is our third holiday season here in Charlotte, and this was our third time attending this fancy event as well. Many of our friends were there too, and this party is a chance to dress up, drink good drinks, eat (mostly) tasty food and dance, dance, dance. I love that this annual party takes place the first weekend of December to kick off the last month of the year too.

But to be totally honest, this year’s event wasn’t quite as well done as last year’s. Nonetheless, we had a good time, and we were glad we went.

Ashley and Dave at BCC 2023 by A Lady Goes West

(Here’s my dress, here’s my purse, and here are my shoes.)

Each room of the clubhouse featured a different theme from a movie (the overall theme was red carpet), and our collective favorite room was the Willy Wonka room — not only because that’s where the desserts were, but also because there was a really cool electronic violin musician playing popular songs in there (dressed as Willy Wonka, to add to the theming). He played the coolest music to dance to. And for quite a while, our group of eight friends (four couples) were the only ones in this room dancing the night away. It was like a private party!

Willy Wonka room at BCC by A Lady Goes West

Ashley and Dave at BCC 2023 by A Lady Goes West-1

The ladies at BCC 2023 by A Lady Goes West-1

We went several years without ever having dressy events to attend (especially in casual Northern California, where there is hardly ever a reason to dress up, because every activity is a jeans activity, even the nicer ones), and I love that we have this type of stuff to do now. Of course, I was back in leggings and activewear the next day, but that one night in a long gown was awesome.

The ladies at BCC 2023 by A Lady Goes West

The ladies at BCC 2023 by A Lady Goes West-2

By the way, the shoes I ordered to wear with my dress arrived the day of the party, and they didn’t fit right. So I was at DSW buying these back-up shoes at 5:30 p.m. before the 7 p.m. party. It all worked out though!

Holiday tea at Ballantyne Hotel

This is my second time going to the holiday tea at the Ballantyne Hotel. I organized this year’s outing for my girlfriends, and we booked it a few weeks in advance, because this activity fills up. It’s only offered between 1-4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in December, and it’s great for groups of ladies.

My party of five ladies had a lovely afternoon tea on a Thursday, and we just so happened to be seated at the prime location for this activity too. We had the couches in the middle of the lobby, right in front of the Christmas tree and in front of the harpist too. We couldn’t have picked a better spot. We also had a newborn with us (she was dressed in her best tea dress), if you peep the stroller near the table. She was an angel and never made a sound.

Ladies holiday tea 2023 by A Lady Goes West-1

During this tea, we each had a glass of champagne, a pot of holiday tea, finger sandwiches and tiny desserts too. We were there for about two hours nibbling, sipping and chatting — covering subjects from far-ranging topics.

I really enjoy the food at tea services, because you get some savory and some sweet. My favorite sandwich was the tuna salad on a croissant, and my favorite dessert was the chocolate pudding. The red velvet cake desserts were a little too mild for me, and they needed way more cream cheese frosting to be up to snuff for me. (Cake snob over here, and I’m not ashamed to say it!)

Ladies holiday tea 2023 by A Lady Goes West-2

Ladies holiday tea 2023 by A Lady Goes West

During our tea, the conversation kicked off with some more serious stuff. In fact, the first thing we discussed was how important it is for us to give to others this time of year — (something that can get lost in the shuffle, when you’re wrapped up dealing with your own life, you know?). A couple of my girlfriends arranged a toy drive the weekend before, and we all pooled together to donate a bunch of new and gently used toys for those in need at Brady’s elementary school. And one of my girlfriends was explaining how the process worked for distributing the toys to the families that need them. 

We’re very blessed and grateful to live the lives we live, and it’s important to remember that, especially right now. (Doing so makes little problems that pop up seem pretty insignificant too.) This particular subject resulted in some tears, so from there, we moved on to holiday plans, family stuff and other light-hearted chatter. It’s nice that we can talk about pretty much anything together, and we surely covered a lot this day.

This holiday tea was a great chance to hang out, and it was another chance to dress up (December seems to be full of opportunities to get out of my leggings).

This red dress I wore is from my list of 10 holiday party dress ideas, by the way. I’m in a 4, and I loved wearing it, and I’ll likely be re-wearing it this upcoming weekend for another holiday event.

Holiday red dress 2023 by A Lady Goes Wes
(Here’s my dress, here are my shoes, and here’s my headband.)

Winterfest at Carowinds 

Continuing on with our mission to try a few new local holiday activities … last weekend, Dave, Brady and I went to Winterfest at Carowinds. (I made this video about our visit to Carowinds here.)

Carowinds is a theme park about 20 minutes from our house, and we’d been once before for a normal day when we took Brady for his fourth birthday. But this was our first time going during the night and for the festive Winterfest. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. What made it even better is that we have a neighbor who works for Carowinds, so we were lucky enough to have free passes to get in, which was awesome. 

Family at Carowinds by A Lady Goes West

Carowinds’ Winterfest runs from 5 to 10 p.m. on many November and December nights, and we got there right before it opened, and we made it all the way to 9 p.m., which was quite late for Brady. (Brady usually goes to sleep just before 8 p.m. and he fell asleep in the car on the way home, nearly the second he got in his carseat.)

Winterfest at Carowinds by A Lady Goes West

During our time there, we watched the tree lighting, we went on one ride as a family (Dave went on two roller coasters by himself, and I decided to sit those out — not only because I needed to stay with Brady, but also because I can’t seem to handle scary rides these days), we did some holiday kid-friendly crafts in a craft room, we had a fairly greasy dinner, we had some crumbly (but tasty) fudge while watching some very good live musical performances, and we walked around and enjoyed the Christmas decorations throughout the park. I loved the way the park was decked out, and they really went all out with the lights.

Winterfest at Carowinds by A Lady Goes West

Now, Carowinds is not as magical as Disney, that’s for sure. But this theme park in our backyard does a great job. We had a really nice time at Winterfest. The night we went was chilly, but not too chilly, and we did have to withstand a little bit of drizzling rain — which wasn’t good for my hair, but it didn’t slow us down at all. 

Winterfest at Carowinds by A Lady Goes West

Also, I debuted this new basic top when we went to Winterfest. It’s from Everlane, and you know how much I love that brand of top. I’m in a small, and I bought it in two colors. 

New Everlane top by A Lady Goes West

(Here’s my top.)

That’s it for the faves. Let’s get to the movement …


My recent workouts recap

Now it’s time to take a look at my workouts from the last two weeks.

I share this recap to show you how I try to get diversity of movement in my week (with a focus on lifting weights), and how I always take a rest day (almost always). But remember, I do a little bit more than the average person, because I’m a group fitness instructor, so you don’t need to compare your movement to mine. Regular movement is regular movement, so get moving!

New weekly workout recap by A Lady Goes West

Workouts from the week of 11/27

  • Monday: Taught 1-hour barbell class, 9:45 a.m., played 45 minutes of doubles tennis, 11:15 a.m.
  • Tuesday: Taught 1-hour barre class, 9:30 a.m., took 60-minute tennis clinic, 12 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Did 30-minute weight-room workout, 12 p.m., taught 45-minute barre class, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 45-minute combo class, 9:45 a.m.
  • Friday: Taught 45-minute barbell class, 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday: Did 45-minute weight-room workout, 10:30 a.m.
  • Sunday: Did super-slow 75-minute walk on treadmill, 11 a.m. (Active rest day, and I used this time to learn some new choreography and access the gym childcare for Brady, because Dave was on a work trip)

Workouts from the week of 12/4

  • Monday: Taught 1-hour barbell class, 9:45 a.m., played 60 minutes of doubles tennis, 11:15 a.m.
  • Tuesday: Taught 1-hour barre class, 9:30 a.m., took 60-minute tennis clinic, 12 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Did 25-minute weight-room workout, 12 p.m., taught 45-minute barre class, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 45-minute combo class, 9:45 a.m.
  • Friday: Taught 45-minute barbell class, 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday: Played in 90-minute doubles tennis match, 9:30 a.m.
  • Sunday: Did 45-minute weight-room workout, 11 a.m.

The last two weeks of movement included teaching my classes, playing tennis, resting and doing a few weight-room floor solo workouts too, so I’m pleased.

Like I tell the members in my classes, this time of year can be extra hard to make it to the gym. And here’s your friendly reminder that your workout doesn’t always have to be a full hour, nor does it need to be in the gym. In fact, every tiny bit of movement you can do during the day will benefit you. A walk, a ride, a dance party — it all adds up, so do it. Speaking of little things adding up …

Barbell hip thrusts by A Lady Goes West

Best read of the week

Here’s an article worth sharing with you, because I loved reading it …

Taylor Swift as “Time” magazine’s Person of the Year. This rare interview with Taylor Swift is so very interesting — from her preparation routine for The Eras Tour, to her current very-public relationship, to her drama-filled past. I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan, and I love to see a woman in her position breaking every record and boundary and succeeding like crazy. I truly enjoyed getting some more insight into her life in this article, and it was a long one. So good.

Quote of the week

Here’s a thought worth sharing with you from James Clear. I’m into this quote because I agree that it’s always better to be a fan of a lot of things than a very harsh critic of everything for no reason, you know? Let’s build each other up!

James Clear quote by A Lady Goes West

Blog archives of the week

Let’s look back at two posts worth revisiting, because it’s not too late to grab some gifts for your loved ones …

Gifts for the guys. Do you find the guys in your life hard to shop for? Sometimes I feel that way. Here are some ideas … “Best gifts for guys for 2023 (Holiday gift guide for him).”

Best gifts for guys for 2023 (Holiday gift guide) by A Lady Goes West

Gifts for the ladies. But, it’s super easy to shop for the ladies in my life, that’s for sure. Here are some things I love and have received or would gift another … “Best gifts for ladies for 2023 (Holiday gift guide for her).”

Best gifts for ladies for 2023 (Holiday gift guide) by A Lady Goes West

That’s all I’ve got for you today! I truly appreciate you coming by A Lady Goes West. If you want to stay in touch until we’re back here again, you can always catch my real-time stories on Instagram too. xoxo

Questions of the day for you

What’s one good thing that has happened in your December so far?

What’s something that you’re a big fan of this time of year?



  1. First, I picked up Carrie Soto is Back 2 weeks ago based on your recommendation and I am loving it! about half way through(she is on her way to Wibmeldon), so thank you!! I loved Evelyn Hugo, did not love Daisy jones(liked it but not love) and I qm loving Carrie Soto

    I feel ya on getting fancy in Northern California! We belong to a private club in SF and I swear I belong to it just for things like the holiday party which will be next Wednesday. Usually me and like 2 other go(fiance, brother maybe a friend) and this year I decided to invite 10 people to make it even more festive!!
    its from 6-9 but that is just enough for me on a Wednesday and in a ballgown!

    I love your tea, and that you all had a moment of gratefulness. I am a sucker for cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches!
    Happy Holidays, Ashley! to you and your family.
    Thank you for sharing your life with us and for being vulnerable, honest, and authentic; it truly sets you apart from other bloggers

    1. What an amazingly wonderful comment, Sabrina! I hope you get my reply! 🙂
      Okay, I was totally enthralled with the writing style of Daisy Jones until about a quarter of the way in, and then I started loving — maybe you’ll like the show more than the book with that one.
      And I wish all holiday parties were on Fridays or Saturdays, but they aren’t! We have two next week on Tuesday and Wednesday!
      Finally, I truly appreciate you reading the blog! xoxox

  2. Winterfest is just the sweetest! Though you’re right, the park doesn’t have the sights and spectacles of Disney, there’s something really charming about the local feel of it. It has quickly become one of my favorite holiday traditions!

    Next year I’ll have to try the afternoon tea – it sounds delightful!

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