This past weekend, I celebrated my 37th birthday. It just happened to fall on Father’s Day Sunday. Nick and I planned an entire weekend of adventures in Lake Norman and Charlotte. We love to exercise, eat great food, drink coffee and spend time together. This weekend included all of that and more.

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Friday: Birkdale Dinner, Shopping & Live Music

We kicked off the events with reservations at Red Rocks Café: Birkdale Village. They have several gluten free items on the menu and we were looking for something a little “fancy”.  As I am always open and honest with you, here are my thoughts on this restaurant. Our waiter was fabulous. He was extremely attentive and helpful. Also, the wine he suggested to pair with my meal was amazing. That is the positive portion of my restaurant review. Ha ha!

We started with basic side salads and then moved on to expensive entrees. Nick had the Denny Hamlin’s Prime Filet, a 6-ounce prime filet served with garlic smashed potatoes and broccolini. I ordered the Kasey Kahne’s Lobster Tail Dinner, twin Maine lobster tails, broiled, with drawn butter, garlic smashed potatoes and sautéed green beans.

The entrees were small, the potatoes dry and the vegetables heavily salted. We were quite disappointed. There aren’t any gluten free desserts at Red Rocks Café so be aware of that if you visit.

We aren’t ones to let a single experience ruin the day. While we left the restaurant a little hungry, we happily walked around Birkdale Village popping into shops along the way.

date night live music lake norman birkdale village


For my curly friends, my wash day results were from Ouidad Shampoo, SheaMoisture Hair Masque, Kinky Curly Leave-In, Curls Creme Brule and Kinky Curly Custard.   

Barnes and Noble was our first stop. Nick bought me a photography magazine to read at the pool. Clean Juice was next on the list. I use their iPhone app and for my birthday they sent me a $5 coupon. My favorite drink there is the Cashew Milk Latte. We arrived two minutes before the shop closed and the fridge had just been stocked! Lucky me.

Live music had just started in Birkdale Village so we found a bench and listened until the jazz band finished at 9pm. The weather was perfect. Almost chilly, no humidity and breezy. I wished the band could play another hour! If you are interested in the free live music, stop by Birkdale all summer for Mingling on the Greens Friday or Saturday from 7pm until 9pm. Bring a beach chair or blanket!

Saturday: Pool Time, Pizza & Birkdale

One thing we love is cold pizza by the pool. It’s hard not to want pizza when the delivery person from Dominoes is popping in and out all-day bringing lunch to hungry families! I had picked up a gluten free pizza at Papa Murphy’s the day before and baked it right before we went to the pool. Coupled with my Cashew Latte and photography reading material, I was ready for a full day in the sun.

That evening, we dropped by Birkdale Village again to enjoy the music. Saturday night is much busier than Friday!

Sunday: Presents, Breakfast Sandwiches & Long Walks

Before I get into my special day, I have to tell you about my birthday presents. Nick gave me an adonit PhotoGrip set. It’s a simple  smartphone accessory that turns your cell phone into a handheld camera. We tried it out and it made taking pictures together (selfies) so much easier. It also comes with a remote powered by Bluetooth. Add on the mini tripod and you are set for your next adventure.

adonit photogrip remote selfies smartphone handgrip

Nick also gifted me with a Zazzol wine aerator decanter. Friends of ours had one and it made a noticeable difference to the balanced finish and enhanced flavor of the wine. If you aren’t familiar with this accessory, it aerates wine as you pour. Basically, it mixes oxygen with the wine to break down the tannins. I haven’t tried this model out yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

On any given birthday, you can find me at Freedom Park. Whether it’s the Jazz Festival or walking the greenway trails, it’s one of my favorite spots in Charlotte!

Before exercising, we had breakfast at the Famous Toastery Dilworth. Thankfully, we arrived right before the Father’s Day rush and had seating outside. I ordered a custom gluten free breakfast sandwich that I must share with you. Ask for gluten free multi-grain bread, fried egg over easy, lettuce, tomato and mayo, bacon and gruyere cheese. It’s SO good! Super messy though so be sure to ask for lots of napkins. Get a big cup of coffee to accompany this meal and you are golden. What I love about the Famous Toastery is their to go coffee. I took one with me to Freedom Park.

the jennifer breakfast sandwich famous toastery
Nick calls this custom sandwich “the Jennifer”. I order it at every Famous Toastery we visit.

Freedom Park is only a couple miles from the restaurant. Getting there early in the morning is key in the summertime. It’s always bustling with activity. Dog walkers, runners, skateboarders and bikers. After 4 miles, we had worked up not only a sweat but a large appetite. Good things there are lots of gluten free restaurants in Charlotte.


About 7 miles south of the park is Burtons Grill. They have an extensive gluten free menu! Once again, we lucked out on timing arriving just before noon and grabbing a lovely table outdoors. I started with a cold cocktail, The Blueberry Hibiscus Squeeze. Highly recommend this drink, ladies!

blueberry hibiscus squeeze burtons grill gluten free

We both ordered burgers. Nick with a classic burger and sweet potato fries. Yes, they have gluten free fries!!! And, they were fantastic. I ordered the Paleo Knife and Fork Burger that came with sweet potato salad. Everything was so good, we ended with a gluten free chocolate seven-layer cake. The perfect way to end a birthday weekend.

With full bellies and happy hearts, we drove home, took a nice nap, facetimed with family (using my adonit photogrip stand – hands free!!) and went to bed early. I guess that makes me officially old. I like late afternoon naps and early bedtimes. Ha ha!



Diagnosed with Celiac Disease eleven years ago, I've been on a journey discovering what it means to be truly healthy. Join me as I share my personal fitness goals, gluten free recipes I've tried, travel tips, curly hair product reviews and all things creative.

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