Here’s what education reporter Mará Rose Williams is into right now:
Martial arts workouts
If you love food anywhere near as much as I do, you might be dreading the pounds you risk packing on as the holidays roll through. I’m not so worried anymore, though, since I’ve fallen madly in love with taekwondo — especially kicking and punching the heavy bag, a definite calorie burner.
I like the spiritual component, too. Certain moves represent our earthly surroundings, like the mountain block, where you stand with fists in the air, biceps flexed. There’s the self-defense aspect and that great feeling of confidence. And tighter leg and arm muscles look pretty good in spaghetti straps. Thinking New Year’s Eve festivities. All good.
Hourlong sessions where I go — Henrich’s U.S. Taekwondo — in Independence are pretty flexible before and after work.
Plaza happy hour
I love the crowd and the hors d’oeuvres plates during happy hour at Brio Tuscan Grille, 502 Nichols Drive on the Country Club Plaza. Special thumbs-up for music that’s loud enough to enjoy, soft enough for a conversation. And then there’s this: Black Pepper Shrimp, served with Romano crusted eggplant and a spicy black pepper cream sauce for $5.95 — a favorite. With $5 wine pours on Thursdays, that’s at least one day a week I’m not rushing home to work out.
The after-work crowd is pretty mixed, from professional 20-somethings to more mature-looking suits and Plaza shoppers. It’s a three-hour window from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays. And the bartenders — on the restaurant’s two levels — know their stuff and recommend food and wine pairings.
I’m a clotheshorse with Cadillac taste and a VW pocketbook, so I’m always searching for unique pieces at low, low prices. I could always find what I was looking for at Vintage Vogue, a great little shop that was chock-full of hidden gems from the 1940s through the 1980s disco era. Sad news: A few weeks ago, the owner retired and closed her store.
I’m in mourning. Even as I write this, I’m wearing my favorite pointed-toe, low-heel black leather boots and red safety pin bracelet I bought there. Sometimes shuffling through packed racks, plucking out days-gone-by styles, was like therapy. Can’t forget the oldies tunes as background music.
I need a new spot to love. Got a recommendation? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A cultured salon
Until I find another hot shopping spot, the next best mental therapy is settling into a comfortable chair at my favorite salon, Key 2 Beauty, 11333 E. 23rd St. Another Independence spot where you don’t need an appointment.
There’s a lot going on in this place. Latin music blares from the speakers and mixes with the quick-tongued Spanish conversations between customers and the Dominican stylists. The smell of hot metal, ceramic tools and freshly shampooed hair fills the cozy, softly lit shop.
Every styling chair is full, and there are at least four or five folks waiting their turn for transformation. Stylists move quickly. That’s what these Dominican woman do. And they use authentic Dominican creams and oils to turn frizzy, damaged hair into shiny, flowing locks. No chemical relaxer needed. It’s magic. They call it a Dominican blow out — a hot dryer, rounded brush and technique. Then a flat iron, and voila! A little pricey, but worth every penny.