Archives for 2017

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Last week, Amanda and I visited Walt Disney World to wander around at EPCOT’S International Flower and Garden Festival. This yearly festival runs from March 1st until May 29th, and has food, fun, and of course…flowers!

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A few years ago, the festival introduced “outdoor kitchens” taking advantage of the popularity of vacationers loving to try snack sized portions of food, which is a genius idea. There are 15 kitchens spread around the world showcase, two of them being newcomers this spring for the 24th year of the festival. You can use snack credits for many items as part of the Disney dining plan, and you can even pre purchase an adorable gift card that can be used as you eat around the world.

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Don’t forget about the Garden Rocks concert series. These mini concerts will get you movin’ and shakin’ along with the music at the America Gardens Theatre. You can check out the full concert lineup here, as well as information on dining packages.

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There are also tons of adorable topiaries, exhibits, and gardens to see during your visit to EPCOT. With 13 topiaries sprinkled around the park, you are bound to get a few great photos with some of your favorite Disney characters in plant and flower form.

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A favorite of mine were the kid play areas. I know my daughter is going to flip when she sees these when we go back in April.

Be sure you don’t miss the bonsai and butterfly exhibits either, they are great for learning and teaching your kids, as well as just plain cool.

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The festival center also has special weekend events for you to check out, and you can also sign up for special tours and events going on during this time, like the like the Royal tea garden tour. It looks super fun! Of course there is also tons of fun merchandise to purchase as well to commemorate this special occasion. You can find several booths selling everything from t-shirts to  mugs to garden essentials.

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Spring time is a great time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort, so be sure when you do, that you block off plenty of time to spend in beautiful EPCOT at the International Flower and Garden Festival.

QOTD: Have you ever visited Walt Disney World during this time? What is your favorite thing about the festival?

Tampa Tuesdays: Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

It’s officially spring, and that means it’s time for the Food and Wine festival at Busch Gardens! I was invited to a media event a couple of weeks ago to check out some of the amazing food offerings, and wanted to share them with you for Tampa Tuesdays.

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When we arrived at Busch Gardens, we were immediately greeted by an adorable topiary, and of course some wine!

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There was food, music, drinks, and some friendly faces.

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Servers passed around some of the offerings, while others were found at the food booths just as you would find them in the parks during the festival. The bacon macaroni and cheese was my favorite, hands down! This was just one of the many offerings at the 13 food cabins, 65+ fine wines and 70+ craft beers!

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However the duck fat truffle fries were a close second.

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Each cabin had a menu board with the food and drinks available as well as prices. Some even had pictures which I found very helpful.

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The president of Busch Gardens, Stewart Clark, spoke a few words, and it was fun to see the excitement he had for the event.

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Megan and I had to try out more wine, of course.

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Bobby tried the lobster tart.

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Then I found the frozen sangria and the mango margarita. Both were amazing, and I may have had more than one! (pictured here with shrimp and grits.)

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One of the new pavilions is called “cooking with Coke”, and I really enjoyed the pulled pork sliders with Coca-Cola® Cherry BBQ sauce.

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Mango margarita pictured below.

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No lie, after I took the below photo, a bird swooped down and stole my Key Lime Berry Parfait Mousse with churro. How rude! Also pictured are scallops and lamb chops with tabouleh. The scallops were Bobby’s favorite of the evening.

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I may have had another plate of the bacon mac and cheese. It’s THAT good.

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Something else we got to do that you can also do if you come to Busch Gardens (for a fee) is pet and feed kangaroos. It was so cool! They ate out of these little cups and were super friendly. It made my night!

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At the end of the night, we were sufficiently stuffed, and couldn’t wait to try more food at the Food and Wine Festival when it opened the next day! We haven’t been back yet, but we plan to do so soon.

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Don’t forget that in addition to the amazing food offerings, there is an awesome concert line up including names like the Band Perry, Newsboys, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also plenty of upgrades you can purchase to make your visit even sweeter. There are festival samplers starting at $29.99, and VIP packages starting at $24.99.

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A huge thank you to Busch Gardens for the invite. This is such a fun festival that’s great for the whole family! You can experience the festival for yourself on weekends through April 30th. Concerts start at 7:00 pm. For more info be sure to check out the event FAQ page.

QOTD: Have you ever attended the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens? What dish looks the best to you?

*Disclosure: I was provided free entrance into this special event as media, however all opinions are my own.

The winner of my Cabot giveaway is Susan Smith! Susan, be sure to email me at heatherslookingglass@gmail.com. You can check out the rafflecoptor widget in the original post to see the winner into.

runDisney Snow White Costume Tutorial

Every year, I dress up for the runDisney Princess half marathon. For the past couple of years, my friend Jen and I have been super creative with matching costumes, but this year we both had a lot going on, and February snuck up on us. We still wanted to dress up and “sort of” match, so we decided to go with clothing we already owned so that we just had to add a couple of accessories to our princess costumes.

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I already had a yellow running skirt and blue top, so I thought Snow White would be “easy”, except I totally forgot I am the least artistic person on earth and nothing related to costume creation is ever easy for me.

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I had seen a few similar costumes on Pinterest, and thought I could figure out a way to create the sleeves on my own, but still look just as good as people with sewing machines (and sewing skills). Yall, I tried really hard. If you didn’t get too close to me at the race you never would have known, but the photos below clearly show off my skills. But if you want an easy(er) way to create these sleeves and don’t have a sewing matching but own a needle and thread (or can buy one), then my tutorial is for you. remember, if I can do this, you can do this.

SUPPLIES:

-blue tank (mine is cotton from Target, I got it on clearance for $3. I know cotton is a running no no, but I wasn’t spending any more money on this costume than I had to.

-yellow running skirt from runningskirts.com. My favorite brand. They have POCKETS which is a great help during a race. (affiliate link)

-red headband or ribbon (I got mine at Mouse Gears inside EPCOT for $12.95. I love it so much I wore it around the parks, too!) You could always use leftover ribbon from your sleeves to create a bow or headband, too.

-needle

-white and blue thread

– 1 yard of knit elastic

– 2 yard of 1 inch thick blue ribbon

-2 yards of 1 inch thick red ribbon

– push pins

WARNING: Do not get ribbon with wire. It will poke you the whole race. The only thinner red ribbon at my craft store had wire so I bought it. Don’t make my mistake!

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The first thing you need to do for your sleeves is cut two pieces of elastic and sew them together for the bottoms of the sleeves.

WARNING: Make the fit snug, but don’t cut off circulation. I made the mistake of making mine too loose, and it started pulling down the straps of my tank b/c the elastic was sliding down my arms. If I were to do this again (haha) I would have done the elastic a little tighter.

All I did was used white thread and literally sewed the two ends together at the ends. That’s it. Nothing fancy or pretty. I figured no one would be close enough to see that it didn’t all line up perfectly.

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Then came the more complicated part. I knew I wanted 3 red pieces and 2 blue pieces of ribbon on each arm. So I did the longest 2 pieces in the middle then shorter pieces after that with one of the pieces more in the front than back. Confusing? Maybe this helps. For each arm I cut:

-1 red 10” and one blue 10”

-1 red 9” and one blue 9”

-1 red 8”  <—-to be closer to the front. I didn’t care about having ribbon more towards the back. Check it out below. I then took each piece and pinned it to my elastic. I personally did it so that the seam of the elastic was on the back of my arm and not underneath so it wouldn’t rub me when I ran. Then I kind of “pleated” each piece of ribbon (best I could, it’s hard yall), and pinned them all on so that the ribbon reached about halfway down the width of the elastic (don’t worry, this is the underside that no one will see!)

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Then I got to sewing. Well, what resembled sewing. Don’t laugh. This is the final product. I used white thread and just started on one side and literally just sewed over and under all the way across. It looked AWFUL, but again, would be on the underside.

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I then did the same exact thing to the other side, so I had two detached sleeves.

I then switched to my blue thread, and again just literally sewed a line down the inside of the sleeve of the tank, attaching each piece of ribbon with about 3-4 stitches as I went. It wasn’t the best hold ever, but would do for one race. I did the other sleeve (make sure you sew underneath and not on top of the tank!) and I was done!

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I didn’t try it on b/c I was afraid I would rip/mess something up, but thankfully all went well on race day and it held together just fine! I got tons and tons of compliments, but really all I did was sew together some ribbon and buy a headband. Everything else I already had. Some people choose to do a cape and collar or hold an apple, but I knew a cape and collar would bug me, and I already hold my phone when I run so I didn’t want to bother with another prop. So there you have it! My Snow White runDisney costume!

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QOTD: Have you ever dressed up for a race?

Tampa Tuesdays: Cooking With Cabot + A Giveaway

It’s time for another Tampa Tuesday post! As stated when I started these, not all posts would be specifically about Tampa, but would include things I do and experience in the surrounding areas. Today is one of those days, as I talk to you about a special Cabot Cheese event I attended in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. When I arrived at the beautiful East End Market in Orlando and headed upstairs to the APEX room, I was greeted and immediately pointed towards a delicious looking create your own parfait bar, Olde Hearth Bread Company muffins, Lineage Coffee Roasting coffee, Divine Chocolate,  Florida Milk, and all the Cabot cheese I could eat. Yes please!

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We ate breakfast, got to know each other, and just had a nice relaxing few minutes to hang out before we were introduced to some of the Cabot team.

One of my favorite things we discussed was the department of gratitude. Did you know that Cabot uses reward programs to thank those that do goof. You can log your volunteer time for different events . It’s pretty cool!

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We then got to meet our awesome demo chef for the day, Jimmy. I particularly liked him because he grew up in Mississippi. We all huddled into the kitchen and watched him make some delicious food! First up was cornbread. Now we are speaking my language! This southern girl was fascinated by the fact he put sweet potatoes in the cornbread! Of course we all got to taste before moving on to the next thing.

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Anyone who knows me well knows that mac and cheese is one of my favorite things ever. This one definitely did not disappoint. You can check out the recipe here.

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Jimmy also showed us how to make taco shells out of cheese. I will for sure be trying this out. They were so easy to do and delicious. I may have eaten a shell by itself. Don’t judge me.

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After all the cooking (well, Jimmy cooking!) we did a little self care with Candace. She talked to us about stretching, and taking time for ourselves. She knows we are on the computer a lot as bloggers, and we need to MOVE! So we did just that with these fun drumsticks. Candace is so passionate about healthy living, it was fun to hear a like minded fitness lover talk to us!

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Soon it was time for lunch, which was such a treat. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already, we were brought outside to enjoy the courtyard and beautifully decorated tables.

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I may have found a new favorite thing: Lemonade with lavender. It was so light and refreshing, I may have had two glasses.

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The rest of the food did not disappoint either, and hit the spot! We had grilled cheese sandwiches by La Femme du Fromage made with Cabot cheese of course, Houndstooth Sauce Company’s tomato basil soup, salad with apple slices, and the Skyebird lavender lemonade.

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We even were “treated” to an adorable and rich dessert from Gideon’s Bakehouse: Pistachio Toffee Dark Chocolate cookies. So amazing. Then we headed back inside for our competition.

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My friends know I am one of the most competitive people alive, and so of course this was no exception. We were divided into teams (my team was called “seriously sharp”,) and given a basket full of goodies and told to create a cheeseboard. The best board would win a prize, so we went straight to work. (We only had 30 minutes!) We decided on a Valentine’s Day theme and just kind of went with it. I may or may not have used my fingernails to cut out hearts from cheese. It was totally worth it, because…we won! Isn’t our board beautiful?!?

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The winning team with Candace.

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We all said our goodbyes and were given a great goody bag (as well as one to pass on to someone else). It was overall a great day, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to learn more about Cabot, meet amazing bloggers, and just generally connect with more people in my new state. A huge thank you to Cabot, Isabel and Sunday Supper, and everyone else who helped with the event!

Cabot, being so generous, offered to host a giveaway on my blog! One lucky reader will receive this box as seen below. This is their legacy gift box, and it’s amazing! To enter, please follow the instructions below. Winner will be selected Monday March 20th and announced on the blog next Tuesday. Good luck!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap 2017

A couple of weeks ago I have the privilege of running in my 6th runDisney Princess half marathon. I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge last year and in 2014, but this year my friend Jen and I decided to save some money (and some sleep!) and just run the half marathon. (Pssst. There is a video at the end of the post so hang tight to watch a recap from my Instagram Stories!)

Every year we dress up, and this year was a bit crazy for both of us and we didn’t have time to create elaborate matching costumes like we have done in the past. However, we still dressed up and per usual kept our costumes a secret until the night before the race. We went to bed early, and my 2:45 am alarm came way too soon.

We got dressed, put on our traditional fake eyelashes like we do every year (you would THINK we would be better at this by now!) and headed to the bus.

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(Coming soon: A tutorial on how I created my costume, the easy/I’m terrible at sewing kind of tutorial!)

We got to the bus stop in front of the Yacht Club, and were the last people loaded before we left. What was interesting was we were on a park bus, not a regular greyhound which was a first for me with runDisney. There was a lot of traffic, but we made it to EPCOT by about 4:15 and walked to the family reunion area where we met up with a friend before checking Jen’s bag. It was chillier than I expected, and I was thankful for my throw away sweatshirt I remembered to bring.

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We had never gotten to the corrals this early before, and they were pretty empty! runDisney got smart and put a row of port-o-potties close to the front corrals so we were able to go to the bathroom with no line and then jump in D corral. Karen was also in our corral, so she hung out with us and started the race with us, too. Our plan was to just have fun and take walk breaks. I was super undertrained and this was just a “for fun” race.

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The race started a few minutes late because the traffic was so bad, but finally we made it up to the start line with the rest of our corral.

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After a quick hi to Rudy and Carissa, we were off on our 13.1 mile journey!

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The first couple of miles are always so uneventful. It’s dark, there is nothing to look at, and you start thinking about all the miles ahead! Thankfully we just all chatted together until around mile 2 when Karen decided to stop for a character photo that we decided to skip (lines were already so long! I can’t imagine how bad they were for the corrals behind us.) We made it to the Magic Kingdom gates and I was excited we were getting closer to the more exciting parts of the course.

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After a quick stop at the med tent for body glide, we were on our way towards the TTC. I have to admit, I was a little bummed at the low crows at this spot. Traditionally this is my second favorite spot in the race because of all the energy from wall to wall people screaming and cheering, but this year there was hardly anyone and it made me sad. Did anyone else notice this? It wasn’t very cold outside so I’m not sure what the deal was. We passed my favorite drummers and kept going towards the big hill.

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When we made the turn to get to the Magic Kingdom, we thought it was odd that the 5 mile marker wasn’t in it’s usual place. (The things you notice when you have run this course over a dozen times!) We would later find out the course through the Magic Kingdom was slightly altered which is why the markers were in a different place.

We made the turn onto Main Street, my favorite part, and again it just didn’t have the same crowd and energy I am used to seeing, but it’s still my favorite part.

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We stopped and found a girl by herself trying to take a photo and we took turns getting pics for each other. I love runners!

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Next stop was the bathroom in Tomorrowland. We used to stop at the ones at the TTC, but a couple years ago they started locking those for us for some reason, which means even more princesses waiting in line in Tomorrowland. We had a several minute delay, and then were on our way again.

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We made it out of the Magic Kingdom (sad times) and made another bathroom stop at the next water station (too much coffee!) We arrived at the long stretch of single lane road, and Jen and I can’t figure out why its always so COLD on this part of the course! Any ideas? Before long we were at mile seven by the Grand Floridian. I took a picture with Snow White, since the line for her in the Magic Kingdom was dozens of people long. This is as close as I was going to get.

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The next few miles were uneventful again, just running out on the road. We saw the race going the other way towards the Magic Kingdom around mile 2.5 I guess, and I saw the balloon ladies! I yelled for the princesses to run faster! We grabbed a CLIF shot at the free station around mile nine, and took a walk break to eat those (I am not coordinated enough to run and eat at the same time). Next we were making the turn on the loop of death at mile 10 (it KILLS my IT bands) and had a 5k to go. At this point we had gotten to the length of my longest and one and only really long run from this training cycle of 10 miles, and I was getting tight even though we weren’t running fast at all. My right thigh/quad up near my hip flexor started to hurt, but we only had a couple miles to go so I just pushed through.

Soon we hit mile 11, and looped around and up the overpass and down into EPCOT and mile 12. A photographer caught me doing an Insta story on my phone. Oops. But seriously, if this doesn’t sum up my life I don’t know what does.

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We looped around the small part of the course that goes through the park, and then I could hear the gospel choir singing! Miles 13 came and went, and we were in the home stretch of the finish line.

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Can I just say that I love getting race pictures free as an annual passholder?!?

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We made it! After crossing the finish line in 2:32, we had to get pixie dusted of course.

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We got our medals, and headed over to the Media/VIP tent for some much deserved food and of course, mimosas.

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Now I was able to do my favorite thing, cheer other runners on as they came through the finish. I LOVE seeing runners tearing up, holding hands with loved ones, and just getting to experience the looks on their faces as they are mere steps from the finish line. There is just nothing like it, and it makes me so happy.

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Mimosas make me happy, too.

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So does this guy. Always takes time to talk to runners and makes us all feel so special. Jeff Galloway is the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carissa came into the tent for some food and we were able to say hello for a minute and grab a picture.

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We hung out and ate some more, met with a couple of people, and then headed back to the resort. I am so thankful to have a friend like Jen who gifted me with the opportunity to run in another Princess half marathon. I also love our little tradition of running the Princess half!

If you want to see a video I took during the race as a recap, and also see what Jen and I did for the rest of the day after the race, be sure to check out the video below. Please note this video is my Instagram story from the day, and apparently it doesn’t like when you have still shots mixed in with your videos, so there are about 5 times during the video where you will see it “Freeze up” for a couple of seconds. These are the places where I had still shots that won’t come up, so just ignore it, it will keep playing!

 

For more race recaps and general runDisney information, photos, and posts, check out my runDisney page!

Valspar Championship 2017 – TICKET GIVEAWAY

Welcome to another edition of Tampa Tuesday! I love learning about new events, places, and things to see here in my new home state, and today I have an exciting giveaway** for the locals, two tickets to any day of play! The Valspar Championship, Tampa Bay’s PGA Tournament event, started yesterday and runs through March 12 at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, and will be televised nationally! This tournament has something for the entire family, not just the golf lover, so bring everyone with you (kids 15 and under get in FREE!) What do I mean by something for everyone? Check it out: fun outdoor activities, entertainment, food, music and world-renowned professional golf (more details and giveaway below).

DUBLIN, OHIO - OCTOBER 04: Fans cheer as U.S. Team captain Fred Couples walks by during the Day Two Four-Ball Matches of The Presidents Cup at the Muirfield Village Golf Club on October 4, 2013 in Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

FOOD:

The Grape & Grain — an upscale wine, beer and spirits emporium is available, as well as the Valspar Food Truck Rally, several new concession areas and a celebrity chef cooking demonstration by Ming Tsai (Friday and Saturday) who is the host and executive producer of the cooking show SIMPLY MING,

MUSIC:

Valspar LIVE! — a free concert by Toby Keith, (heck YES!) superstar singer-songwriter, for ticketed attendees on Saturday (concert will begin after the tournament concludes Saturday, approximately 6:30)  I’m a huge fan of his music, especially “Made in America” and of course, “Red Solo Cup”.

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ACTIVITIES:

NEW! Valspar Chameleon Cove is a beach and relaxation zone, featuring a 50-ton, 20-foot tall Chameleon sand sculpture, colorful fan seating, concessions and a Maui Wowie Smoothie Stand. <—-yes please!

Valspar COLOR EXPERIENCE 18th green Expo featuring 2017 Colors of the Year, DIY projects, Ask Val (which is a new digital tool to assist guests in choosing colors), putting and fan photo booth.

McDonald’s Family Fun Zone: Featuring a 16-foot-tall rock climbing wall, monster putting green, free popsicles, Imagination Playground and plenty of arts and crafts and games — this area is located by the 8th green. Fun for even the little ones!

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If you don’t win my giveaway, you can still purchase tickets HERE. I hope to see some of you out there! I will for sure be there Friday, and hopefully Saturday as well. Please check out the Rafflecoptor giveaway below and good luck!

**Parking passes must be pre-purchased for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Patrons may purchase Tuesday& Wednesday parking when arrive on-site.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

March 2017 Goals

Whew! I know February is a short month, but I can’t believe we are already getting so far in to 2017! Once again, it’s goal check time. Don’t forget about them until December and then try to cram everything in. No, no no, stay on top of things, take action steps, and you can do great things! Lets take a peek at how I did in February and then jump into March.

1.) Track my food intake 1-2 days a week: D- Yall, I did this for about a week and then life happened. It’s totally my own fault, as I had vacation and other events to attend, and it is showing on the scale. That was the biggest reality check for me coming home from my Disney trip. I am adding this one to next month because it’s important to me.

2.) Take Emma Kate to Disney: A+ Yes! Not only did Bobby and I take her to Disney, but then I took her back again with my parents for the day. So much fun! We went to the Magic Kingdom and ate at Crystal Palace. We rode rides, sang Let it Go at the Frozen Sing Along, and then she fell asleep on the way home. The sign of a good Disney day I tell you!

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3.) Time Block My days: C- While I do a good job of using my planner for special events and things to remember, I didn’t time block as well as I wanted because some days I didn’t know what I was going to do, and some days included random things happening outside of my control that threw me off of my timing/lists. I think what works better for me is making a weekly list and scratching things off that HAVE to be done, then have another list of “would be nice to get done but not the end of the world if it doesn’t”. We will see what happens in March.

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March 2017 Goals: Yall, February was wild for a few unexpected reasons, so I’m really hoping for a calm and quiet March. I feel like I was totally out of whack all month and had a hard time staying on task. This month is going to be all about FOCUS and not getting side tracked.

1.) Track my food 1-2 days a week on My Fitness Pal: I have gained back a few pounds that I lost in the summer and this frustrates me since I worked so hard to lose them. This month it’s back in the saddle with counting calories a couple of days a week to keep myself in check. This is NOT something I obsess over daily, but needs to be done some in order to stay on task (for me, personally).

2.) Orange Theory twice a week: Last month, I skipped Orange theory three times due to different reasons, and I CANNOT let that start becoming a habit. Back to my twice a week workouts with them to get back in the swing of things for March.

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3.) Put Together my Bar Stools: I know this one sounds silly, but we finally bought bar stools for the kitchen and they are currently in boxes in the foyer. I just keep pretending they are not there. I am so behind from being out of town, I just don’t have the time at this moment to put them together, but they WILL get done this month!

Remember that the best way to reach your goals is to have action steps so you have a path way to success. Also I believe in printing or writing out your goals so you SEE THEM all month. You can download my goal and fitness tracking printables for free HERE. Good luck!

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QOTD: What are your goals for March? Did you complete your February goals?

Tampa Tuesdays: The Nutrition Factory

Last week, I was invited to a pre grand opening event at a new restaurant concept called The Nutrition Factory. It was built next to/kind of inside Powerhouse Gym in Tampa. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had heard about possible smoothies? Protein powders? Meals? Once we arrived and were shown around, it all became clear…clear that I loved this place!

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As someone who has been blogging about health and fitness for seven years, I was particularly excited, and equally skeptical of this place. Let me tell you something. The heart and the thought that went into each and every single thing truly shows in the product. We walked in and loved the hip and fun vibe right away. There was a long table to sit at as well as outdoor seating.

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The menu is broken down into proteins, grains, veggies, and toppings. You can customize a bowl, salad or wrap based on this, or choose one of their pre-created concepts. They even have a bowl named “the boring bowl”. HA!

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Knowing I wanted to sample several things, I went with a Junior bowl. I got chicken for my protein, brown rice for my grain, and the loaded it down with toppings like edamame, avocado, cheese, and almonds. I also had a delicious dressing on the side.

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You watch your food as it is prepared, and can customize as you go.

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There is NO LIMIT on the toppings which was the best part!

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There is also a smoothie station where you can get a protein shake, or a cold pressed juice smoothie. I had a birthday cake shake, and Bobby had a S’mores flavored one and one called the Hawaiian Pie. All were amazing! We also got to sample the cold pressed juice smoothies and they are packed with fruits, veggies, and vitamins. There are so many options!

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This is one of Bobby’s bowls. he may or may not have had two. It was just so good!

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The Nutrition Factory also sells lots of product in their store, at great prices. The walls were lined with pre workout, protein powder, and the like. One of the owners, Michael, took a lot of time with us explaining the different products, and even helped my husband figure out what would be the best pre workout for him to start taking.

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Michael also told me of a really exciting concept they are bringing in the near future. He knows a lot of gym goers like to meal prep, but keeping food fresh all week is difficult, and some people just don’t have the time. He plans to offer a grab and go meal prep area, where you can come in and just grab your grains, or proteins, or the whole meals, WITHOUT having to join a subscription service where you have to purchase so many meals a week or month. I love it.

You could tell that Michael is truly passionate about The Nutrition Factory, and has big plans for it. Expansion may be in the future as well, but he and his partner want to focus on getting everything right with this store before expanding. I really hope they do expand, as this location is a bit far from my house, but it is definitely worth the drive. I’m already thinking up custom ideas for my next bowl.

QOTD: Thoughts on this concept attached to a gym? What is your favorite protein powder?

Top 5 Overlooked Disney World Restaurants

Disney dining is a hot topic among vacationers. Sought after reservations are planned months in advance, menus are scoured, and pictures are researched. In a lot of searches, you will see the same restaurants mentioned over and over. Not only are (some) of these Disney World restaurants over rated, but a lot are near impossible to get into, especially for a last minute trip.

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In my experience, resort dining is often overlooked, but is some of the best food on Disney property. Also, these places have been known to take last minute reservations and walk ups. Check out my list below of five of my favorite hidden gem restaurants at Walt Disney World:

Name: Trails End Buffet

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground

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This buffet truly is “hidden” in the woods on Disney property. You cannot park directly at the restaurant, and instead must either park at check in and take an internal bus, or take a boat. The best way to describe this place is “comfort food”. As a born and raised southerner, I consider myself an expert on sweet tea. So far, Trail’s End has hands down, the best sweet tea, on Disney property. Also, since it’s not a character buffet, the price is very reasonable for an all you can eat. It’s usually pretty quiet, and we love sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs before or after our meal just soaking in vacation. If you want to relax, this is a great place to go!

Name: Kona Cafe

Location: Polynesian Village Resort

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Kona Café is right next door to the ever popular Ohana. On several occasions, I have been able to walk up without a reservation to Kona, even at prime dinner time. On the second floor of the lobby, Kona has a fun colorful open atmosphere, with a great menu. Since it’s on the monorail loop, you could even leave the Magic Kingdom, go eat, then go back to the part without wasting a lot of time.

Name: Grand Floridian Café

Location: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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This is another place I consider quiet and relaxing. We love getting a table by the window for breakfast or lunch, and enjoy the bright light that comes in through the tall windows of the restaurant. Off by itself in the back of the lobby, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of check in, and 1900 Park Fare. You can easily hop on the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom, so it’s prime location is a huge draw in my opinion.

Name: Splitsville

Location: Disney Springs

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There are several reasons I love Splitsville, one being the birthday cake martini. Another great plus to this place is that it has a HUGE menu, so I’m certain you will find something for everyone here. Also, you can eat WHILE you bowl, which is pretty awesome and unique. My favorite is to ask to eat outside on the upstairs balcony. It has great views of Disney Springs, especially at sunset. Not to mention, since there is no admission to get into Disney Springs, you don’t have to have a park ticket to eat here. I have also walked up and been seated immediately many times.

Name: The Wave

Location: Contemporary Resort

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Another restaurant I picked in part to it’s great location. Just one stop after leaving the Magic Kingdom, this cool place off the lobby of the Contemporary has a very chill vibe. The drink menu is fun, and the options are plentiful. After you eat, simply walk the path back to the Magic Kingdom, or hop on the monorail to the TTC and go to EPCOT or back to the Magic Kingdom. So many options!

QOTD: What is your favorite often overlooked Disney restaurant?

How to Start Running Even When You Hate It

I have been running for awhile now, and have gone through many ebbs and flows with my running love affair. There have honestly been more times when I hate running than times when I like it. I know that sounds like a horrible thing for a “runner” to say, but for me, it’s the truth and I’m owning it. I would MUCH rather sit on the couch and watch Hulu than go outside and sweat, be uncomfortable, and bored for an hour. However, the things I DO love are the benefits of running. For me, running is just the necessary evil to get there.

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I love the post run high, the extra energy it gives me, the calorie burn, and the competition aspect. I love the comradery with other runners, the race expos, and the bling. Some of you may be nodding right along with me, especially the beginners who feel like it will be impossible to ever get up to a “far/long run”, or feel like they love it. Unfortunate reality: you may never actually love it. However, that’s ok! You have two choices: 1.) Find something else to do 2.) Do it anyway because you love what it GIVES you, even if you don’t love the act of actual running.

I’m here to give beginners my best advice if you decide you do want to try out the running thing (even if you are currently hating it).

1.) Make a list: What is it you are hoping to accomplish with running? Why did you or do you want to start? Sometimes having a clear and concise reason can help get you moving when you want to take a nap instead. Maybe you want to lose weight, or maybe you just need some alone time. Some people start running to be social with a running group, and some want killer legs. All are valid reasons. You as an individual need to have a goal or focus on WHY you lace up or it may be stuff to stick with it.

2.) Start Slow: Trying to do too much too soon is not only overwhelming (and dumb! Injuries suck!) But it can cause you to give up before you have even gotten started because it seems too hard. Gradual build ups are best mentally and physically. Start with a walk and throw in a few 20-30 second jogs every now and then. Count mailboxes. Tell yourself you will run for ten mailboxes then walk for 20. Get creative but don’t over do it trying to get results faster.

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3.) Schedule your runs and keep track: I am a numbers nerd, and seeing my progress on a piece of paper (or in a spreadsheet for you non paper people) makes me want to keep going so I don’t “lose” my progress. Keep track of how long you go for, and your time. Also be sure to schedule your runs into your planner (or Google calendar, whatever my tech savvy friends are using these days), so that you will actually do it. Heck this blog started because I used it as an accountability journal. I said I was going to run in a blog post, so then I knew I had to follow through.

I have a set of free printables you can download and print out to help you set goals and keep track of your fitness if you want to check them out!

4.) Talk to a running friend: For some reason, we humans like talking to people who have gone through a hard thing that we may be currently dealing with, and have made it out the other side. It’s comforting to know we aren’t alone, and that success is possible. Find a running friend or online buddy who has accomplished a certain goal you want to reach (a time goal, distance goal, whatever!) and pick their brain. It will give you confidence you keep going!

5.) Picture that end result and just do it: I know this seems pretty basic, but it’s just truthful. Think about why you are doing this, then suck it up buttercup and run. You will feel better when it’s over. I have never regretted a run once I was finished. That’s a true story!

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Note: There are people who just LOVE running, and that’s awesome too! There have been times in my life I was that person, but overall, I have to really psych myself up for the actual run portion. I much prefer the results, the social aspect, the races, and the bling as mentioned before. We are all unique and different and that’s what is awesome! This post is not meant to knock anyone who truly enjoys the act of running, but instead to motivate those who are struggling some (or most) days.